Another look at the rebirth of accredited agents, by George Michalczyk

In case you missed George’s article on LinkedIn, have a read of it here:


I first became fascinated with the travel industry when I was transferred to Westpac’s travel department in the early 1970s, after a few years working as a bank teller. It turned out that this would be the springboard for my career in travel – and I’ve never looked back.

Later, an opportunity to manage an agency took me to Travel Time International in the Perth CBD. Soon enough, I bought the agency outright and owned it for 18 months. After selling Travel Time, I moved to Motive Travel which was part of the ASX listed Motive Group Ltd.

This was way back in 1987. That year, the America’s Cup was held in Fremantle, and to help cope with the huge influx of sailing fans into the old port city, as well as manage various sponsorship elements of the event, I leant a hand to the Motive Group doing consultancy work for the America’s Cup. I enjoyed the experience and, as the America’s Cup was not the financial windfall the Motive Group expected, I made a successful bid to take over complete ownership of Motive Travel. In the near three decades that have since passed, I’ve watched this small, local business evolve into something special. Today, Motive Travel will not only take you to many of Australia’s (and the world’s!) top sporting events, but music concerts, cultural getaways and everything in between.

Over that time, the travel agency world has seen a whole host of developments, not least the rise and rise of the internet, which naturally brought with it online providers. In a recent article, we took a look at the perils of booking online via unlicensed agents, a piece which found a lot of resonance with those who had been burned by such firms before. Of course, with so many providers out there, it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the proverbial chaff, so really doing your research will pay off in the long run –  and keep your bank balance smiling.

The importance of being accredited

In that article, we reiterated the importance of booking your trips with a reputable, trusted agency – above all, one that’s accredited, as we are. At Motive Travel, we’re proud to be a member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and accredited under their AFTA Travel Agents Accreditation Scheme (ATAS). We’re also an Associate Member of the helloworld group, as well as holders of Qantas Platinum Travel Agent status – accolades that mark us out as an agency to be trusted. Even so, the rise of shady, disreputable agencies continues unabated, even though consumers are wising up to their sordid ruse.

It’s true that many believed that the traditional travel agent would soon go the way of the VCR, cassette and chequebook – obsolete, but still used by a faithful few. However, new research coming out of the United States has shown that this is anything but the case. Let’s take a look at what MMGY, a travel marketing company, found out.

Perhaps the most striking statistic of all is the fact that there is a projected 50 per cent increase in all holidaymakers planning to use a travel agent for their next trip away. That’s a figure which should put paid to any predictions traditional travel agents are dying out, and even though the research is American, it’s a trend that look set to follow suit around the world. You might think that this proportion is largely made up of the older generation who are loathe to change their ways and go digital – after all, we at Motive have had customers returning year-on-year. However, that’s not quite the case…

Bucking the trend

Have you heard of the term ‘millennial’? It refers to the group of people born roughly between 1980 and the year 2000 – those of us who reached young adulthood around the turn of the millennium. This is the generation who (allegedly) have the best handle on technology, social media in this ever more digital age, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s this group who are forsaking the physical, real-life travel agent – but you’d be wrong!

MMGY found that some 34 per cent of millennials regularly use travel agents, and that the more money they spent on travel, the greater the likelihood they employed the services of an agent. Why? It’s deceptively simple.

Tree of knowledge

When spending hard-earned money on something as substantial as a holiday (especially if it’s in another country) you’re always going to want to make sure that it’s for something worthwhile, with little risk of waste. Therefore, people are willing to pay for the expertise and knowledge that comes part and parcel of booking with a licensed travel agent like Motive. After all, me and my team have been doing this for a long, long time, and know the ins and outs of the industry better than anyone.

It’s this knowledge and peace of mind that you’re paying for, not just your airline tickets and accommodation. In these austere times, people want as much value for their money as possible, and that’s something that you simply don’t get when you buy from an unlicensed agent. Not only that, but a lot of the hard work that comes with booking a holiday is taken out of the equation, as it’s left to your agent. For time-poor professionals, this is something of a Godsend. We can even advise you on places you may never have even heard of – something you’d never when booking with a faceless online entity.

Be sure to take a look at the Motive Travel website itself to find out just why booking with a proper accredited agency is much the better option when it comes to planning that well-deserved trip away.

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Originally published on LinkedIn on 5 October 2016.

 

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