COVID-19 Exposes Online Travel Booking Engines Numerous Weaknesses


As Coronavirus Impacts Travel, the Benefits of Booking With a Travel Agent Becomes Clear

RJ Travel Advisors has been inundated 24 hours a day for the last 45 days with international travelers coming home to the U.S. or going back to their foreign point of origin. Why did they call us? For over 35 years RJ Travel Advisors founder and president Marie Frasure has arranged travel and staged events for governments, international non-profits and U.S. based groups.

Before the popularity of the on-line engines travel agents were intermediary for travel no matter the product; hotels, airlines, resorts, and much more. Now the pendulum has swung back to the experienced travel agent professional.

In the case of RJ Travel Advisors, Marie Frasure and crew, assist travelers stranded in Africa, Italy, France, South Korea, and the Caribbean have been part of the workflow. Contacts made to embassies have become the norm. Conversations with congressional staff is now par for the course. These are attributes a booking engine employee has no clue, nor any incentive or time to go through a steep learning curve.


Social media outreach to OTAs and airlines has proven effective to an extent, but how many travelers really know to utilize Twitter and Facebook for those purposes? To use the word “mass hysteria” may be overkill, but for the travel industry in the state that it’s in today, it’s right on target.

That’s where we come in. Your experienced travel professional. The online travel agencies haven’t taken over the travel world. In fact, travel professionals are still here en masse. Contrary to popular belief, travel agencies have experienced significant growth in recent years.

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That is, until now. The steep decline in sales over the last couple of weeks is staggering and the cancellations are even worse. But here’s the thing. We have handled such events before. We are doing everything we can for our clients, regardless of our losses. That’s our job. That’s what we are here for. Arguably most importantly, we’re answering our phones and assisting in finding solutions.

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There is a common misconception out there that travel agents are just for the wealthy. It’s thought that our high fees can be avoided by taking advantage of OTAs and large market wholesalers such as Costco Travel that sell package vacations and cruises by the hundreds of thousands. The fact of the matter is that we generally don’t charge high added fees (if any at all) because all of that commission comes directly from our suppliers.AMIBC® - VOTE! BE COUNTED! BE HEARD!


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