TRAVEL agents must constantly improve their skills and keep abreast of the latest development in tourism for their own survival or face the possibility of being shipped out of an increasingly competitive industry.
GEORGE TOWN: This was the advice of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun, who said that it was time travel agents shaped up as tourists were always looking for better holiday packages elsewhere.
He said many travel agents were already struggling to find their footing in the tourism industry.
"Let it be known that the good old days of customers making a beeline for travel agency outlets to book their flights and make hotel reservations in exotic places are over.
"Today, holidaymakers shun incompetent travel agents and are opting to make direct bookings on online travel portals from the comfort of their homes," Khalid said.
He said technology-savvy customers are by-passing the conventional agents to make their holiday bookings without even stepping out of their homes.
"People are getting more sophisticated and expect travel agents to be like consultants," Khalid said.
Among the frequently asked questions were about the food, languages, culture and weather conditions of a country they plan to visit, said Khalid
He was speaking to reporters after taking several Matta state chapter chairmen on a tour of Penang Hill recently. To remain competitive, Khalid said the travels agents needed to be up to speed on the latest development in tourism by investing on mobile gadgets such as iPads and tablets.
"Travel agents must go the extra mile for customers such as seeing that their individual needs is being fulfilled at all times," he said.
He said many Matta members' travel licenses were cancelled each month due to the lack of business and poor disciplinary records.
The association has about 2,800 members nationwide.
However, he said number of Matta members remained largely unchanged due to the absence of entry barrier.