Travel agents are not obsolete
President Obama recently caused a kerfuffle when he said during a campaign stop, “when was the last time somebody went to a bank teller instead of using the ATM, or used a travel agent instead of just going online? A lot of jobs that used to be out there requiring people now have become automated.”
Of course the President (and most Senators, Governors and Representatives) never use either bank tellers or travel agents. They have staff members to do that. My guess is that many of those staff members do use travel agents, for the simple reason that DC staffers have more important things to do than surf the ‘Net trying to shave five bucks off an airfare.
The President, needless to say, is a special case. With Air Force One ready to whisk you off to anywhere in the world your fancy takes you, who needs a travel agent?
Presidents should have someone on staff to do a reality check before their boss makes any observation of how things work in the real world outside their little bubble. The simple fact of the matter is President Obama is clueless about the lives of mere mortals like you and me. I for one have a friendly relationship with all the tellers at my local bank, even though I am not shy about using an ATM.
And lest you Democrats out there think I’m piling on your guy, Obama is not the only one to stick his foot in it. Remember when President Bush (the first one) was taken into a supermarket and reacted to the checkout scanner like it was something out of a science fiction movie? He’d clearly been nowhere near a supermarket in perhaps forever.
So just in case President Obama is reading this, let me assure him that travel agents are alive and well and prospering. Indeed, the home-based travel agent sector is one of the few bright spots in the economy that those folks in Washington are supposed to be busy improving.
The number of home-based agents continues to grow, thanks to the ease of entry into the profession, low- and no-cost host agency arrangements, and the need for one-on-one, professional assistance in planning complex vacation arrangements.
And consumers agree. Travel agents still book “the lion’s share” of cruises according to Travel Weekly, more than cruise lines. According to a 2011 Market Profile Study, just 19% of consumers think the Internet is the place to go for good service in the cruise market.
And for you ambitious home-basers, here’s a great business opportunity: Sooner or later (which depends on your political leanings, I suppose) President Obama will be a private citizen once again. And when he achieves that lofty estate, he’ll need a travel agent. Maybe it can be you!