Millennials are Driving the Comeback of Travel Agents

When my wife and I launched our travel agency, ActiveTravels, close family and friends scoffed at the idea—as if I just announced that I was becoming a blacksmith. After all, wasn’t it President Obama who suggested in a town hall meeting that travel agents were becoming obsolete? How could they possibly prosper against big-pocket online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, and Orbitz? There was just no need for them anymore, or was there? Since we opened in May 2012, without benefit of advertising dollars or a marketing department, there has been a steady stream of traffic. 

This past week, it was reported that in 2014, 18 percent of American travelers used traditional travel agents compared to 12 percent in 2013. That’s a big jump. And surprisingly, much of that increase is coming from the Millennial generation, not Baby Boomers. Indeed, 28 percent of Millennials used a travel agent last year. The main reason Millennials are using travel agents is that they are more adventurous travelers. They want to go to off-the-beaten track destinations and they want trusted local guides to help them feel safe and secure once they get there. This is music to my ears, especially as we continue to grow a network of reputable contacts around the globe, from Indonesia to Ethiopia to India to Argentina. All you need is the desire to travel overseas and we’ll arrange the rest with local guides around the world. If you need more reasons to persuade you to hire a travel agent, check out my story for Boston University School of Hospitality