Recently ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents changed their name to the American Society of Travel Advisors. In the press release, they state:
Travel agents are not just booking agents anymore. They have become trusted Advisors — akin to financial agents and CPAs — who make the overall travel experience better and provide leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar. What’s more exciting is that consumer media and, more important, the traveling public are embracing this shift from agent to an advisor.
The above quote acknowledges our the traditional travel agency role. We still perform the same agent services. For example: I never take payment directly – I act as agent to ensure my customer’s payment goes directly to the travel supplier (like AmaWaterways, Tauck, Globus or Royal Caribbean).
The advantage of an agent is that the client doesn’t have to know all the details of the transaction. Because of expertise and experience, I can for example tell you exactly the terms of the travel contract you are signing up for as well as the pros and cons of different insurance options.
Clearly we provide advice. The advice might be about:
- The best cruise ship to take
- The best cabin category
- The most appropriate insurance
- Different airfare options
- How to save money while traveling
- The best way to see Rome
- The best way to see as much of Ireland as possible
- How to travel with grandchildren
The quote from the ASTA press release above makes me think of another term – “Fiduciary”. According to Investopedia
A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person, or persons to manage assets. Essentially, a fiduciary is a person or organization that owes to another the duties of good faith and trust. The highest legal duty of one party to another, it also involves being bound ethically to act in the other’s best interests.
So while this relates to asset management and has some legal implications, the basis is about trust. It’s about me doing what’s best for the client independent of financial incentives.
So does it matter?
Does it matter if you call me a Travel Agent or a Travel Advisor? No. What matters is that you use someone you can trust that works on your best interests. While we don’t have an explicit fiduciary responsibility, that’s how I feel and act. So you can call me a Travel Fiduciary if you want. Travel agent, Travel advisor, travel fiduciary….it doesn’t matter to me what you call me.
Interested in learning more?
- More about travel agents
- Destination trends and ideas
- More about travel suppliers
- Financial matters and travel
- More about my personal travel experiences