A Closer Look: Travel Agents: The Real Problem-Solvers In The Travel Industry!
May 26th, 2011 • By: Kevin Mitchell

While not as severe as last year’s Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the Grimsvotn volcano, which began erupting on Saturday, is a fresh reminder of the critical need for the managed-travel best practice of being able to track traveling employees wherever they are in the world. The 2010 volcanic calamity stranded a staggering 5 million travelers in distant lands far away from their home bases.

Grimsvotn also prompts us to note that there is no substitution for an experienced travel agent to rebook flights, hotels and rental cars, and solve other problems when major disruptions inevitably occur. It seems as if we have experienced it all recently with volcanoes spewing dangerous ash, once-in-50-year winter storms foreclosing on travel, sweeping political revolutions, tsunamis and nuclear reactor meltdowns.

During the past year, millions of displaced travelers spent fruitless hours on hold with airline call centers endeavoring to find their way back home while millions of others, who had booked their reservations through travel agents, were rebooked in a timely manner. Travel agents, most of whom are paid nothing by the airlines for their efforts, worked around the clock to assist their customers.

Today, travel technology is truly remarkable; however, in the hands of a professional travel agent, such technology can solve the most complex of problems. Travel agents are the true day in, day out problem solvers in our industry. The silver lining in these clouds of travel disruption is that travel agents’ value is only increasing in the eyes of consumers.

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Founded in 1994, Business Travel Coalition empowers the managed travel community to influence issues of strategic importance to their organizations. Mitchell is the organization’s chairman.