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The Rise of High Street Travel Agencies.After years of dwindling storefronts and rapid digitalization, high-street travel agents are experiencing a renaissance. With major agencies like Hays Travel and Flight Centre opening new branches, the UK is leading a revival challenging the notion that brick-and-mortar travel agents are relics of a bygone era.

The Information Overload and Expertise Advantage

In an age saturated with information, travellers are increasingly seeking expert guidance to cut through the noise. Eugene Ko, marketing director at Phocuswright, says, “Booking travel has become increasingly complex… although most people enjoy an element of research and choice when booking travel, using a travel agent can eliminate the need for extensive online trawling.” Their expertise streamlines the process and alleviates the decision fatigue many customers face.

Advanced Technology Bolstering High Street Agents

Today’s travel agents are equipped with advanced retailing technology, enabling them to offer highly personalized deals, often exclusive to physical storefronts. Gareth Matthews, Chief Marketing Officer at Didatravel, remarks, “Gone are the days when travel agents booked flights and hotels via a green screen. Distribution companies and intermediaries have evolved to offer more advanced retailing technology, giving agents the ability to find highly personalized deals for their customers.”

This technology allows agents to be more competitive, and combined with artificial intelligence and automation, agents have better information at their fingertips to deliver personalized services.

Exclusive Deals and Relationships

Travel agents have long-standing relationships with travel suppliers, giving them access to exclusive deals and perks not available online. Evren Oktay, Founder & COO of pax2night, a bedbank under Yuppi Travel, notes, “They have established relationships with travel suppliers and can negotiate better prices or perks for their clients. Suppliers should take note that while direct bookings may yield higher profit per booking, agents have the reach and relationships to drive higher overall sales.”

Enhanced In-Destination Experiences

High street travel agents have also improved their ability to bundle travel experiences and extras, offering seamless cross-selling opportunities. Craig Everett, Founder and CEO of Holibob, points out that agents have started including in-destination activities like tours, theme park tickets, and other experiences to boost the overall customer experience.

“But not only do you need to offer this,” Everett says, “you need to have an intuitive and integrated booking flow that agents can easily use along with automated post-sale technology.”

Trust and Reliability

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many travellers were stranded or unable to receive refunds from direct bookings and online travel agencies. Sami Doyle from TMU Management, an insurance intermediary specializing in travel, explains that the pandemic highlighted the need for travel insurance and robust packaging protections.

“By contrast, the trust factor with high street retailers or anyone where you’re dealing with an individual, even if remotely, is so much higher,” says Doyle. Agents provide a personal touch, offering customers a reliable point of contact when issues arise.

Improved Back-End Operations

Better payment technology and back-office services have also levelled the playing field for smaller agencies. Koert Grasveld from Terrapay mentions that “virtual credit cards and other technologies that were once available only to the biggest players are now available to even independent agents.” This ensures they remain price-competitive while efficiently settling payments.

Global Demand for Personalized Travel

While the UK is seeing a marked resurgence in travel agents, other markets like Latin America never lost their demand for personalized travel services. Juan Socas from PriceTravel, a prominent B2B and B2C travel provider in the region, notes that “up to 75% of travel [is still] sold face-to-face or by telephone.” He emphasizes the significant demand for international travel to the U.S. and Europe, and high street agents offer the reassurance travellers seek.

Blurring the Line Between Online and Offline

High street agents are also blurring the line between online and offline services. Janis Dzenis from WayAway points out that hybrid models are increasingly common, where travellers can research online and visit a physical store for further consultation or booking.

“It doesn’t have to be all about the big three OTAs or the high street retailer,” says Dzenis. “There is something in-between, and there are lots of online sellers set up specifically for certain niches and focusing on a particular demographic or geography.”


The revival of high-street travel agents is not just a passing trend. With improved technology, exclusive deals, and enhanced trust, they provide travellers with expert guidance, reliability, and seamless travel experiences that online-only platforms struggle to match. By blending the strengths of the digital world with the personal touch of physical storefronts, high-street travel agents are poised to thrive in this new era of travel planning.




Written by: Michelle Warner