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An open letter to travel agents


Book. With. A. Travel. Agent. Good grief, is it that hard to comprehend?

Dear travel agents of Australia,

 

I like you. I really, really like you. I've explored Mayan ruins with you, floated beside you in the Dead Sea and spent many a cold Melbourne night wining and dining with you. You're open-minded, passionate and intelligent, and, when the going gets tough (which it always, inevitably does), you get working.

 

But here's the thing: how can you stand it? My colleague and I were relaxing after a meal last week and caught the back end (and a truly arse-y back end it was) of the latest Webjet ad that was having a go at travel agents. And we got angry.

 

  

Over the years, I have written scores of articles championing the use of professional agents. I don't write about things I don't want to. I write about my own and others' experiences both using and not using a travel agent and the result is the same. Book with an accredited travel agent and you're covered. In fact, you're more than covered, you're tucked in, read a bed time story and kissed good night.

 

So how can you stand the constant disavowal of your value?

 

My mum, a retired travel consultant of the age before computers, tells me that travel agents take no notice of the naysayers and maintain their success through simply doing their job and doing it well.

 

But is that enough?

 

My family is planning a multi-country vacation. We're coming from all over and while the plan is relatively simple, there have already been raised voices. Every one of us is a professional, yet when I say that their best bet is to book with a professional travel agent (and thereby end the endless trail of emails), they simply ignore me.

 

Your message isn't getting through.

 

It's time for #OperationTravelAgentFightBack.

 

There's a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/operationtravelagentfightback/) dedicated to bringing the truth to the anti-travel agent campaign that Webjet thinks will get them business. And it's good, really good.

 

Travel agents post stories about real events when they've come through for their clients and even when they, very, very simply beat Webjet in price. Last week, an agent showed how they beat Webjet in a quote for a family, saving a family of four $9,262.94 - and, unlike Webjet, no low cost carriers were used.

 

So why are my family not getting the message?

 

I know you're fighting back, whether that be Rocky-style or Ghandi-style; I know it's happening. But surely it's time to get others on board, because this choir don't need no more preaching, sister.

 

You don't need a fancy marketing budget (though of course, if you have one, please use it); post a clever video and watch it go viral (the use of cats or babies may work), or simply chat with your clients about their experience with you and ask them to share that experience with their friends.

 

As soon as I finish this, I will be writing a text message to my sister in law, and this is what it will say:

 

Hey XXXXX,
I know you want to start the ball rolling for our Japan and so on trip. I really recommend you visit your local travel agent. From a price point, most agents will be able to get the same if not better prices for you and they'll be able to book flights and accommodation that's suited to you and the fam. But more importantly, they come with support should there be any issues and will likely come up with stuff that we've missed, like transfers etc. Give me call if you've got any questions. Gaya X

 

I'm just one person, but if I can just get XXXXX to book with an agent and then tell others, we can knock those silly Webjet ads out of people's minds. Just be awesome for us.

 

On your side,

Gaya

 

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Written by: Gaya Avery


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