Stay in Line, Online

In the professional world, “fear of the future” is more than just a phrase, it’s the puppeteer that keeps businesses dangling by a string.  Even the most successful industries struggle to keep up with constant innovation and change the future brings.  Especially in today’s day and age, not only are the minds of consumers constantly changing, but the technology available has exponentially empowered consumers.  In response,  businesses have been forced to shift from product management to platform management to properly reach and engage their consumers.

With respect to travel agencies, however, the future is often looked at as a potential threat to the entire industry’s existence.  Since their origin, travel agents have thrived on their cornerstone of providing personalized services to satisfy each individual consumer’s needs.  These include face-to-face meetings, scheduled phone calls, and constant updates throughout the client’s experience.  As successful as these strategies may have been in the past, they stand no chance at competing against the swift innovation and integration of social media and new technologies.  Therefore, travel agents must not view this revolution as threatening, but embrace the opportunity to flourish.

priceline
Priceline is the most popularly used online travel booking site.

The threat resides in online travel agencies’ abilities to provide the same services as traditional agents more conveniently and at cheaper prices.  Since agents have always relied on offline services to personalize relationships with clients, they have transformed their approach to engage customers through online versions of traditional practices such as customer service and travel plan customization.  Social media’s ability to provide a constant window of conversation gives real travel agents the upper hand in their ability to humanize the online process with the same level of convenience.

Along with integrating advances and innovations, it is still key for traditional agents to hold true to their roots.  They must develop a blended transition from offline to online to maintain consistent strategies while operating across different platforms.  In transition, agencies work to preserve relationships with all consumers and corporate entities in hopes of maintaining brand loyalty.  By plugging themselves into different social media atmospheres, traditional agents are not only competing with, but integrating the online threat into their own strategies.

As technology continues to develop and evolve, so do the users.  Eventually, consumers will have all the powers of a travel agent at their fingertips.  This leaves agents with the challenge of promoting themselves and the benefits they have to offer rather in comparison to self-planning.  Agents must become proficient in the use of the same technologies consumers are using and become experts in the proper use of various social media.  With the many tools online media has to offer, agents will only be successful when using them properly and effectively in accordance with their audience.

Overall, it is clear that travel agents must adapt in this business environment to demonstrate their practice is beneficial.  That being said, agents have the opportunity to maintain a business presence with plenty more room to grow.  Inevitably, without maintaining a presence in the online social sphere, success is next to impossible in the travel agency industry.

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