Educating the Public on What Agents Do

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Not long after entering the travel industry, Bonnie Lee, owner of Travel Quest of Monticello, Minn., said she became frustrated with how little the public knows about what a travel agent does and how the industry works.

"If people were educated, the travel agent wouldn't look like the enemy," Lee said. To that end, she signed on with a local adult education program last year to teach a class on the travel business, covering such topics as advance ticketing, fire sales, charters, car rentals, senior citizen fares and electronic ticketing.

"My goal is to educate the whole world on how this business works, starting in Monticello," Lee said, noting that she is not paid to teach. "I look at it as a community service. It builds good will."

Lee now conducts the class three times a year in four communities and attracts 15 to 20 participants per class. Lee, who operates Travel Quest from her home, said she has picked up four or five clients from among her students, "but I do it more for name recognition."

What question do students ask most frequently? Lee said, "They always want to know why one agency will quote one fare and another agency will quote another to the same destination. I have to explain that fares change so quickly, but if you called all the agencies at the same time on the same day, you would probably get the same fare."

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