Consumers’ use of the Internet combined with the airlines no longer paying commissions to travel agencies will continue to cause the travel agent profession to decline over the next decade, and be completely marginalized within the air travel industry.
This study reflects a situation that has been obvious for the past five years or so!
The oft proclaimed demise of travel agents is a recurring story, mostly supported by surveys about the online purchase of airline tickets. Of course, the internet has already lead to a reduction in the number of travel agents for obvious economic reasons. This, however, will not lead to the complete disappearance of travel agents for a long time. What it does mean is the end of "airline ticket order takers" which, unfortunately, a large number of travel agents became in the "good old days" of the ’90s when airlines still paid commissions for performing that task.
Most of those agents have already disappeared and the remaining ones are by and large well trained professionals who know how to add value to travel transactions by using their expertise to be true sellers of travel. Many of them thrive and prosper and increasingly use web based tools to their own advantage. Combined with their knowledge these new tools will keep them competitive, especially in the sales of what is often termed "complex travel" to multiple foreign destinations or specialized travel such as soft adventure or special interest vacations. It will be interesting to observe how this segment develops as new smart technologies will enable both travel agents and consumers to plan, design and book such trips in future online in a much easier fashion than is possible today.