On April 17th, 2006 the American Society of Travel Agents released a summary of a new Technology and Marketing Report which showed that the traditional travel professional spends an average of 17 hours per week on the Web searching on behalf of their clients. As part of my effort with the Fetch collaborative travel planning tool, I’ve done presentations and demos with many of the major travel consortium as well as leaders in the online travel world. Since the launch of the OTAs (Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz) the mainstream media has helped foster the idea that traditional travel agents are a dying breed. As a analyst and consultant over the last 11 years, I have been involved with a number projects for more traditional travel companies, helping them develop holistic technology strategies. As a result I believe the role the offline agent plays in complex travel planning is still essential. I wanted to use this opportunity to start some dialogue within the industry on this subject. So what do you think? Are the pundits who envision a completely automated travel process correct, or is there still value in the professional travel agent? Obviously I have some strong opinions on this subject and I would have to admit part of my view is driven by what I believe is a an opportunity for the Fetch travel tool to bridge the gap between the consumer and agent Web search. May ask you comments on the subject?