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Will the Advent of Online Intermediaries Diminish the Need for Travel Agents Totally in the Near Future?

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Will The Advent of Online Intermediaries Diminish the Need for Travel Agents Totally in the Near Future?

Erin Toh
Temasek Polytechnic

Abstract
This paper will focus on the comparison between Retail Travel Agencies (TA) and Online Travel Agents/Intermediaries (OTA); and how the rise of technology has affected the business model and operations of traditional agents. Traditional TA in this paper refers loosely to those with a brick and mortar store, selling travel related services with human touch; while OTA are also selling travel related services, but without a brick and mortar store and solely relies on internet as a selling medium (Bottomley, 1997). The paper will start with an overview of the booming travel industry, followed by the main challenges facing the travel industry, namely labour crunch and human touch, discussed in the context of TA and OTA. An analysis of current consumers behaviour factors as identified by Zhou, Dai, and Zhang (2007), affecting purchase decisions will also be discussed. In addition, traditional TA roles have evolved throughout the years to offer differentiated services in order to keep within the competition. The distribution of travel products has undergone changes and in order to remain competitive, TA must take a page out of OTAs, adapt to technology and online platforms in order not to be rendered obsolete.

Keywords: Travel Agents, Technology, Internet, Online Intermediaries, Online agents

Will The Advent of Online Intermediaries Diminish the Need for Travel Agents Totally in the Near Future?
The travel and tourism industry is a million dollar trade. Many countries in the world have seen the value in promoting Travel and Tourism, pushing it to be one of the strongest sectors in the world. In 2013 the Travel and Tourism industry direct GDP (Gross Domestic Product) stands at $US2.1 trillion; representing almost...

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