Are travel websites making travel agents obsolete?

The digital revolution has imperiled the future of many job categories, including darkroom film processor, typewriter repairman and telephone operator.

With the surge of sophisticated travel websites, can we include travel agents to the list of nearly obsolete jobs?

As you might expect, the American Society of Travel Agents doesn’t think so. The trade group that represents more than 5,900 travel agents and travel firms rejects the notion that travel websites will eventually put warm-hearted agents out of work.

The trade group was again defending its profession last week after the job search website CareerCast listed travel agents among “useless jobs” that are becoming obsolete. The list also included data entry clerks, sign spinners and shoe repairers.

Paul Ruden, senior vice president of the trade group, called the CareerCast list insulting and inaccurate.


Although travel agents in bricks-and-mortar offices handle only about 25% to 30% of air travel bookings, he said, most agents focus primarily on booking complex trips such as corporate travel or cruises and tours.

“Travel agents are alive and well and they do a robust business by providing expertise and advice to millions of travelers every year, using a combination of new and old technologies,” Ruden said in a letter to CareerCast.


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