There is great need for travel agencies to come up with a sophisticated and advanced information technology for handling the increasing level of tourism traffic, and improving the quality of services offered. This is due to the rapid growth and development of the travel industry. Previous research has shown that modern travelers prefer to associate themselves with travel products and services that are of high quality.
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On a similar note, the development of new and advanced tourism products and the drastic increase in tourism activities has compelled several travel agencies to undertake a wide-scale adoption of information technology.
Specifically, most of these agencies have adopted the use of internet as a form of prompt electronic intermediary that can serve as a wide distribution and communication channel for both the suppliers and travelers. The internet allows travel agencies to enhance their level of performance and competitiveness.
Based on the aforementioned aspect, most of the researchers who conduct studies in areas such as tourism and travel have always emphasized the need to make appropriate use of the internet to promote both tourism and travel.
In the case of travel agencies that deal with tourist supplies, the internet offers significant contribution especially in facilitating capacity of agencies to market their products and services to potential travelers located in different parts of the world. These travel agencies can make use of remote portals to control their servers.
For instance, these servers can be able to display information that relate to the products and services offered by the company. In most cases, this information is displayed using an appropriate electronic speed so that potential travelers are provided with the most update and releavnt information at the right time (Jamal & Robinson, 2009).
From supplier’s perspective, travel agencies can gain significant boost from a website or internet in different ways. For example, a reduction in cost of distribution, increase in the level of revenues, and a larger share of the market are some of the major benefits.
Similarly, the internet can help travelers to gain access to direct communication with the agencies that provide them with various supplies. In addition, travelers are able to request for a given type of information and make purchases from any place irrespective of time and geographical limitations.
However, it is important to understand that the development of online travel websites has also affected the activities of some travel agencies in one way or another. This can be argued from the perspective that some travelers prefer to make direct booking from the internet and thus, they deprive the travel agencies in terms of income generated from reservations.
In order to overcome such challenges, some of these agencies have embarked on offering personalized advice and information to potential travelers quite frequently in an effort to retain their loyal customers and discourage them from using the internet to make reservations.
It is worth to mention that the role and duties of travel agencies can remain secure if the agencies have the ability to offer travelers with the necessary advice. This can be realized if the agencies are able to make effective use of the internet instead of merely operating as booking agencies (Pease, Rowe & Cooper, 2007).
While intensive research studies have focused on travel agencies, the views and opinions of travelers have largely been ignored. Most of the researchers do not put much focus on the challenges and opportunities encountered by the travel agencies.
In addition, previous researches on travel agencies have failed to identify whether the educational and training requirements for travel agents have really changed. In view of this scenario, this paper focuses on addressing the above issues by exploring various concepts such as economic multipliers, inflation, and economic cycles.
Challenges and opportunities being encountered
It is definite that travel agencies face numerous challenges. To start with, the current development witnessed in online travel has increased the level of business competition for travel agencies. This is due to the fact the most of the travelers have opted to rely more on the internet to make reservations than consulting the travel agencies.
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Travelers often opt to use the internet with the aim of cutting down the extra expenses which they incur after paying commission to travel agencies that help them to make reservations. The development of internet has also compelled several travelers to prefer purchasing directly from potential suppliers. This has consequently eliminated the need to involve the travel agencies (Jackson, Schuler & Werner, 2012).
Another challenge faced by travel agencies is the human resource. For most organizations, the inability of travel agencies to access the best skilled and trained manpower proves to be a major challenge in the travel industry bearing in mind that it is one of the largest employers in any given country.
Travel agencies can manage to realize sustained growth if there is availability of skilled workforce or manpower at different levels of the organization. However, it should be understood that even the management levels can also suffer shortage of employees since most of the people who possess the required managerial skills prefer to work with other corporate institutions such as banking, airline and retail (Jackson, Schuler & Werner, 2012).
Moreover, there are quite a number of travel agencies that lack sufficient budget to finance various activities such as marketing and promotion. The success of firms in the tourism and hospitality industry depends on the ability of these firms to engage in extensive advertisement and promotion as a way of increasing customers’ awareness especially on the products and services being offered by the agency.
While carrying out this strategy, travel agencies should also engage in other similar activities that enable them to change from the traditional method of marketing to more advanced, modern and competitive marketing strategies.
This will enable the firms to have a unique position in the market and at the same time convey an appropriate image to customers who may be interested in the products and services being offered (Lubbe, 2000).
Lack of adequate Security has also proved to be a major challenge experienced by travel agencies in the 21st century. Travel advisories that are usually given to travelers by their respective host countries are major impediments in the tourism industry. However, it is sometimes necessary because attacks from terrorists and lack of political destinations may be life-threatening.
This implies that there is dire need to beef up security in areas that are likely to be targeted by terrorists. Such places include hotels, airports and shopping malls. However, governments should be extremely careful when choosing the approach that can be used to deal with security issues.
It is vital for the government to adopt a proactive approach to ensure that security issues are addressed well in order to avert the loss suffered by travel agencies. While undertaking this process, the government should avoid spending a lot of monetary resources on such activities.
