In the age of online booking sites, using a travel agent may feel like going the way of the dinosaur. The truth is, however, that agents are more useful than simply selling trips to Disney World and cruises. Many agents still provide services or have knowledge that you just can’t get online – and sometimes, especially in times of crisis, working with a real live person is just plain superior.
Here are 10 reasons why they’re still useful:
They Are Educated and Have Personal Experience
Simply put, they know more than you. They can give you insider tips and advice, using their education and personal experience to guide your vacation decisions in a way that provides you with the best vacation possible for you and your hard-earned investment. They have access to personal feedback from hundreds of clients, and their own personal travel agent network, to provide insights you can’t get on your favorite travel or social media sites.
They Have Clout
Many travel agents develop personal relationships with individuals at the companies they sell. They leverage these relationships to get you things you can’t get on your own. They can get you that “sold out” room or the connecting rooms you want for your extended family trip when the online sites saythey aren’t available. They also have exclusive entrée to experiences you might not know are available to you.
In addition to getting you more on any particular trip, they can step in and fix things when your trip goes awry. The average consumer books one or two trips per year, typically with different travel suppliers, so they have little or no leverage when things go wrong. The travel agent is constantly selling a particular supplier and has the leverage to fix things, even when the supplier isn’t directly at fault. Travel suppliers value the travel agent’s business much more than any individual traveler, so they will step up to make things right or simply to make sure that travelers, and their travel agents, are happy.
The best travel agents have unique access to benefits that can save you a lot of money and provide you with a better experience. Agents can get you many things that you can’t, such as free room upgrades, spa credits, and food and beverage credits, to name just a few. Add in hard-to-get restaurant reservations, exclusive or priority access to attractions, and added amenities, and you will have a lot more value for your travel dollar.
Instead of searching blindly on the internet for hours, days, or even weeks – depending on the complexity of the travel plans – you can have an expert do the research for you, with your personal needs in mind. They do it for every component of the trip, and very often do it at no cost to you.
If anything should go wrong during your trip, you can rely on them to assist you. A travel agent will suggest and arrange alternate travel arrangements, help you deal with any travel emergency you may have, and put you in touch with the right local people to answeryour needs.
On the Cutting Edge
They are on the cutting edge of what’s new. Travel agents are the first to know about a new resort, cruise ship or tour. They have relationships with their best travel partners who keep them informed about the latest and greatest offerings they have. So if you want to travel on the latest and greatest, agents are the way to go.
You Pay the Same Anyway!
More than 98 percent of hotels are parity priced. That means the cost is the same whether you book it yourself or havethe travel agent do the work. Some travel agents even have websites that feature the same inventory, bookable in real time, as Expedia and Orbitz. The customer gets the best of the hi-tech world in a high touch environment. This parity pricing applies to virtually every travel product.
You Get Matched Right
If you call a cruise line directly, they won’t tell you that their competitor is a better fit for you and your travel needs. Since travel agents sell everything, they focus on your particular needs, making sure you are matched up with the right travel suppliers.
An Ongoing Mutually Beneficial Relationship
A good agent is like a good mechanic. Once you find them, you’ll never want to give them up. Travel could be your biggest discretionary spend in any given year, along with your limited time, so you want to make sure it’s done right. When they make that happen, you’ll want them in your inner circle moving forward.