The Travel Agency Industry: Past, Present and Future

September 17, 2021

The travel industry has had to contend with the unexpected - a true worldwide pandemic. But that doesn't mean that the travel industry is done for!

Perhaps more than ever, people want to get business done efficiently to make up for all the lost time.

In this stressful time, corporate travel agencies have had to realign their priorities to match those of their customers.

Now, safety is paramount and the ability to navigate sudden cancellations and government rulings is necessary.

To understand where the travel industry is today and where it is headed, it is important to look into the past and realize where we have come from.

Travel agencies are more necessary than ever to deal with the ever-changing world outside our office doors. Let's look at where agencies all come from, and where the travel industry is going.

The Travel Agency Industry In The Past

The travel agency world is actually relatively new in the course of human existence, only coming into being in the 1800s. Of course, this likely seems like a long time ago, but it means that the travel industry is constantly moving forward and innovating.

The very first travel agency was founded in 1841 by Thomas Cook. But things didn't really take off for the average individual until the invention of the commercial aeroplane in the 1920s. If you will recall your pandemic history, this means that the travel industry has already dealt with a massive global disease in the form of the Spanish Flu.

This story, while sad, shows that the travel agency industry is here to stay forever and will weather any storm. Now, let's move on to the industry in its modern form and how it is dealing with the constant changes of the 21st century.

The Corporate Travel Industry In the Present

There are many factors that make travel in the current era a challenge. However, the travel agency industry continues to modernize and adapt to every new step along the way. Three things continue to challenge and change the industry: Covid, DIY travel, and technology - let's take a look at each in detail.

COVID

Of course, this is the big name of the game in 2021. Covid-19 has and still is affecting so many sectors of the world we live in. But no industry is as committed to bouncing back as the travel industry - it's simply vital for the proper conduction of business in the world.

While it is a good idea to try to keep yourself safe on a personal level (check out our article on minimizing contact while on trips) there are some things you can leave to your travel agent. Hiring a corporate travel agent might be even more beneficial in this uncertain time.

This is because government requirements for testing and vaccination change almost on the daily. Flights are also more likely to be cancelled and things are just generally messy all around. More and more scams are popping up, ready to prey on desperate travellers.

A travel agency can take care of everything for you. Any problems that arise whether on your end or with one of the bookings can be taken care of by them, rather than stressing you out. You are travelling to get business done, you have enough on your mind.

DIY Travel

With the internet readily available to anyone, people feel that they can do everything themselves. Especially with websites like Airbnb, Uber, and Skyscanner. But this "go it alone" approach is rife for issues when it comes to corporate travel. Let's look at each individually.

Airbnb

At first, Airbnb seemed like a dream come true. Say goodbye to overpriced hotels in the middle of nowhere! But now these vacation rentals are not only ruining the housing industry for locals, they're not even that great a deal anymore.

The constant addition of fees means the prices are generally comparable to your average hotel. Check-in can be messy and complicated  - it's not someone's full time job to make sure you get settled in easily.

And there is a general lack of consistency, one place may not have good showers, and another might scam you, you can't know how it's going to go.

In particular in these trying times, the inconsistency in sanitation is a huge concern. Every single property is going to have its own standards.

Skyscanner

Websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights seem great at first - they trawl for the better priced flights for you.

However, travel agencies do the same thing and can have even better prices due to their agreements with various companies.

Additionally, the cancellation policies will generally be better than the majority of the third-party flight websites Skyscanner will bring back.

These third-party flight companies simply aren't as trustworthy, and many people wind up out of pocket and waiting for a flight they were never actually booked on.

Uber

Uber and any of its foreign and domestic counterparts are nice - sometimes. But depending on where you are going the prices can quickly add up compared to simply renting a car through a travel agent. Uber and the like are also facing increasing pushback from many countries and it's not available at all in many more.

Additionally, people hopping in and out of Ubers means more exposure to Covid. Cars are very difficult to sanitize.

Travel And Technology

Travel agent's today can provide technological access and unparalleled customer support to handle your every issue.

Rather than needing to call around for every single detail (hotel, car, flight, etc.) you can talk with one person who can arrange all of that for you.

When you are someone in business looking for things to be accomplished quickly and cleanly, a travel agent is the only way to go.

And while it has been a struggle to drag just about every company into the internet age, travel agencies are on the cutting edge. Apps and platforms are custom made to be all-in-one with business travellers in mind.

Technology has also just made things easier for every travel customer. Many airlines are going contactless, for instance. You don't have to worry about having a folder full of all your booking confirmations and tickets - it's all right on your phone now!

Technology also makes it easier to be more Covid compliant. Now you no longer have to touch ticketing kiosks. Facial recognition is now far more common than needing to spend prolonged time showing your ID or using a fingerprint scanner. All in all, technology is clearly for the better when it comes to travel.

The Travel Industry in The Future

The travel industry is now forever changed due to Covid-19, but that doesn't mean it's for the worse. Because of new updates in safety procedures you don't have to worry as much about being sick.

For instance, wearing a mask doesn't just protect you from Covid, it protects you from any other airborne disease that could be circulating through the plane's air conditioning system.

Technology is sure to continue to change and update the travel world. Travel agencies will still be a huge part of these updates, as they can keep abreast of sudden changes better as it is their full-time job to keep you satisfied.

With more tourists every year, there is a demand for the streamlining and ease of access of travel. This can only benefit those who travel for business - they can reap the success of new apps and programs while maintaining a seat in the cushy business class.

The changes to businesses themselves will likely impact the travel industry. With more remote workers, they will be used to doing everything over the internet already.

The need for physical locations, whether for a travel agency or a corporate office, is diminishing.

Still, this new world is a little uncertain. Who knows what is going to come next, but taking it day by day with someone to guide you through the process is always going to be better than trying to do it yourself.

If you're looking to start business travel in 2021, you can check out our ultimate guide to all the things you will need to get started.

What Else Should You Know

Now that you've learned everything you need to know about the past, present, and future of the travel agency industry, you're probably wondering what's next.

It is at this time that you should pick the best corporate travel agency for your business that can take you into the future!

Locomote is the best way to handle your business travel in a hassle-free way. You can save time and money through our award winning platform and service offering.

Get started today with a free trial to see how we can save you money!

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