Patt Morrison for April 23, 2012

Are travel agents making a comeback?

Obama Eases Cuba Travel Restrictions

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Omar Garcia (L) and Giselle Bordin purchase tickets to Cuba from travel agent Marizela Somosa in the offices of Marazul Charters on April 13, 2009 in Miami, Florida.

Need to book a flight? Frustrated by all the online search engine options out there? The U.S. Travel Association kicks off its industry’s annual meeting at the LA Convention center today.

Their business may receive a bump in patronage this year in light of a recent report demonstrating the travel agent industry is showing signs of a comeback. One in three leisure agencies is hiring in order to keep up with demand, according to travel research firm PhoCusWright.

The news comes after years of industry decline attributed to competition from internet travel sites and a struggling economy. With the economy slowly improving, consumers are traveling more and may be increasingly relying on tech-savvy agents to navigate those time-consuming websites.

A survey conducted by the I.B.M. Institute for Business Value showed that half of more than 2,000 travelers said that searching and booking travel arrangements online required more than two hours while 20 percent said it took them more than five hours.

WEIGH IN:

How do you find flights? And do travel agents have an leg up when it comes to online searches?

Guest:

Terry McCabe, national director of Leisure, Altour, a travel management company


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