Who Needs a Travel Agent? –

Posted on August 6, 2007. Filed under: Travel2.0 |

is the title of this report in MediaPost which actually deals with the impact of social networks on travel planning.

It’s fast becoming main stream opinion that recommendations by friends are the most important influencing factor on product choice in travel even more than price. Now, that should be music to the ears of online travel intermediaries who need to get off the price treadmill.

Here’s the key comment by Rohit Bargava of Influential Marketing Blog:

Bhargava applauds the move, but he wants to see even more improvement in travel social networking sites. “A big thing that’s missing in the travel industry world online is the community sites that we’re talking about are very separate from the booking sites, and if someone was smart, they would try to put those closer together.”

I’ve made the same comment a number of times on this blog and agree that a tighter integration is necessary as the industry evolves. There’s hardly a week without some new Travel 2.0 site sending me a pitch about their new innovation and most of them are very useful tools but lack the integration with the booking process.

The model of “Dream – Learn – Plan – Go” still applies as it did eight years ago when we first coined it for the process travelers inevitably go through. The tighter this is all integrated on one site the easier it is for people to be satisfied.

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5 Responses to “Who Needs a Travel Agent? –”

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Please tell me more. How does the reality of
our site compare with your dream of how things
should be? I’ll keep your comment in mind
Dream-Learn-Plan-Go and read through our site.
I’d appreciate your comments or feedback.
Do you have any advice for us?

Check out http://www.Tripology.com
It’s a 2.0 travel site that lets you submit your trip info and puts you in touch with 3 specialized travel agents. pretty cool

You’ve done a pretty good job at integrating the elements I mentioned. The only thing I miss are interactive maps.

Many of my clients are travel agents and have been worrying about how to make themselves more relevant to online users. I have been recommending that travel agents use social networking sites to establish themselves as experts and provide valuable (and unbiased) information to users. The problem that I see is trust. End users don’t trust travel agents to provide unbiased recommendations, so the best method is to build the trust and then let the selling follow.

Here is a great article http://tinyurl.com/yq2nnr that describes the issue travel agents face today. The highest credibility has always been given to recommendations by friends and relatives. Now the collective feedback by travelers, often with similar interests and tastes, are ranking very high. Today’s travel agents have to earn their customers trust by superior product knowledge and unbiased advice. If they are seen as supplier influenced that trust is challenged. The more complex the travel arrangements the better their chance to be involved and in a position to add value. Unless they can add value they will not have a position in today’s marketplace.

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