I am a travel person, and you could say I have always been a travel person. When I did my first work experience in a Thomas Cook Shop over fifteen years ago, the teacher who later became my head of sixth form was so impressed at my knowledge that he encouraged me to forge a career in travel, even if that meant missing out on university. At the time that was unusual, everyone was going to university and I was almost sat on the sidelines, but some good fortune meant I was able to find an apprenticeship with an independent travel agency in my local area.
Knowledge has always been my prize possession. That doesn’t have to mean that you have direct knowledge, for instance having travelled to a particular resort or hotel, but you are able to have deep knowledge on how the system works. I have been following the aviation industry for the best part of 25 years (and yes I am not much older than that, I started young!). It has seen considerable change over that period, from a time where there was no such thing as a ‘low cost airline’ to nowadays where we thing nothing of jetting off to somewhere for a quick break. However, the systems and processes behind the growth hasn’t changed, as that is quite true of a travel agent too.
As a travel agent we do get some flack. The most common being has the internet not killed you off yet, and my response is why should it? If they knew and trusted a good travel agent they wouldn’t be asking me that question. Its all about relationships and people trusting either your opinion or knowledge. Don’t knock it until you try it, and you might be surprised.
High street travel agents, at least the good ones are not going anywhere either. Sometimes I’m felt to feel inferior to those who work from home with the belief we only work during office hours with a restricted portfolio of operators to work with. That in reality isn’t the case, you are either a good travel agent or not, it doesn’t matter where your office is.
There has been many a time replying to a clients email at 10pm at night, reassuring about a query or a problem, or just talking to them at a time which is convenient for them, which might not be the usual office hours. I also hand deliver tickets if required, and email the hotels ahead of time for those where I have a contact to make sure the clients are made to feel at home.
All of this is very simple, and ‘delights’ clients. With modern technology anybody can do this anywhere, be it by email, text or even Skype to be as flexible as possible, and you have to make the right contacts.
I’m proud I work in a high street agency and believe me when I say the good ones can really make a difference when organising and booking your holiday.