Reasons to Use a Travel Agent
Vacations are only just a click away, thanks to the internet. When I tell people that I’m a travel agent, some are in shock that we’re still around, and I get the impression that they think we became extinct around the time of the dinosaur. So why in the world do we still exist when just about anyone with a computer can book his own trip, right? Actually there’s a little more to it.
Since money seems to be the driving force behind just about every decision, one of the top reasons to use a travel agent is price. One would think that an online agency will show consumers the best deal, but that isn’t always the case. They will show you what they want you to see. It’s called biased display. They make extra money when a consumer buys certain things. But even then, if you see a price that’s more competitive than what a travel agency shows, there’s always a reason, and you might not find out what the reason is until it’s too late. For example, rooms that haven’t been renovated, or are perhaps over the dumpster or the disco are always less. You also might not find out about hidden resort fees and taxes until you arrive. There are also loss leader deals. That’s a marketing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost in order to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods. Companies will toss out a really great deal for a 2-star resort, for example, in hopes that they can up sell something better that costs more. I’ve also seen bait and switch where people book something, then arrive to find they aren’t getting what they paid for. This happened recently where a woman told me that in order to get what they thought they had purchased, they had to pay an additional $783 when they arrived at the resort.
It’s easy to make a price look good online until you know the reasons why. Statistically, travel agents are more likely to find a better deal than a do-it-yourself. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t make it a great deal. I priced a resort stay for a couple only to have them tell me that they found if for less online. When I looked at what they had, it was a flight with a 5-hour layover, they weren’t going to arrive at the resort until late at night, their room overlooked the parking lot, and transfers weren’t included. They didn’t notice all of the details and fine print that would have made their trip less enjoyable. All they saw was a cheaper price. In the end, they only spent a little more, had great flights, more inclusions, and a room with a view.
However, price isn’t the best reason to use an agent. Unless you’re a travel expert, you don’t book travel every day. The average traveler takes a couple of vacations a year while travel professionals book them day in and day out. We know the tricks, traps, and deals versus the rip-offs. Our training never ends because things are constantly changing in the industry. Personally I’ve spent more time with webinars, training events, on-site inspections, and courses with everything from destinations and resorts, Disney and Universal Studios, to every major cruise line, and I think they’ve cost me more time than the classes I took for my undergraduate degree!
Websites make everything look fabulous. The rooms are sparkling, the staff is smiling, and the beaches are filled with supermodels. And if it’s on the web, it must be true, right?
When you book your own travel and spend your hard earned vacation dollars, you go it alone. If something goes wrong, who do you call? 1-800-INTERNET? We have connections. We have relationships with our vendors, wholesalers, consolidators, business development managers, and with hotels, and cruise lines. After all, we supply them with 85% of their business. You have a real live person to call who knows you and who values the relationship.
I’m a big fan of the show “The Amazing Race”, where teams race around the world. And what I’ve noticed is that when the teams are about to race to the next country, the smart ones first find a travel agency.
A travel agent’s advice and guidance makes the biggest difference of all. Our job isn’t just to find you a good deal, but the right deal. Chances are, we’ve been there, done that.
I can think of dozens of reasons to use a travel agent, but I can’t think of a single one not to. We save people time and money, and our services are at no cost and don’t affect the bottom line. When things happen, we have your back.
“Travel agents solve problems you didn’t know you had in ways you don’t understand”.