Not a Good Summer for Travel Agents
"It's definitely hurt," said Arlene Heine-Meyer, owner of World Wide Travel in Pekin, Illinois. "As a whole, it's hurt everybody." Heine-Meyer said she noticed a decrease in leisure travel this year as gas and food prices reached record highs.
"People just aren't traveling as much, period," she said.
Travel agencies also say airlines charging for luggage, new surcharges and even more for tickets isn't helping.
"What's irritating people more than anything is the airlines are charging for luggage," she said.
Compounding the problem is the fact August is traditionally a slow month for agents because school is back in session, summer is winding down and people aren't yet ready to book winter trips.
"I know we've slowed down somewhat," said Pat Anderson, agent with Suzi Davis Travel in Morton, Illinois. "I'm sure the economy has a lot to do with it." Anderson said retirees still travel, but the trips some are taking are "just not as elaborate as they used to be." A surprise for some agents is the increase in rail trips they've booked for clients. Sarah Williamson, owner of World Class Travel in Chillicothe, Illinois, said rail-based trips have increased and keep her business steady.