Alexandria, VA, May 27, 2016 – A recent article in The New York Times Travel section (“Where to Find Hotel Deals? Try a Hotel.”) neglected to mention the role travel agents play in ensuring consumers get the best value and price out of their travel experience, and implied that booking direct with a hotel is the most optimal way to arrange their travel plans.
Below is a response to the article submitted by Zane Kerby, ASTA’s President and CEO.
To the Editor:
A recent article in your Travel section (“Where to Find Hotel Deals? Try a Hotel.”) leaves out a critical piece of the puzzle in terms of how consumers navigate a travel marketplace that offers an overwhelming array of options – the nation’s 100,000 strong travel agents. Last year, travel agents booked about $33 billion worth of hotel rooms, or 24 percent of the market, while overall travel agent usage is creeping up to levels not seen in a decade or more – 23 percent in 2015, according to our most recent research.
When choosing a hotel, price is always an important consideration. So it’s important to emphasize that consumers using a travel agents generally have access to the same deals as direct bookers – as the article points out, virtually all of the major hotel chains provide “book direct” rates to those who book through “travel agents” or “corporate travel professionals.” But price does not always equal value. Travelers also rely on trusted agents for comparison shopping – visiting four, five or more hotel websites is inefficient and frustrating – as well as unbiased advice, expertise in various hotel properties and personal support throughout the itinerary. In short, using a travel agent is the best way to guide travelers through these decisions and help them get the best value and best experience out of their trips. Your readers can find a professional ASTA travel agent, sorted by location or specialty, through our consumer-facing website at TravelSense.org.
Perhaps a better title would have been “Where to Find Hotel Deals? Try a Travel Agent.”
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally based members, it is the leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public. ASTA’s history of travel industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information, visit ASTA.org.
ASTA’s sister association, The National Association of Career Travel Agents, represents a professional community of independent travel agents ready to assist the traveling public.