Travel agents, who needs them anyways?!
We all know booking travel can be a challenge and finding the best deals can take a lot of time and effort. Every company offers different packages, rates, and perks, but how are we supposed to know if we are really getting the best value for our money?
We collected real questions and concerns from people who were unsure about booking with a travel agent. Taking your thoughts into consideration, we came up with 5 answers with regards to the pros and cons of travel agents vs booking online by yourself.
So, why consult a travel agent?
Let’s Talk About It…
1 Why do I need a travel agent when online companies give me great rates and package deals?
It can be hard to keep track of all the different discounts and rewards offered by different airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc. While it is possible to navigate it by yourself, it’s easy to overlook something or simply be unaware of another, better offer that you haven’t come across. Travel agencies know what they are doing. Agents are trained to know about all the best deals, and they constantly stay up to date about the latest and greatest offers out there.
Consulting a travel agent means you are getting access to deals and discounts you may not even be able to find online. Often, companies will have special agreements with travel agencies to give them better rates than the ones offered to regular customers. Going through each company by yourself means you could be missing out on much better deals and packages.
2 Why would I spend more money for a service I can do myself? I like doing my own research anyways.
We are all capable of wonderful things; we know how to cook and clean, do our own laundry and taxes, walk our dogs, and take out the garbage. So why would we want to hire someone to do something as simple as book our flights?
Let’s face it, we don’t have the time or the experience to do absolutely everything. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little help, and that’s where the quality service of a travel agent comes in. A good travel agent is passionate about travel, and wants to make sure you are getting the best value for your money.
Doing your own research is always a good idea so that you know what you’re looking for and what’s available. Exploring your destination online can be part of the fun. You start to imagine yourself there and get excited about all the things you can do and see. Who doesn’t love picturing themselves in a swim-up bar at a luxury resort in the Caribbean?
The question is, what happens when things start to go a bit sideways? What happens if your flights change, or you have doubts about safety, or if you have unanswered questions before you arrive? And most importantly, who is going to be there ensuring you get the experience you paid good money for?
When we book by ourselves, we are on our own. We have no backup to turn to when things go wrong. You can phone customer service, but do you really think the person working at the call centre on the other end of the line will go the extra mile for you, or personally invest themselves in your vacation experience? Do you think they will care that you spent the last 6 months planning your trip and spent your hard earned money on it? Most likely the answer will be no.
Travel agents have a lot of well-rounded experience, and they know the kind of service you need. It’s their job to be familiar with you and all the details of your trip from start to finish. Travel agents don’t just make reservations in your name, and then send you on your way. They are there to help you when things don’t go as planned. Having someone who cares gives you peace of mind when you are travelling. The comfort of knowing you are not on your own pays for itself when you choose a travel agent.
3 I know more than a travel agent about the destination I want to travel to
One of the many great things about the internet is that we can go online and get endless information about any destination in the world. We can learn so much about a destination that we may even feel like a local when we get there, knowing every interesting fact, every street name, where every local cafe is, and more.
The best travel agents are the ones who have traveled themselves, you should always ask an agent how much real life experience they have. They probably haven’t traveled the entire world, or visited every city, but having some real travel experience can be a big advantage no matter where you are going. Maybe your travel agent hasn’t been to the exact same destination you are going, but they know a thing or two about traveling. Their experience and years of planning trips and developing close relationships with suppliers and companies gives them a keen edge when booking your trip. They’ll be able to reach out to their own contacts in certain destinations and get you the most relevant information.
Did you know that travel agents can have access to sold-out hotel rooms? How is that possible, you may wonder? Because agencies often have a wide range of suppliers and partners that reserve a set number of rooms specifically for clients of that travel agency. The agency negotiates deals with their partners so that you don’t have to go from hotel to hotel looking for vacant rooms. All you have to do is take advantage of your travel agent’s connections and relationships.
4 Travel agents are trying to upgrade my travel to get more commission for themselves
This is definitely something to be aware of. After all, you don’t want to trust your vacation experience to just anybody. Some agencies will try to tell you that you need this and that in order to have the best experience possible. Others will even scare you into giving them more money by tricking you into buying extra insurance or packages that are a waste of money. That’s why you want a travel agent who cares rather than someone who will take advantage of you and your wallet.
You know when you go shopping for just a pair of jeans but someone convinces you to buy three? What about when you go to a restaurant with the intention of just ordering an appetizer, but you end up getting a full meal and desert because it looked so good on the menu? Do you think the store really believes you need the extra clothes or that piece of chocolate cake? Of course not, they just want to sell you more stuff!
Some companies will try to trick you into spending more money by giving you more options. But as we all know, the more options presented to us, the harder it is to make a decision. Travel agents help you to sort through all those options and extra add-ons to make your decision more clear. Of course you can go to a 5 star all-inclusive in Mexico, a guesthouse in Thailand, you could even rent a campsite and tent if you want to! They are all great options that suite different budgets and preferences, but what about all those little extras that you have to consider? How would you know if another hotel down the street is much better value for only 20 dollars more? Or that a different, cheaper all-inclusive comes with free tours? Wouldn’t you want to know if there was a ride share option that would cost you a tenth the price of a taxi?
We all deserve to know the options available to us, but we are often unaware they even exist, so we end up spending more money than we need to or missing out on a great opportunity just around the corner. If no one offers you other options or upgrades, you’ll never know what you might be missing out on.
5 Travel agents overcharge for the same service I can find on my own for cheaper.
Surprisingly, most travel agents DON’T charge for their wonderful service despite all the hard work they do ensuring their clients are well looked after. Instead, they make their money from commissions off of their suppliers, usually ranging anywhere from 5% to 18%. Most airlines actually don’t pay any commission at all!
Most of the time, travel agents will actually save you money. Why? Because they have experience. They can advise you of the best times to go, when to book, and what to do to save you time and money. But even if you did pay a little more than you would have (hopefully not too much!), it means you are paying for quality service, and a guarantee that you will have the best vacation possible. After all, if you are spending your hard earned money you want to be sure you’re spending it wisely, rather than risking your vacation just to save a few bucks.
Any good, reliable travel agent will work long hours to try to get ahead of their competitors when finding you the best deals and rates. Remember, travel agents are passionate about travel too! They wouldn’t be in this career if they weren’t. So, you can expect your agent to put the extra time and effort into giving you the best possible experience. They are the insiders of the travel industry and they are there to help you.
Get to know a local agent
As travel around the world becomes faster and more efficient, it also becomes more complex and harder to navigate. In today’s fast-paced world where things change by the second, travel agents are more important than ever to help you build a customized experience that is safe, memorable, unique, and trouble-free. Whenever you are thinking about booking your next trip, make sure you know of a travel agent who is experienced and knowledgeable who will help you make the best of your next great getaway. Remember that agents are there to help for whatever questions, concerns, or special requests you may have. Use them as your key to the ‘backstage’ of the travel industry so that even if you are going solo, you won’t be on your own. Happy traveling!
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