Evolution of the Travel Agent

Years ago, when you wanted to go on vacation, there was only one option. You had to hoof it down to your local travel agency and browse through some travel brochures. Then, when you made your selection, you’d sit across the desk from your travel agent (in a very uncomfortable chair) while they entered all the information on their green monochrome computer screen. Travel agents were the keepers of all travel information. Their life was the stuff of dreams. We imagined they had been everywhere and knew everything about world travel. They were the rock stars of the retail world.

Then, a few things happened. First, the airlines decided they didn’t need travel agents anymore and they pulled the plug on agent commissions. This didn’t work out so well for the airlines as evidenced by the number of them who went under in the aftermath. Many agencies refused to sell airline tickets without receiving a commission. Why should they work for free? So, things began to change from what had once been a very structured agency model governed by the ARC (Airlines Reporting Commission) into an industry that was evolving into something new.

Then, the second thing happened. The advent of the internet connection changed the face of travel forever. Information is readily available 24 hours a day about any aspect of travel you can imagine – from luxury yacht trips in the South Pacific to staying at a youth hostel in Europe. Whatever your budget or interest, the internet can open up a whole new world of options available to you for travel.

However, with the plethora of information now available to consumers, is there still a need for the travel agent? Can’t consumers just figure this all out on their own now? I suppose they could try. But, why would they want to? Travel agents offer the benefit of their expertise in dealing day in and day out with travel suppliers. They still hold the “secret knowledge” of the travel business, just in a different way now. Plus, the services of a travel agent are usually free to consumers, as agents are paid commissions by suppliers.

In all honesty, consumers need travel agents now more than ever before. In the past, there was so little information available to consumers that they were at the mercy of the travel agent to get any of it. Now, there is so much information available to consumers, they’re often left floundering in the sea of travel offers. Travel agents are skilled at cutting through the hype and emotion-driven marketing of suppliers. They have learned how to match travelers with vacations they will treasure.

In the wake of the home-based business revolution, many travel agents have moved their businesses to their homes. This is a good thing for consumers in that it allows for much more personalized service. Agents usually have extended hours when they’re home-based, making it more convenient to get in touch with them. And often, agents will come right to your home equipped with their laptop and brochures.

The smart travel agents have embraced technology and are using it to provide better service to their clients. Most travel suppliers are riding the technology wave too and are providing wonderful online resources available only to travel agents. The information age has educated not only the consumer, but has given travel agents powerful tools to provide superior customized service to their clients. With this type of customization, you can receive targeted travel promotions only for the destinations you’re interested in. This service alone can help cut down on information overload. You only receive information that’s of interest to you.

Another benefit of using an agent is that you have an advocate once you’re on your vacation. If anything goes wrong or things aren’t as they were promised, your agent will be your advocate to the travel supplier to try to get things corrected and made right. Just give your agent a call and let them try to sort the problem out. Don’t spend valuable vacation time in frustration. Suppliers know that if they don’t treat their clients right, agent won’t promote their products. Suppliers work hard to maintain a good rapport with the travel agent community. Word travels fast about suppliers who won’t take care of problems. However, if you don’t have an agent, you won’t have the benefit of any extra leverage your agent could provide in correcting a problem.

So, go ahead and spend some time on the internet gathering information for your next vacation. Peruse the vastness of cyberspace hunting for that perfect vacation. However, when it comes time to book your reservation, give your travel agent a call. They’ll be able to determine if what you’ve selected will meet your expectations. If they think it won’t, they’ll recommend something else you might like better. And most likely … they’ll be right and you’ll end up having a fantastic vacation!

Explore the Adventurous Side of You

Adventure. Do you actually remember the word? When was the last time you went out for some real adventures? Well, you might be having some wrong perceptions about ‘adventure’, considering your everyday life in this concrete jungle as one big adventure (in a way, you may call it an adventure). Well if that is the case, you need to think twice over it.

Let’s get back to the adventures that we define here and see the difference from the real adventures – that requires high adrenaline.

Climbing staircase (that too, once in a while, when your elevator is not working) doesn’t count as an adventure. Your computer mouse doesn’t come under wildlife. Standing under the shower is not same as standing under the waterfall. Wondering in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city is miles of freshness away from getting lost in the thick lush green jungle.

