As Thomas Cook disappeared from our high streets I thought about the travel agent’s role and wondered if it will exist for much longer. This got me thinking … is this a job I should have taken up as a teenager? I could see myself sitting behind a desk with a PC and a stack of brochures, getting paid to inspire customers with ideas for their dream holiday. I would explore with each person what makes them tick, what type of holiday they want, what their interests are and try to fit the people to their ideal destination. Instead travel advice has become something I do freely and perhaps too enthusiastically. I am always chipping in to help [or overwhelm] friends, colleagues and strangers in the planning of their trips.
A typical example is a friend who was taking her first trip to the West Coast of Scotland and asked if I had any places I would recommend. Quite sometime later she left with a long list of what I considered were just a start on my top tips of places to visit in this beautiful part of the world, from the grandeur of Glencoe to the stunning Torridon. When it comes to travel I can never be accused of being unenthusiastic!
Another friend was beginning to plan a trip to Slovenia and asked if I had any recommendations. Never short of ideas, I emailed her a list from my own experience in that gorgeous country and last year I was able to help a fellow travel writer with suggestions for places to camp on a a trip across Germany from the Czech Republic.
In this last month I was asked for ideas for campsites in the Lake District. I had to make myself stop after I had listed ten recommendations, each with a link to the website, a review of each site including its pros and cons and what they can do from the site. At our tai chi class recently I was recommending at length some nearby gardens for snowdrops to a fellow class mate. My enthusiasm knows few bounds and I don’t always spot the signs that I am overwhelming people!
I can’t help putting my two penn’orth in on social media too and this is a fantastic place for the frustrated travel agent. I spot a question about somewhere I have visited and I pile in with ideas and tips for campsites and special places to visit. People ask so many questions about places that are new to them on the various motorhome and campervan groups and lots of fellow travellers will willingly and enthusiastically pipe up with their own recommendations. I don’t need to yearn to be employed as a travel agent these days, I can just spend my days [when I am not travelling] cruising social media looking for people that are longing for my input!
It isn’t all one-way traffic, I am a taker as well as a giver and I am inspired by other people’s trips. I note down new places to visit, ideas for walks and campsites and countries to explore that I find on social media. I also avidly read other travel writers who generously share their favourite places and secret corners to visit via blogs, MMM and Campervan magazines and books.
It is too late for me to be a real travel agent but I can keep sharing my love for travelling with others so that they can also enjoy amazing trips and on the high street Hays Travel seem to be making a success of taking over Thomas Cook, so the travel agent certainly isn’t gone yet!