Travel agents are a relic of the past -- and hotels could be next

Did you book your last trip through a travel agent?

Unless you work for a big company, probably not. The travel industry was one of the earliest to be disrupted by the digital revolution. This chart comes from the McKinsey report, “Digital America: A Tale of the Have and Have-Mores,” and shows how the number of travel agents in the U.S. is less than half what it was 15 years ago. Meanwhile, the amount of revenue hotels get from online booking has gone up about 7x over the same period.

As McKinsey writes, the hotel industry itself could be the next to be disrupted in this way: “Value is shifting from physical intermediaries and asset holders (including not only travel agents but also hotel owners themselves) to digital intermediaries and consumers….By bringing together travellers with individual property owners who want to list their spare rooms or rental properties, platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey, and HomeAway monetise assets that might otherwise sit empty.”

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