At a time when travel booking
sites and apps are a dime a dozen, and travelers can plan an entire trip
without speaking to a real person, travel professionals are actually in high demand.
Just don't call them agents --
today, the industry title for these planning professional is advisors. And the
stance on this is official: The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) was
called the American Society of Travel Agents until it changed its name last
"Travel agents have become
trusted advisors, akin to financial advisors, who make the overall travel
experience better and get travelers maximum value for their travel
dollar," says the organization's spokeswoman, Erika Richter. "That's
why we rebranded ourselves."
As travelers discover the
incomparable benefit of working with a professional, business for three of the
biggest travel advisor networks is booming.
At the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki, for example, guests receive
breakfast, early check-in and late checkout by booking through Travel Leaders
Courtesy of Alohilani
Henry Harteveldt, a travel
industry analyst and the founder of Atmosphere Research Group, confirms travel
advisors are alive and well. Harteveldt's job involves looking at the role of
online travel bookings and understanding how travelers are making travel
Unlike the past when advisors
traditionally worked out of a brick-and-mortar strorefront and had mostly local
clients, today's advisors are more likely to work virtually and have clients
all over the world.
Harteveldt believes there are
many perks to using a travel advisor. For one, while there's no denying that
online booking sites often offer unbeatable deals, travel advisors can
typically find great deals, too.
Plus, they'll leverage their
relationships with hotels and cruise lines to arrange for amenities that you
can't get if you book on your own.
A real-life example of this: A
search of online travel sites for a three-night refundable stay this October at
Le Royal Monceau, in Paris, one of the city's most luxurious hotels, turned up
an average price of $930 a night without any additional amenities such as