I get this question all the time. With all the online travel agencies out there, why should I book with a travel agent?
When I first started my career as a travel agent, the only way to arrange a trip was to call a tour operator or a travel agent. My phone would be ringing off the hook and people would stay on hold for over an hour just to book their travel.
Expedia and other big online travel agencies started in 1996 and the future of travel agents and agencies changed. There was a decrease in people using travel agents and agencies had to find a way to fill this gap. They changed their overall philosophy from being "order takers" to offering more personalized service and creating long lasting relationships with their clients.
There are so many reasons why working with a travel agent is beneficial to you, here are some of my top ones:
There are so many options out there, how do you choose the right resort? Travel agents are trained experts and know how to sort through all these options. We spend all day, every day researching the best possible vacation options for our clients. We have more knowledge than you can ever gather from an online search.
The biggest reason to book with a travel agent is that we can make recommendations and help you plan a trip that meets your needs and budget.We help you avoid wasting time and money on the things you are not interested in and lets you focus instead on taking the trip.
My clients love this part. I listen to their wants and needs and make my recommendations based on this all within a budget they are comfortable with.
When people pull the trigger and book an internet flight and hotel, they fail to consider the amount of time they've spent researching their trip. On average it takes 10-20 hours of your time to research your vacations. This time can easily double if you're researching a new and unfamiliar destination.
I have heard from some people that they really enjoy the research and it is part of the enjoyment and fun of planning a trip. However, just because you may enjoy and appreciate doing this your self it does not mean that you know what you are doing. Working with a travel agent saves you a ton of time and gives you the priceless peace of mind that it was done correctly.
Travel agents are a “one stop shop.” They can handle every aspect of
your vacation—from airline tickets to lodging, ground transportation, activities, tours and more.
Whenever I book a trip, I include transfers, offer travel insurance and provide information on tours and activities that are available in the destination my clients are traveling too. I also offer valuable tips and information on their destination that they would not receive if booking online.
And think about this, have you ever had questions or issues with a trip you booked on Expedia? Trying to contact someone who is actually going to help you is nearly impossible. That is a huge benefit to working with an agent, you have one person to contact who will answer your questions or help you with an issue quickly and efficiently.
Consider this: "It's incredibly EASY to book a flight and hotel online but it's incredibly difficult to plan a memorable family vacation experience."
The difference between these two statements is completely misunderstood by so many consumers that sadly miss out on treasured vacation experiences.
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to booking travel is between the words cheap vs value. For example, a travel agent may recommend booking a nonstop flight for 50.00 more per person but will save you 2 full days of your vacation than if you were to book the double connecting flights you saw online. Travel agents do not recommend the cheapest option they recommend the BEST option.
Like I mentioned before, travel agents have changed over the years in the way that they deal with their clients. Their biggest goal is to create a long lasting relationship with their clients and strive to be their go-to person when their clients book a vacation. This means that they need to offer personalized service so that their clients come back.
Since I have been in this industry for almost 20 years and have a strong base of repeat customers, I get to know my clients preferences which helps me when I am recommending resorts. I have some clients that HAVE to have an ocean view, some that appreciate really good service and would pay more for it and some that are foodies and need to have a good selection of restaurants. I really know my clients and they appreciate that.
This is probably the biggest reason why you should book with an agent. What if you experience a problem while traveling? A travel agent acts on your behalf, as your personal travel advocate. You do not get this with online travel agencies!
I remember a few years back I had clients that had issues with their hotel and wanted to switch resorts. They contacted me and I was able to do this for them within a few hours while they continued their vacation. I spent the time it took for them to be happy and they did not have to worry about it. Again, this would NOT be the case if you booked online.
So with all these reasons, why would you not book with a travel agent?
Until next week!