To hear President Obama tell it, traditional travel agents have died at the hands of the Internet.
His assessment, made earlier this month in Atkinson, Ill., set off a mini-firestorm in the agent industry, which responded to the effect: We're doing very well, Mr. President.
The truth, however, is somewhere in the middle. While thousands of traditional bricks-and-mortar agencies have gone out of business in the last decade because of do-it-yourself Internet booking and a bumpy economy, a significant portion of business trips continue to be arranged or overseen by traditional agents.
And a growing number of leisure travelers are saying they'd prefer to book travel the old-school way, too. A survey by Forrester Research earlier this year found 29% of leisure travelers saying that if they could find a good traditional agent to work with, they would. That's up from 23% in 2008, says Henry Harteveldt, former principal airline and travel analyst at Forrester.
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