Is Using A Travel Agent The Best Way To Go?
When I was younger and I wanted to travel a lot, but the money was really tight, using a travel agent seemed to be a costly option. As I grew older, I realized that a travel agent knew where all the “hot spots” were, how to get there, and what to do once there. And then the internet came along, so who needed a travel agent? But, now, I'm back to using one for a lot of the same reasons as before; they know the hot spots and hot tours to take. Plus, they know spots to stay away from, and if changes need to be made, how best to handle them.
Let's look at some the perks of using an agent and some of the downside too.Should you use a travel agent? Some answer here! Click To Tweet
The Perks Of Using A Travel Agent
You'll Gain Added Value And Perks
Without a doubt, the number one reason to use a travel agent is getting access to their expertise and their connections in the industry. Your time is your most valuable asset and instead of spending countless hours of research, agents have already done that research. Travel agents generally work in large networks and they have relationships with suppliers that you don't have. Some travel agents can enhance your trips with perks and surprises.
As far as getting the best deals, travel agents often will beat those internet prices. Many agents have access to their own booking and distribution systems, which offer access to cruise packages, airline packages and hotel rooms, they can typically access to the same web promotions. While agents are earning commissions, there is consistent value back for their clients. Say they add a service charge of $100 for your trip; chances are you'll get more money back in amenities such as meals or spa and beverage credits.
You Won't Be Sweating The Small Stuff
This again comes to a time issue. A good travel agent can save you time by anticipating expenses and amenities to help avoid surprises. These expenses can be simple things like meal costs or the more hidden add-ons like resort fees and tourism fees that can put a huge drain on your budget. If you're planning an international trip to a far-away place, an agent can offer helpful guidance and point you to tour companies that best match your desires and budget.
Travel agents will have relationships with companies in just about every country in the world along with supplies that have been vetted in isolated places like Mongolia. For a far-off and expensive vacation, you probably only do once, it's a great idea to speak with an expert on when to visit, what to see, and most importantly what to skip! With an agent, you don't have to worry about logistics and the other details.
A Travel Agent Will Help Troubleshoot Common Travel Bumps
Because they have the ability to travel a lot, agents know what to look for. Airlines will often notify an agent first for delays due to weather, volcanos, and other natural or manmade disasters. And they'll have automated systems in place to easily rebook itineraries right away. An agent will put in the legwork of going through different insurance policies and point you to the plan that will best suit your needs and itinerary. If a flight gets canceled, it's much better to talk to someone you know who has the connections to rebook you eliminating extra time, effort and hassle.
The DownsidesWhat are the downsides of using a travel agent? Check them here! Click To Tweet
If Price Is Your Top Priority
I get it; you don't want to pay for someone's connections, time, and travel advice! If this is the case, using a travel agent may not be worth it to you. While in many instances a travel agent can help you secure the greatest values, you will need to pay for their consultation hours, efforts and knowledge. If they do handle the arrangements for you, more than likely, that money you pay them will come back to you in one form or another.
There are some cases when you're much better off booking your own trips because some agents will take a commission and a reservation fee. But, if you're planning a “once in a lifetime” trip, that's when you call the experts. On the other hand, if you're planning a trip to LA or NYC, it's easy enough to book it yourself using a discount booking site or directly online.
You Must Do Your Homework To Find A Reliable Agent
A good agent needs to devote ample time to understand your needs. One major downside of working with an agent is getting one who doesn't know what they're doing. If you're working with an agent who provides you with limited options to choose from, that is a red flag. Another sign of a lackluster agent is a slow response time; that's a sign that they're too busy of they're working as travel agents as a part-time job. If you work with someone who is inexperienced or has an incentive to book you with a certain supplier, they may not be putting your best interests on the highest priority.
When planning a major trip, one that I probably will never repeat, I'll turn to a travel agent to help me get the best deal I can. When traveling around “the states” I'll book most of those trips my self. The exception to this is if I'm planning a trip that includes tours, such as “The Rockies By Train” or an “Alaskan Cruise” that I feel an agent can really help.
The most important part of working with an agent is to find one who will listen to what you want and help you design your dream trip. The best way to find a good travel agent? Ask friends and family you trust. These should be people who travel themselves and who go on the type of trips you're looking for.
Do you have any questions about working with travel agents? Or comments? Let me know below!