Digital Booking Sites

Travel Agents Argue the Web Hasn’t Made Them Obsolete

Sep 03, 2013 6:34 am

Skift Take

Smart agents are specialized already, but there are many that still argue from their storefront office that you should still be weary of booking yourself. Those people will continue to disappear.

— Jason Clampet

Free Report: The Changing Business of Extended-Stay Hotels

The digital revolution has imperiled the future of many job categories, including darkroom film processor, typewriter repairman and telephone operator.

With the surge of sophisticated travel websites, can we include travel agents to the list of nearly obsolete jobs?

As you might expect, the American Society of Travel Agents doesn’t think so. The trade group that represents more than 5,900 travel agents and travel firms rejects the notion that travel websites will eventually put warmhearted agents out of work.

The trade group was again defending its profession last week after the job search site CareerCast.com listed travel agents among “useless jobs” that are becoming increasingly obsolete. The list also included data entry, sign spinning and shoe repair.

Paul Ruden, senior vice president of the trade group, called the CareerCast list insulting and inaccurate.

Although travel agents in brick-and-mortar offices handle only about 25% to 30% of air travel bookings, he said most agents focus primarily on booking complex trips, such as corporate travel or cruises and tours.

“Travel agents are alive and well and they do a robust business by providing expertise and advice to millions of travelers every year, using a combination of new and old technologies,” Ruden said in a letter to CareerCast.com.

(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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