By Emily Peters
There were many peaks and troughs for travel professionals in 2016. Security fears and clogged airport lines made headlines, but so did the fact that more people used (and were happy with) the services of travel agents than years prior. In times of crises, travel agents came to the rescue to secure safe accommodation for displaced people. Their expertise continues to make an impact in the lives of people across the nation.
Slowly but surely, travel agents are redefining their place in the economy. Here are 7 signs we believe that 2017 will be a great year for travel agents.
Host agency services will continue to improve and expand.
As the world progresses, so do host agencies, and with it their arsenal of services and tools for home based travel agents. MTravel, in particular, revamped their entire professional development curriculum and has slated major improvements in 2017 for Agent Connex (their proprietary back-office platform) and private labeled booking website. The changes will make it easier than ever for independent travel agents to improve their operations and spend more time on their clients.
The media is getting on board.
Bit by bit national media has gone from “travel agents still exist?” to “these travel agents are on to something!” ABC news and USA Today both recently lauded the climb of the humble travel agent with the stats to back it up—all strong indicators of more good press in 2017.
Doors are being unlocked for new destinations.
U.S. dreams of visiting Cuba are slowly turning into reality. In 2013, Globus and other reputable tour operators started their people-to-people tours, and now Royal Caribbean, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania and Norwegian Cruise Line will begin sailing to the island beginning spring 2017.
Though it remains unclear how the new presidency may affect the tender Cuba/US relationship, agents can and should take advantage of this new freedom in 2017.
LGBT destination weddings and honeymoons are climbing.
Marriage equality was passed June 2015, and with it came a prediction for a $2.6 billion economic bump—including LGBT destination weddings and honeymoons. As 2017 leads us into the second year of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, travel agents can take advantage of the huge potential and new training available to help them tap into this market.
Agents will earn more money through fees.
Instead of relying on commission alone, travel agents are becoming increasingly comfortable charging transaction, consultative and retainer fees. Combining their sophisticated knowledge with vintage customer service bodes well for agent pocketbooks in 2017.
Lower airfares will make increased leisure and corporate travel possible.
With fuel costs down, Fortune, CNN, Entrepreneur and more forecast the trend of lower airfares continuing in 2017. And while it’s impossible to predict how long the cheaper prices will last, savvy travel agents can use the lower fares to galvanize their clients into action.
All of these developments make for an exciting year ahead, but the key ingredient is clear: travel agents. As independent travel professionals, you continue to illumine the face of the industry with your destination expertise, fierce commitment to client satisfaction and deep joy of traveling. Without you, our industry would lose something invariably precious. We know 2017 will be a great year for travel agents and can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.