By Kate O’BrienRead moreIt’s a Saturday morning in early April, and it’s time for the annual meeting of the Travel Association of Minnesota.
The conference takes place in a nondescript conference room on the second floor of the Twin Cities Convention Center, where about a dozen executives from the travel industry meet every other year.
The organization is led by travel agents and brokers, but the group also includes brokers who help travelers arrange travel for a variety of reasons.
They serve as a resource to help travelers plan trips for the holidays and other special occasions.
A typical trip for an American woman in her 20s might include a trip to Europe, a visit to a local restaurant, a shopping trip or even an overnight stay in a hotel.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for you to go and connect with a network of travel agents who are already helping travelers with travel, to get the right information and to be able to help you get the best value for your money,” said Sarah Noyes, the association’s executive director.
Travel agents are key players in a growing industry that, in turn, can provide a boost to a small but growing segment of the travel market.
They’re also essential to helping travel companies navigate complex foreign-exchange regulations.
While the industry has grown by a staggering 3,000 percent since 2007, it has yet to catch up to the demand for travel agents.
For example, a 2015 report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Travel Research found that travel agencies in the United States account for about 20 percent of all travel agents’ work.
That’s up from just 5 percent in 2010.
For some travel agents, the demand is not a challenge.
“We can do more than just offer services,” said Scott Cramer, president and CEO of Travel Partners International, which has offices in the Twin States.
“If you’re doing a business in the U.S., you have to be doing business in our country.”
For years, the travel and travel services industry has been the biggest consumer of foreign-trading revenue for foreign-based travel agents in the country, and the demand from this market has been so intense that the industry in turn has responded by expanding its reach.
“The U.K. is the most active market for travel-related businesses, and that’s a significant amount of revenue for the U