Business takes off for Travel Travel of Detroit Lakes (again)
There once was a time when many thought travel agents needed to book themselves a one-way ticket to another career field.
Internet sites like Hotwire, Expedia and Travelocity had soared in popularity amongst travelers looking to save a buck.
Now, that trend could be yesterday's news, as a demand for travel agents seems to be taking off again.
"Just over the past six months, sales in our retail division have increased by 25 to 28 percent," said Cheryl Chivers, manager of Travel Travel of Detroit Lakes.
Chivers credits their long-awaited up-tick to unrest in certain parts of the world and an overwhelming amount of information on the internet.
"It's just too much," said Chivers, "Nobody knows what or who to trust anymore."
"There's so many options and not all of them are good," said Travel Consultant for Travel Travel, Traci Mace, adding that people make mistakes all the time doing their own booking, sometimes resulting in lost money or inadequate services.
The women of Travel Travel say another reason for increased business is an increased popularity in destination weddings.
"So many more people now are choosing this route because it's fun; the resorts do pretty much everything, and it's usually cheaper than a regular wedding," said Chivers.
Busy lifestyles also play a role in the renewed interest, says Chivers, as people who want the best buy don't always have the time to find it.
"It takes a lot of research, so if somebody knows they want to go somewhere in particular, they'll tell us and we'll watch for them until a good deal comes along," said Chivers, adding their motto: "We do the work, you do the fun."
And with so many added expenses being discreetly added to some website's "deals," Chivers and Mace say they think people are now realizing their fees can often pale in comparison.
At Travel Travel of Detroit Lakes to book an airline ticket for a customer, it's $25 a person.
For a hotel-flight package or an Amtrak ticket, it's $15 a person.
"And that's hardly anything when you know that you can count on getting there and having the hotel, car and flight all booked right and the latest information and updates available to you from start to finish," said Chivers.
In fact, Chivers credits their personal service and customers' increased desire for convenience as another reason for their increased sales.
"If something goes wrong, nobody likes talking to an automated system," said Mace, as she talked about travelers who have learned their lesson the hard way while flying solo on vacation.
"We let them know if there's a cancellation or we can rebook a flight for them right while they're standing in line at the airport," said Mace, "and people are really starting to see that our small fees are worth all that."
Adding to the renewed strength of Travel Travel of Detroit Lakes is their unique wholesale division -- Magnum Belize Tours.
It's a whole section of the office that solely works with other travel agents (as well as the general public) who call on them to book trips to Belize -- a country that has become an incredibly popular destination for travelers.
"And that means increased business for us because more people are contacting other travel agents throughout the country, who then call us," said Chivers.
All this is a huge light at the end of a dark tunnel, as both women say they've seen so many travel agents go out of business over the years because of the Internet.
"But our clients, both commercial and leisure, supported us, and that's what's kept us in business," said Chivers, "We knew we had a great service, and so we knew we'd make it -- we just had to get through the tough times, and we did."