Advantage 2008: Travel Weekly survey reveals 60% of agents would leave the travel industry

Six out of 10 travel agents would consider an alternative career outside of travel, a Travel Weekly survey has found.

A State of the Nation survey, unveiled at the Advantage conference, polled the views of 300 leisure and business travel members just before XL Leisure Group’s collapse.

In total, 20% said they would definitely consider a new career outside travel; 41% said ‘yes, maybe’; and 39% said no. It was not clear which career they would choose instead; 26% said they didn’t know and 33% said it would be jobs not listed in the survey.

The survey also showed the economic climate was the factor deemed most important for the industry over the next five years, but it also showed high levels of optimism about the future.

Of those surveyed, 27% were directors/managers, 16% were managing directors/chief executives, 16% were branch managers, and 11% were owners, while 9% were counter staff.

Advantage sales and marketing director Colin O’Neill said views may be affected by the credit crunch. He said: “If people are optimistic about the industry, why would they leave? There is no clear move for people wanting to work in a bank, for example. It’s difficult to tease out.”

TWgroup publishing director Simon Ferguson, who presented the results, added: “There are more travel businesses up for sale than at any other time in the past five years, yet no capital for them to be bought. You may want an exit, but the likelihood is you’ll have to stick it out.”

He suggested a new breed of independent agents with good product knowledge, service and trust could be created by the downturn.

He said: “It may well be that this downturn leads to the 21st century model for agents who offer true value. Maybe this downturn will lead to suppliers becoming more reliant on intermediaries that add value.”

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