Business travelers are increasingly taking on more of the financial burden for hotel and motels, and the high-end travel agencies that handle their costs are gaining in popularity.
Many travel agents and hoteliers are now looking to be the new hoteliers.
“They’re the new breed of hotelier,” said John R. Bogle, president of the National Travel Agents Association.
“It’s not just the high end, it’s also the low end and the middle end, the average person.”
Bogle said agents are getting more sophisticated, and are making more of a conscious effort to understand their clients and their needs.
“A lot of agents are starting to know their clients,” he said.
Travel agents are now more aware of the “value” of their services, Bogle added.
Travel agencies also are working on technology that helps them get the best price.
“We’re not just selling one hotel,” Bogle noted.
“Our business is changing.”
The travel agency industry has grown over the past five years, and in the past few years the number of agents has doubled.
But there are still significant differences between agents and other hoteliers in the way they work and how they operate.
Travel agency workers work in a variety of jobs, including sales, service, administrative and administrative management, and travel management.
Agents also are the ones that handle hotel rooms and motel stays.
Travelers can work in hotels as agents, hoteliers or both, depending on their needs, said Richard L. Ragan, president and CEO of Travelers Management, a business travel agency that operates in over 100 countries.
“When you have a customer who needs a room for a couple days, or they need a room in a week, they may not necessarily want to wait on an agent,” Ragan said.
“But they do want to be able to contact a travel agency.”
The agents and agents who do manage hotels and motELIs also have a variety, depending upon the type of hotel and the type and type of service the customer wants, he added.
Some hotels require a booking through a phone app, whereas others offer online reservations.
For example, some hotels will only accept bookings by phone, while others will accept online reservations, said Bogle.
The same goes for restaurants and other venues, where the customer can call a reservation agent.
“You have to be very precise in your requests and you have to have a good understanding of your customers’ needs,” he added, explaining that agents also have to provide a service to the customer, such as cleaning the room.
Some travelers are choosing agents and hotels as a way to make their own living, said Ragan.
They do this to save money, to earn a little extra money in the long run and to keep their options open.
“The more money you can save, the better off you are,” he noted.
In addition to working for hotels, travel agents are also helping other travelers to get to their destinations, he said, noting that they can help clients find their next hotel and even help travelers with specific tasks, such in transportation or planning for a trip.
Agents are also providing help for travelers in the middle of a trip, said Steve Hickey, owner of the travel agency C.R.H. Hickey in San Francisco.
He said agents work to get the traveler from point A to point B, including picking up and dropping off luggage, picking up their luggage at a hotel and checking out their belongings at a different hotel, for example.
“I can’t speak to all the things that you need,” he explained.
But when traveling, travelers need to have options.
“If you’re stuck, you don’t have an agent to come help you out, to help you get to your destination,” Hickey said.
He added that many travelers have a “hobby” to travel and he encourages travelers to “be creative.”
But even with agents and the travel industry in a strong position, there are challenges that travel agents face.
In an era of technology, the travel agencies face more challenges than ever, he noted, and as a result, many are starting their careers with a lower income and less money than they would like.
“What I do not see as an issue is a shortage of agents and a lack of people who have the skills and the drive to take on the tasks that they are looking to do,” Hickey said.
In some ways, the need for agents is a reflection of the growing trend of consumers wanting to buy items online.
“In the marketplace, consumers are becoming more digitally savvy,” he continued.
“Now they want to buy things online, so we need to be aware of that and respond accordingly.”
In the past, it would have been difficult for agents to handle the costs of getting a trip to their destination, said Robert J. Hargrove, chairman of the board of the Travelers Marketing Association.
Today, agents are