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I heart my travel agent

I am going to step onto the Travel Soapbox this month. The rare gem of opportunity has appeared to prompt me to toot the horn for travel agencies from coast to coast.

Forrester Research has released a report that shows an increasing number of travelers are headed back to traditional travel agents! The report shows that travelers who would consider using a traditional offline agency increased 26 percent in 2009.

We have certainly seen this trend at Polk Majestic Travel. More and more corporate customers are returning from the Internet asking us to help manage their travel budgets to ensure all travel dollars are being spent the way the corporation wants them spent. Not only can we help them manage their budget, using an agency helps them get perks for the company from airlines, cars, and hotels, as well as supporting travel policy compliance and safety and security reporting. Of the 38 new corporate customers we have started doing business with this year, 24 have come from the Internet. I have no doubt this trend will continue.

This trend is very much apparent on the vacation side of travel as well. How on earth can you plan an extensive European vacation by yourself? Think you can get a better cruise deal on your own? Think you know the hottest Mexican resorts? My guess is we know more than you know and we can find you the very best vacation for the very best price.

While yes, this research bodes well for Polk Majestic Travel, it also supports the hard work and ingenuity of agencies across the country. The number of brick and mortar agencies has decreased by over 50 percent in the past ten years.

Speaking on behalf of the surviving agencies, I can tell you firsthand the agencies that are in business today are first rate. My partner, Andrea Shpall, and I are members of two travel agency owners groups that include a wide cross section of agencies from across the country. The members of these groups are among the best and brightest in the industry and we are lucky to share ideas and experiences with them. They know how to service customers to add value in every travel reservation and they know how to earn a profit to be able to stay in business in good and bad economies.

The days of being in the travel business for the travel benefits are gone. The agencies that are in business today are true professionals that run strong businesses.

The reason people are leaving online agencies and coming back to the strong, battle-tested traditional agencies is because we are just down right better. Traditional agencies have evolved and become stronger than the Internet agencies. We have always beaten the Internet on service and price and travelers are recognizing this in droves.

And I just happen to know of a traditional agency that is one of the very strongest of a very strong group. If you are a current customer, thanks for your business for all of these years. If you are not a current customer, I sure wish you were, because Polk Majestic Travel is really very good at what we do.

I will now quietly step off the Travel Soapbox. Thanks for listening.
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Robert Polk

Robert Polk is CEO of Polk Majestic Travel Group, Denver's largest independent travel agency. He welcomes your comments and questions at Robert@polkmajestic.com.

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