In my experience, a large barrier to most people considering hiring a travel agent is the perceived cost of using one. While each agent is different, charges are often quite low and the cost is usually offset by the savings that an agent can get you. While it’s true that you can find some good deals online, travel agents have access to hotels and resorts directly, and they get faxed and emailed deals that haven’t been put online yet. They have inside connections that can save you hundreds.
Also, don’t think that because you’re buying something online you’re not still paying for travel agent commission. These costs are built into the price of a hotel room or airline fare, and if you buy a ticket online, the company simply pockets the fee they would normally pay the agent.
One of the best times to hire a travel agent is if you’re planning a trip for a large group of people. With a complex set of needs and destinations, group trips are unwieldy and bring out the worst in everyone. An experienced agent can navigate the complicated process of planning a trip for many people, ensure the trip is smooth and efficient, and save you the headache of juggling everyone’s schedules.
Plus, when you talk to a travel agent, they’re going to understand your goals and budget and design a plan that fits you, without you having to spend hours searching through heaps of contradictory information.
Have a Teammate
An agent is with you for the whole process of your trip, and you have real peace of mind knowing that there is an actual human who knows you and your needs on your side at all times.
The agent is invested in your trip being as smooth as possible, and if something goes wrong they’re on the other end of the line to help you out. They have experience with just about everything that can go wrong on a trip, so they’ll be there to advise on the best way to handle any hiccups.
One of the best things about working with a travel agent is the experience and connections that they bring to the table. Because travel agents work with suppliers, they have personal relationships with actual people. As a result, they can pull strings and call in favors to get you the best possible deal, because the supplier wants to keep in the agent’s good graces so they’ll send more business their way.
In short, a travel agent is a great way to save time and money when you’re planning a trip, but if you’re still on the fence, go find an agent and talk to them! Ask questions and consider what works best for you.
Dominique Barba, CTC, ECC