What Can Real Estate Agents Learn From Travel Agents?

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If we compare the travel industry to real estate sales, and how online services and real-world knowledge has affected the travel industry, will we learn a lesson applicable to real estate agents?

Being a travel agent was included by CareerCast as a “useless job” in their finding that the traditional travel agent is no longer necessary (1). Online booking systems and review sites of destinations have taken away the bulk of their work.

Yet they survive because their customer service is needed by customers seeking a trouble-free travel experience and they have a specific skillset that allows them to package the individual components of travel to offer travel packages to their customers.

Hiring is even on the upswing at travel agencies for agents that can bring repeat and referral business.

Real estate agents provide a valuable service that is often overlooked with the simple comment of “Look how fast that house sold,” without considering the amount of work that goes on before and during the transaction process.

The “territory” of real estate sales is being nibbled away by technology companies that are streamlining the process and tempting “For Sale By Owner” types to go it alone.

What can be seen as the straightforward process of putting a home for sale, similar to booking a ticket, is fraught with dangers that only become evident when the destination is reached and it’s time to sign the final paperwork and close the deal.

The true value of the real estate agent, and travel agent, is to provide a service that accomplishes what it asked of it.

Travel agents personalize the experience to build the trust and repeat business to maintain their livelihood. Real estate agents must do the same. It’s the personal experience in niche markets that will protect the real estate agent from demise.

When discussing the future of the travel industry Eric Clemons, professor of operations and information management at Wharton University, said “Non-value-adding intermediaries will fail.

Intermediaries that provide coaching or some additional service will succeed. But service will no longer be free.” (2)

The internet is great at providing access to information. But it lacks in offering the experience needed to make the right decisions and have every box checked that leads to a favourable outcome.

We can draw a straight line comparison with people making all of their own travel arrangements and people selling their own houses. The lack of experience in unknown areas can create a significant issue if something goes wrong.

Having a travel agent, and a real estate professional, available to “make things work” is what people expect when they hire a professional. Having no one to call for help when things go wrong is the worst-case scenario that happens all too often.

(1) http://www.careercast.com/career-news/useless-jobs
(2) http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/will-commission-cuts-kill-the-small-travel-agent/