Travel agents make a comeback due to flight booking challenges

Close up photo of male travel agent and young woman.  Young man giving tickets and passport with visa to female tourist

Travel agents have seen a boost in customers as a result of the recent challenges booking flights.
Photo: 123RF

A once key part of booking a holiday is now making a comeback – travel agents say they have seen a boost in customers as a result of challenges when booking flights.

This comes after a flurry of issues arose at the start of the year, with airlines canceling flights due to staffing shortages and operational difficulties.

With limited flight options, and in some cases increasing costs, some travelers are turning once again to travel agents.

House of Travel chief operating officer Brent Thomas said there had been a misconception that travel agents were a dying breed.

They had seen a lot of new customers coming in to use travel agents, so much so that they were looking for more staff to keep on top of customer numbers, he said.

Flight Center said they were on the same boat.

Its general manager for leisure Heidi Walker said they had seen large numbers of customers using their service.

Customers needed to come in knowing what they were after, she said.

“Make your decision, create your budget, and go into a travel expert ready to book so that you can go into that space of securing your holiday as soon as possible,” she said.

AUT Tourism Professor Simon Milne said previously, travel agents had to deal with serious shifts in consumer’s purchasing habits

He said that, in the past, there has been a large shift to the internet and direct booking through hotels and airlines.

“Those travel agents that had really just been clipping the tickets, as it were, were really struggling to survive,” Milne said.

The current surge in popularity was reflected in international trends, he said, although he did not believe that their popularity would continue into the future.

For now, holiday makers would have to think carefully about how they organize their overseas getaways, he said.