Travel Agent Strike and Plight?

Old Aug 31st, 2001, 06:51 AM
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Travel Agent Strike and Plight?

Yesterday, travel agents stopped working for 2 hours to protest the cuts in commissions paid by airlines to agents who ticket passengers. Do you think this action was justified? Do you think it had any effect?

Meanwhile, in response to agent's claims that airlines will now be able to raise on-line fares without purchasers noticing the increase if they are buying through the airline's website, one corporate rep. said:

"Whatever money the airlines save today on commissions, they are going to give away in fare sales in September and October," said Kevin P. Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, which lobbies on behalf of large corporations. [NYTimes]

Do you believe this?


Old Aug 31st, 2001, 07:13 AM
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No I do not think the 2 hours of not booking airline tickets had any effect; i think they needed to be for a longer period of time.
I don't believe the airlines will give any better rates on the internet if they end up by running travel agents out of business, because they will have to add more staff on to take care of the calls they agents used to take - even Travelocity started a new 800 number for their "internet" customers to receive personal service.
Old Aug 31st, 2001, 07:37 AM
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More from the article:
Richard M. Copland, the president of the American Society of Travel
Agents said

There is no question that the vehicle of choice is the travel professional.''

While Mr. Copland and others say ...snip.. there are still nearly 30,000 travel agencies in the United States, which sell about 80 percent of all airline tickets.

I don't believe the vehicle of choice is a travel professional. Not the people and family I know.

I also question the 80% of all airline tickets being sold through travel agents. Note; further in the article it made a distinction between corporate travel ["because most [companies] now make deals directly with airlines and pay service fees to travel management companies." ] and the plain old travel agent. The 80% reflects travel agents, not management companies.

If the 80% number is true, wouldn't you want to reduce cost from your majority seller (travel agents w/80% sales) if you were an airline? Imagine if Wal*Mart negotaited for the airlines. Travel agents would eat leftover coach food as payment.

I don't believe the 80% number, and I don't think the action was justified; just desparate. Wasn't the photo with the NYT story even worse for the agents?
Old Aug 31st, 2001, 09:43 AM
No Sympathy
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I had a TA that we gave a lot of business to for at least 12 years. When I was planning a trip to Hawaii three years ago on frequent flyer miles and taking advantage of military hotels and discounts, I asked for advice on a couple of hotels and resorts. I was plainly told that "I am not making any money on you for this trip, so figure it out for yourself". I took his advice and I have been figuring it out for myself ever since. They have lost commissions on two cruises, business flights and hotel bookings over the last three years. Maybe they shouldn't be too independent. They may find that the rest of America can do without them as well.
Old Aug 31st, 2001, 11:25 AM
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That is exactly why I have stopped using travel agents and book either through airline travel sites (i.e. AAVacations) or just do it online or direct by myself. Travel agents are not looking to book independent flight and hotel reservations anymore. I've found they either refuse to book it completely, or look at the customer with an accusing glare and complete the booking grudgingly. I understand their need to make money, but what the previous poster said is true. After getting so used to doing it myself, I just end up calling the cruise company, all-inclusive, tour company myself. The only reason to use a TA is if the tour company (i.e. Apple Vacations) will not book to travelers direct but if so, there are always plenty of other tour companies (i.e. Pleasant Hawaiian) that will book directly for you. I would think that the smarter strategy is to book the non-money making trips but retain a loyal customer who will give you the moneymakers eventually.
Old Aug 31st, 2001, 11:50 AM
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Travel agents can protest whatever they want but no company is obligated to support them. There are some professions that cannot adapt to changing times and technology and think they are owed support by others merely for existing. No one needs travel agents to book airline tickets anymore due to the internet; too bad, but we don't need buggy whip manufacturers anymore, either. A smart travel agent will learn a new line of business or set of skills instead of whining that they can't get the cushy pay they got before because they had a monopoly on airline ticket access. It's not very smart to refuse to adapt to changing technology; older people who refuse to learn computers because they weren't around when they started working encounter difficult job prospects. I have no idea what the remark about raising fares without customers noticing means -- a customer was MUCH less likely to know what was going on with fares in the old days when they had no access to them than now when they can periodically review many different fares on a regular basis. This is why many don't take travel agents seriously; this was a ridiculous and desperate comment from an agent who couldn't come up with some legitimate reasoning. Believe me, I know a zillion times more what fares are and when they are raised than before the internet. IN fact, before the internet, travel agents never kept me informed about anything and you had little way of knowing if you got a good fare or not unless you yourself made lots of phone calls. Travel agents are just scared that they can't get away any more with people having no ability to buy their own tickets and now people can find out more easily if the agent really got them a good fare or not. I'm not even a professional, but I routinely found lower fares than travel agents just through following ads in the travel section or a few phone calls back pre-internet so I stopped using agents a long time ago as I think the majority are incompetent and lazy. I know there are some good ones and probably some agent will come on here to talk about how great they are -- yes, I agree there are no doubt some good ones BUT they are not the majority, they are quite rare.
Old Aug 31st, 2001, 01:10 PM
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This is not meant to offend anyone, but is just my opinion.

