Travel agencies hit turbulence – Internet, recession force firms to reevaluate business plans
If any industry is facing a double-whammy right now, it would be the one hit by the recession and squeezed by Internet competition: the travel agency industry.
Yet travel agents across the tri-county area seem cautiously optimistic about their prospects for the future, even in the face of a sharp nationwide decline in leisure and luxury travel.
“We’re a long-term, established agency, but we have seen somewhat of a hit due to the economy,” said Patrick Croke, owner of Ventura Travel Services. “I think everyone connected to the travel industry is feeling that right now.”
On a broad scale, airlines, cruise liners and hotels are all slashing prices — an indication that they’re doing what they can to woo reluctant travelers into spending. According to a press release by the American Society of Travel Agents, only 39.1 percent of its member agencies made a profit in 2008, a decrease of 13.6 percent since 2007.
“In the next five years, those agencies that are financially sound will be fine,” said Croke. “But it is definitely a weeding-out process right now.”