July 28, 2016

Travelers embracing human travel agents again for inspiration


Today's traveler wants more curated results along with the best deals and packages. And as algorithms can only go so far, they are prepared to sacrifice a bit of the control that OTAs offer.

Although there are about half the number of travel agents working in the U.S. as there were in 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this new paradigm has created a space, once more, for old-fashioned human intervention. According to MMGY’s Reid, 28% of millennials surveyed said they had consulted a traditional travel agent in the last 12 months - higher than any other age segment - and 30% said they plan to do so in the next two years.

It’s worth asking if we lose something by relying solely on technology to plan a vacation. “Having a travel agent can optimize a trip for you,” says Paul English, the co-founder of a new travel app called Lola. Planning a trip shouldn’t be a stressful experience. “If the travel agent has expertise and knows your preferences well, they can cut down your options to the best two or three. It saves people time.”

Lola is one example of what travel planning in the future may look like. The app, which is currently in limited-release, is intuitively easy to use, and supplements technological innovation and data with responsive customer service. To begin, you simply send a text about what kind of trip you’re planning. It can be vague or specific, because it’s just a conversation starter: on the other end is a travel consultant, equipped with experience, data, and your stated preferences to help plan your trip.

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