Travel agents who do corporate business and speicialize in a given destination will still exist for the "high end" client. If i was planning a trip to Malta, Beliz, etc. i would probably use a travel agent, but would first try to gather my own info on the internet. If i found 1 or 2 resorts that everyone raved about i would likely book it myself, but maybe give a travel agent the opportunity to find me a better rate (and this would also be an opportunity for him/her to talk me out of making a big mistake if s/he didn't like the property in question... a little positive reinforcement to help me sleep at night). If the rates were the same, i would book with the agent, otherwise i would book on my own.

However, the more "bread and butter" comissions (domestic airline and hotel travel) of the past are gone. It is just one more business that has become (partially) obsolete due to the internet. I don't necessarily need the opinion of a travel agent when i can go on forums such as this one and get the experiences of locals and other travelers that have recently vacationed at the area i wish to visit, as well as view all available flight options in seconds.

I live in a small city (pop. 80K) on the east coast, and when i moved here 10 years ago, there were 4 travel agencies on the main avenue... there are now NONE!
Old Aug 31st, 2001, 01:44 PM
Jim Rosenberg
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I liked my travel agent, but to use an agent at this point for the great majority of my travel would simply add hassle and cost. (Likewise, I'm not interested in paying a full service stock broker under the old commission schedules in that industry.) The access to information and booking tools that a savvy consumer has today on a 24/7 basis have made an agent a thing of the past in many cases. Who knows more about my needs and aspirations than I do? Who has more incentive to take care of my arrangements more cost-effectively than me? There have been powerful incentives over the past several years to learn how to use the new technology and it is spectacular. None this would seem to bode very well for travel agents, since their main asset in the past was knowing the system and having the tools to operate it. That has now been placed directly in the hands of consumers. I can understand the frustration of travel agents, but like it or not, the market has moved and it is not ever going back to what it was 10 years ago.
Old Nov 6th, 2001, 10:09 AM
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Right on Christina
Old Nov 6th, 2001, 10:15 AM
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There is room for both. TAs can handle my more intricate trips. I don't have the time to deal with the internet. I can look up stuff, but my TA has tricks and deals that the websites cannot compete with. I think TAs will eventually remain for affluent clients who prefer personal service. They don't need us for cheap tickets to make money.
Old Nov 6th, 2001, 12:36 PM
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Move it to another board people! Fodor's please delete this inane thread especially the copyrighted material which is posted here a direct violation of your rules.
Old Nov 7th, 2001, 09:41 PM
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Apparently there are quite a few people on here that have had bad experiences with travel agents.Hey thats fine if you dont find the need or desire to use them but why continue to beat it to death.

Just think for a moment(and I know this is hard to believe) but not everyone has the knowledge or access to the internet to find info about travel. Furthermore, there are people out there that dont care about spending more money, because time is money to some people. They dont care or have the time to go to Fodors or all the other websites out there. How do I know this, because many of these people call me.Of course most of the people that call me either are looking for miracle fares or have no idea what the travel industry is like. I book airline tickets all day long and usually average(prior to sept 11th) around $70,000 in sales a month and I make absolutly no commission off of that. Meanwhile I make probably around 20,000 a year. Add up the math. Granted, I probably sell more airfare than a TA would in a full service travel agency. But think about the money people. I am but one agent selling that much a year and you all think the airlines dont owe us just a tinsy bit more in return for all their business? The airlines get away with so much, its murder to us all,even to you consumers.

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