Mountaineering

Which floor do you live in? Well, you might enjoy the height that you live in but never ever compare that with the heavenly mountains – standing tall and proud. So just pump up your adrenaline, head for a real adventure, feel the nature, defy the law of gravity.

When you are heading for a mountaineering trip, follow the instructions of the guide properly to avoid any mishap. Wear comfortable and convenient clothes – for e.g. Cargo pants, multi-pocketed jackets, good hiking shoes. Carry all the basic accessories but make sure it’s not overweighed. But before starting off, get medically examined. Also ensure that at least one or two members of the team have experience of high altitude climbing.

Rock Climbing

It’s always fun to try something new in life. And what can be more exciting than climbing the steep rocky mountain. It might look quite scary, but then what is life without some challenges? Of course, you’ve seen Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible with all those actions. Well he had a mission. And here, your mission is to feel the thrill.

For such adventure, it’s definitely not a cakewalk. First you need to sign up for basics with an experienced instructor. Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury, so proper training and equipment before attempting this activity is seriously recommended.

Jungle Safari

No matter how colourful or fast your life gets in the city, you surely need to escape from it at least once in a year. It’s time to feel the nature. It’s time you realise that it’s not just humans that the world belongs to. Indeed, there’s nothing like exploring… making your vision broader.

However, few things are needed to know before taking the wild side. Learn about the place – the culture, the habitat, various types of species found and their behaviour. Make sure you are under an experienced guide. Never take chances with wildlife, even the cutest looking species might turn out to be dangerous.

Rafting

High speed, high energy, high life… just what rafting is all about. Racing with the current. Waters splashing all over you. Not a single word but the sound of water hitting the rocks. Isn’t it amazing when your mind is free for once and you feel nothing but yourself, accompanied by the force of nature. But before you head for this mind-boggling activity, enrol with an experienced group that organises rafting. Make sure that you don’t have any physical ailment. Don’t take chances if don’t know how to swim. And most importantly, the high-powered spirit is all it takes.

Destination Dubai

Dubai is one of the seven states making up the United Arab Emirates and it is located in the Middle East at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.

Dubai is a city of striking contrasts; it is an exciting destination both for travelers seeking thrills and adventure and for expatriates seeking a healthy employment climate and a tax free lifestyle.

Those expatriates planning on moving to the UAE or who are seeking the latest job opportunities in Dubai are certainly not alone. The population of Dubai is one of the fastest growing in the world and over the past twenty five years it has quadrupled.

Employment prospects in the city rise annually by an average of 8.3% and the increasing availability of quality jobs has attracted record numbers of expatriates to the region. The appeal of Dubai lies in the fact that it is a liberal and moderate emirate and it has attracted major players from every single significant business sector of note because of the tax free trade zones Dubai is famous for. These industry giants from the media, IT, engineering and financial sectors for example can recruit internationally and many offer their staff a tax free salary with attractive relocation benefits on top meaning they attract the best, most dynamic employees from around the world.

The expatriate population in the entire UAE makes up 91.5% of the working population so you can see how popular a destination Dubai is with international executives from around the world. To work in Dubai it is necessary to obtain an employment visa, if you secure a job offer before you fly out your employer will sponsor your visa for you. Alternatively you can travel to the country on a 30 day temporary visa, seek work and as soon as you secure a job offer you can apply for your employment visa.

In terms of those who holiday in Dubai they are divided into a number of categories – you have shopoholics who come for the tax free prices on luxury goods and jewellery, you have those who want an adventure in and around the ancient and fascinating heart of Dubai, you have families keen to hit the theme parks and adventure centres and those who come for the sporting highlights of Dubai such as the world class golf, polo, diving and desert safaris.

Visitors to the city of Dubai require a visa unless they herald from Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman or Saudi Arabia. Those visitors who are staying in one of the amazing and luxurious hotels Dubai is famous for will be provided with a visa by the hotel for the duration of their stay. The process to obtain a visa is very simple, in fact most travel agents or hotels will fill in the necessary paper work for you and you can either apply for a 14 day ‘transit visa’ or a 30 day ‘visit visa’ and then enter the country and be free to enjoy your time exploring this dynamic and breathtaking city of contrasts.

Rhiannon Williamson is a freelance writer whose articles about living and working abroad have appeared in many major lifestyle publications throughout the world.