By: Lisa Coleman
There was time (not so long ago) when you still needed a paper ticket to fly and there was no such thing as airport security. Back then, using an agent was THE only option when considering international travel. But technology and online booking engines stepped in and suddenly everyone spent hours surfing the web and travel became somewhat of a do-it-yourself business. Now I enjoy looking at hotels and destinations just as much as the next person, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of a trip, especially an international trip, the travel agent is still the way to go.
I attended the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents – the world’s largest association of travel professionals www.asta.org) annual Fiesta in the Desert show last weekend. It was great to see over 150 agents in one room still thriving and going strong. According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) there are 9,386 travel agency firms operating 15,671 retail locations across the United States. (Not to mention a stout number of very successful agents operating from their homes.)Today’s agent is a completely different breed from those our parents used. Today’s agent simply has to be knowledgeable and savvy to succeed.
Mexico has always been one step ahead of the game in terms of building travel agent relationships. Perhaps it’s the country’s traditional nature, but Mexico has a very long history of partnering with travel agents, and has always taken tremendous steps to keep those agents educated and motivated to sell south of the border.
Leading the way for travel agent education is the extremely popular and successful Magic of Mexico program. Run by Greg and Jane Custer of Destination Ventures in Bend, Oregon, this educational series was launched in 1991 and caught the eye of Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism in 1992. Since then, the Magic of Mexico seminars have become the standard in the industry for learning about Mexico. They have kept pace and evolved the program into a comprehensive online sensation with accredited courses, interactive “campuses” and webinars to ensure travel agents have the most complete Mexico education possible. (www.destinationventures.com and www.magicofmexico.com). Thousands of agents have successfully completed the Magic of Mexico courses so there is a good chance you can find one in your neck of the woods.
So next time you Google “vacation in Mexico” and 1.7 million results pop up, ask yourself if it’s worth the time to book the trip yourself. Chances are pretty good it’s not. After all, saving money isn’t just about price, it’s about value. What’s your time really worth? What’s peace of mind worth if something goes wrong with the flight, the hotel or the tour? Think about it, and after you’ve burned hours surfing that trip, maybe take another look at your local travel agent.
Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.