High spending is likely to increase the amount of money in circulation. This may lead to inflation. The level of government spending should be up to a point where it is able to achieve a long-term multiplier effect without interfering with other sectors in the economy (Jackson, Schuler & Werner, 2012).
Travel agencies also suffer challenges associated with cyber crime. The use of the internet to commit crimes in the tourism industry has continued to take an upward trend in recent years. Major frauds have been witnessed over the internet.
This has made most of the travel agencies to put much focus on online security. In addition, it is important for travel agencies to come up with appropriate measures that can increase the level of online security and transparency. This will help to restore people’s confidence on the tourism industry as a whole, and consequently increase the number of travelers.
According to Lubbe (2000), there are myriads of opportunities to travel agencies that arise from cruise tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism. The popularity of eco-tourism has continued to increase over the years As a matter of fact; there are quite a number of hotels that are friendly to the environment.
Travelers are becoming more aware and conscious of the various products offered in the tourism industry. This is a major growth factor in future bearing in mind that there is adequate flow of information across the board.
Currently, there are governments from various countries that are undertaking massive marketing and promotion measures. The latter are expected to boost the operations of travel agencies.
The emergence of the internet is yet another opportunity for growth since the travel agencies are finding it easy to transmit information within a very short time. Besides, the costs involved are quite minimal. This means that travelers are in a position to access relevant, comprehensive and timely information from different environments.
It is pertinent to note that the travel agencies have managed to achieve extensive diversification that comes from the plethora of various suppliers who are able to operate independently especially at a time when travelers expect to gain adequate market experience (Jackson, Schuler & Werner, 2012).
It should also be noted that the internet provides an appropriate means for establishing sustainable electronic infrastructure that enables travel agencies to gather information and transact business for travelers.
As such, travel agencies can easily understand the traveler’s needs and consequently enable them to target individual customer while delivering products or services that conform to the requirements of the customers or travelers. Needless to say, the travel agencies can gain proper understanding on how to transmit the required information and provide customers with direct services directly using advanced technology.
Changes in training and educational requirements for travel agents
Lubbe (2000) observes that the training and educational requirements for travel agents have changed significantly over the years. Currently, several travel agencies expect the agents to make occasional enrollment in the relevant education programs so that they can be able to cope with the current changes being witnessed in the travel industry.
The travel, custom regulations and travel advisories are also undergoing major changes thereby forcing many travel agents to look for training programs that can increase their travel knowledge. Although most of the travel agencies do not require certifications or licenses from their agents, quite a good number of them find it beneficial to attend workshops and engage in other education courses.
This helps them to remain updated on the changes and trends being witnessed in the travel industry. The need for travel agents to continue engaging in travel education programs is attributed to the fact that most of them prefer to recruit travel agents who possess the necessary travel experience and have interests in other fields such as geography.
Changes in the relationship between agents and customers
The relationship between agents and customers has undergone major changes. These changes are found within the global trend that seeks to increase the demand for travel products and services. It is vivid that the products and services offered by most travel agencies are not in a position to meet the future needs of customer.
As a result, travel agencies are finding it vital to develop new standards of products and services that are compatible with the needs of customers. The change in the relationships that exist between the agents and customers is also perceived as a way boosting the growth of the travel industry and ensure that it does not decline in the future.
However, it is vital to underscore that some travel agencies are experiencing a lot of challenges in introducing these changes because there are those who operate in other areas (such as restaurants and recreational parks) within the hospitality industry.
This reveals that the expertise diversity in the travel industry must be properly synthesized and coordinated in order to realize a proactive management. On the same note, the new service provision paradigms should be subjected to extensive training and education programs (Pease, Rowe & Cooper, 2007).
From the above discussion, it is evident that the development of technology has posed significant effects on the operations of travel agencies. These effects are both negative and positive in nature. In my view, I believe that it is important for travel agencies and their agents to be fully aware, and also have a positive mind of the operating environment that appears to be changing rapidly.
Despite the massive reduction of customers as a result of internet development, the travel agents should not take this as an obstacle. Instead, they should devise appropriate strategies that can enable them to take full advantage of the internet while recognizing the impact of advanced technology in the travel industry.
For example, it is likely that the smaller agencies will merge with large ones in an attempt to achieve the desired economies of scale. Most importantly, travel agencies should avoid treating the development of the internet as a potential threat. They should take internet as a new opportunity that helps them to add value to their products and services.
It is equally vital for these agencies to understand and recognize the role played by technology in the travel industry. There is need for travel agencies to increase their participation on the internet. Alternatively, travel agencies should try to create new applications and collaborate with other internet-based businesses in order to improve their service deliveries.
Jackson, S. E., Schuler, R. S. & Werner, S. (2012). Managing human resources. Mason, Ohio: South Western cengage learning.
Jamal, T., & Robinson, M. (2009). The SAGE handbook of tourism studies. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Lubbe, B. (2000). Tourism distribution: Managing the travel intermediary. Kenwyn: Juta.
Pease, W., Rowe, M. & Cooper, M. (2007). Information and communication technologies in support of the tourism industry. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Pub.