Consumer awareness of the value of qualified travel professionals is key to the “full and long-term recovery” of the travel industry.
That’s the principle behind an open letter to the industry that Diane Petras, president of The Travel Institute, released 31AUG announcing upcoming efforts to increase consumer awareness of the value of working with a travel professional.
“As an industry, we understand the value travelers gain when working with a travel agent. Along with saving time and often money, there is peace of mind, expertise, and much more travelers gain when working with a travel professional rather than booking on their own. The COVID crisis of the last 18+ months has certainly illuminated that value for countless travelers and for our industry.
And so, at this critical time when travelers want desperately to travel but are apprehensive about navigating ever-changing travel risks, options and protocols, the time is right for The Travel Institute to emphasize and educate consumers about the value certified travel agents bring to the travel planning process before, during, and after a trip. I believe successfully supporting travelers now will impact the reputation and success of agents for many years to come.
To be clear, there is a distinct difference between a travel agent and a travel professional. Anyone can hang out a shingle as a travel agent today, but saying ‘I’m a travel agent’ is very different from achieving and maintaining the level of education and experience needed to do the job well.
Our goal is to create better agents and to help consumers find them. Doing so is particularly important during a time when travelers are so apprehensive and serves travelers, travel agents, and the travel industry all very well.
If we are successful in our efforts over the coming months, you will see mainstream media highlight the advantages of working with a certified professional agent, and I imagine our messaging will easily resonate with you as an industry stakeholder. We also intend to highlight our Certified Travel Agent Directory as a way to help travelers find, qualify and contact a certified agent.
Our mission as a non-profit, independent third party hasn’t changed. We build strong career professionals and educate our industry and consumers about their value. It’s clearer than ever—not all agents are equal. Truly professional agents are certified industry consultants able to navigate complex protocols, policies and fees, provide counsel on the fine print, and much more.
People ask why use a certified travel agent, but I think the better question is why not? Cheers to the imminent return of travel and to the value our industry is capable of bringing to countless travelers around the world!
Stay safe and keep learning,