Travel Agent vs. Travel Advisor

Travel agent handing tickets to excited travelers

The travel industry is constantly evolving, with new trends, exclusive deals, and must-visit destinations emerging every season.

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So, too, is the work of travel professionals ever-changing. Shifts in demand and expectations, as well as the growth of new technologies have added to their long list of duties and reshaped their traditional roles.

In 2019, InteleTravel followed the lead of the recently rebranded trade association American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) in dropping the term ‘travel agent,’ and adopting ‘travel advisor,’ to more accurately represent what we do and how we contribute to your travel experience.

Advisors are so much more than salespeople, and if you’re not familiar with the profession, now’s a good time to get acquainted.

Why the Change?

‘Travel agent’ is an outdated term that falls short of defining our current job responsibilities. In fact, the ASTA’s rebranding was the organization’s first in nearly 75 years.

That’s an eternity in the travel industry. Consider this: Commercial flights emerged in popularity in the 1950s; cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Carnival were founded in 1968 and 1972, respectively; and Walt Disney World opened in 1971.

Add in the long list of popular destinations that have welcomed tourists en masse after decades of geographic or cultural isolation—such as Iceland, Egypt, and Thailand—and you begin to understand that travel today is not what it was in the 1940s. The same is true of ‘travel agents.’

For a better understanding of what these titles represent and their association to the public, let's examine the differences between the old term and the new.

Travel Agents

Travel agencies date back to 1841, when businessman Thomas Cook opened operations by offering 'holiday’ train excursions to the British countryside. Advancements in transportation expanded vacation possibilities—a trend continued to this day.

Since the mid-20th century, travel agents have mainly served as booking agents for airlines and hotels.

Think back to family trips of your youth: There’s a decent chance a travel agent was involved at some point, especially if you were embarking on a cruise or to an international destination. Your travel agent likely handled flights, potential upgrades, and packaged amenities.

This obviously changed with online travel sites. Not only could tourists conduct their own research, but also book their own trips, with little effort involved.

Still, agents remained relevant for specialty trips—such as group travel and luxury vacations—and securing exclusive deals. The original ‘travel agent’ moniker is still often used today, even after the ASTA officially made its switch.

Travel Advisors

Despite the familiarity of ‘travel agent,’ you should understand why the new name was adopted.

‘Travel advisor’ re-emphasizes the growing importance of the profession to the industry: They provide human connection in a world where everything is increasingly automated and online. They represent new and improved versions of travel agents. They don't just work to book flights, as their predecessors once did; they advise clients on aspects of their trip they may not be so familiar with, such as popular tours and other activities, exclusive culinary or cultural experiences, local languages and etiquette, and even lend personal touches by learning more about you than simply where you want to go.

Travel advisors continue their education, earn certifications, attend webinars, and conduct a significant amount of research to remain up to date on destinations, amenities, special deals, and other offerings to help plan and achieve the ultimate travel experience.

Travel advisors are also specialists with deep knowledge and extensive experience in niches such as cruises, escorted land tours, bachelorette parties, and multigenerational family vacations, just to name a few.

The bottom line: Advisors are so much more than call centers that take credit card numbers and book flights.

With so many variables at play when it comes to traveling, it’s best to rely on the real professionals. When you have questions, your advisor will have the answers to help build your dream vacations.

Work With InteleTravel to Plan an Unforgettable Vacation

While working with an advisor will always improve your vacation, finding the right advisor can make all the difference.

InteleTravel Advisors specialize in a wide variety of preferred travel styles and destinations, and tailor their services to achieve exactly what you’re looking for.

Our advisors work with you to familiarize themselves with your expectations and requirements, conduct research on your preferred destinations, arrange a custom itinerary, book the various parts of your trip, and leverage industry connections to secure deals and upgrades to enhance your experience.

They also provide support before, during, and after your travels to ensure your trip is seamless, hassle-free, and truly memorable from start to finish.

The best part: While some advisors charge a fee, InteleTravel Advisors never charge travelers for their services, instead passing the cost along to our supplier partners—so you get access to an experienced and dedicated travel professional, at no additional cost!

So what are you waiting for? Contact InteleTravel today to get started!

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