For years we've been hearing stories about how the ease of online travel booking meant that there was no more need for travel agents. It was one of those classic case studies about how the internet would cut out the middleman. So, it looked like it might just be more of the same in this story from the Wisconsin State Journal talking about a 70-year-old travel agency that was closing after losing too much business to the internet. However, the article then gets much more interesting, as it contrasts the experience of the closing travel agency, to another local travel agency that has made adjustments to the internet age, allowing it to continue to thrive. The president of that travel agency explains how she reorganized the company into three different divisions focusing on specific areas where clients are much more likely to need the human touch in setting up travel plans. Then, of course, there's talking up the additional services that a human travel agent can provide. It might not hurt to point out some of the downsides to booking everything online yourself (such as the amount of time it takes to really find a good price). Of course, further contradicting the "cuts out the middleman" story, was the news earlier this year that both Expedia and Travelocity were looking to set up brick and mortar travel agencies themselves. Either way, the original article above shows why the conventional wisdom doesn't always apply -- and how smart businesses can figure out ways to adjust to a changing marketplace.
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