Published on : Friday, December 13, 2013
A recent article on Yahoo! Education entitled “Five Dead-End Jobs, and How to Escape Them” claimed that travel agent jobs are “being replaced by DIY technology platforms,” and quoted a so-called “professional career coach” as saying “there’s just no need to use a travel agent in this day and age.”
ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby responded quickly on behalf of travel agents everywhere to set the record straight.
Here is his response:
RE: “Five Dead-End Jobs, and How to Escape Them”
The inclusion of travel agents in your recent article about “dead end jobs” couldn’t be farther off the mark. Before slapping such a label on an entire industry, you might have considered some basic research. Since it appears that you didn’t, I am writing you to set the record straight on behalf of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and travel agents everywhere.
Contrary to the myth of the travel agent as a dying breed, a myth perpetuated by your article, those who have adapted to the internet era have not only survived but have thrived. Travel agents have fully embraced new technologies and serve consumers through both specialized professional travel distribution technology not available to consumers, as well as internet-based tools.
Travel agents are alive and well – and they do a robust business by providing expertise and advice to millions of travelers every year. As of year-end 2012, there were about 8,000 U.S. travel agency firms in business employing 105,000 people. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this employment total is projected to grow by 10 percent by 2020, “about as fast as the average for all occupations” – hardly a “dying career” path.) In 143 million transactions, those agencies sold $86 billion worth of air travel (64 percent of the market). Travel agents also sell the vast majority of the $15 billion spent on cruises (64 percent), and $9 billion in tour packages (66 percent). Those are big numbers. Travel agents help to move people around the country and around the world, and in the process keep our economy moving. “There’s just no need to use a travel agent in this day and age?” Not by a long shot.
Your article paints travel agency jobs as “lead[ing] to nowhere.” Clearly, you did not talk to anyone in the industry before writing your article. A career as a travel agent is exciting, fast‐paced and rewarding. ASTA travel agents have experienced hundreds of destinations over their careers, experience they use to guide the traveling public, and almost a quarter hold advanced degrees. Further, a 2011 Oprah segment on the “Happiest Jobs in America” revealed that travel agents are among the happiest professionals in America. Travel agents, along with clergy and special education teachers, were given this distinction, thanks in part to the amount of social interaction these professions offer.
We agree that travel advice is plentiful, easily available, and being re-imagined. But, while their role has changed over time, travel agents serve a vital public purpose and fulfill a range of needs for the traveling public. They use cutting-edge technologies and proprietary supplier offerings to save consumers money and time. As long as money and time remain finite, consumers will use, and will continue to use, travel agents. Claiming that these hard-working women and men work in dead-end jobs does them and your readers a huge disservice.
Tags: Association News