Why Use A Travel Agency?
Vacation On BudgetSome people shy away from using a travel agent because they think they'll be charged extra for the agent's services. Some agents charge additional fees (for example, a $25 fee for their time and research), but most make their commission through the travel suppliers. Nina Meyer, president of the American Society of Travel Agents, says you can save big on airfare with the right agent: "I have seen in the past people save anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,000 on a ticket." It is difficult to find good flight deals on your own. Travel agent are able to get deals you aren't able to find.
Learn what you want"Very often, people don't really know what kind of trip they want," Shillinglaw says. It's the travel agent's job to provide you with a number of options they think you'd enjoy. Not only will they help you book a trip, they'll help you build the trip.
ConnectionsDon't underestimate a travel agent's extensive Rolodex. Agents may have people on the ground who you can connect with, such as a local tour guide, as well as people you can reach out to if you encounter any problems. "Having access to a travel agent's insiders makes it just an overall better customer service experience than going at it alone," Peters says. Kate Rice, who covers airlines for TravelPulse.com, says agents who book a lot of flights develop strong relationships with sales representatives. "That means they have double leverage that they can use on your behalf—the purchasing power of the agency group they're affiliated with, as well as the personal relationships they have with their sales reps," she says.
Planning The ExperienceThe right travel agent will enlighten you about trip options you may not be able to find online. "It's about knowing what the real local find is, whether that be a great dinner at a small café or tickets to a private show," Peters says. "When people travel, they don't want to travel like a tourist. So it's about the travel specialist being able to help people find unique life experiences that they'll remember."
Destination KnowledgeFlawless travel plans lie in the details, and travel agents are experts when it comes to handling those details. "It could be a pretty picture, but what if there's construction going on? What if it's in a bad neighborhood?" says Meyer. "Agents have that kind of background knowledge."
When You ProblemsDespite extensive travel planning, you might encounter some bumps on your trip. Having a travel agent handle them for you can make your travel experience a lot less stressful. "In almost any rough situation, you need a travel agent," Meyer says. "I have clients who were going to miss a sports event because their flight got cancelled, but we still got them there." Says Weissman: "If the hotel room doesn't match your expectations and you don't have a travel agent, you're on your own."
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