The Value of Using a Travel Agent
Most of the travel agencies I am familiar with charge nothing for their expertise and advice on the usual vacation itineraries. There are a few upscale agencies that have mainly upscale customers who vacation often that do charge several hundred dollars to plan an itinerary. Because their clients are savvy travelers who expect a very high quality experience, they are willing to pay the price. The bulk of travel agencies fall in the category of those that only charge to put together a complicated itinerary. In most cases the fee is modest and is deducted from the final cost of the trip. We recently put together a very complicated itinerary, for instance, to Cancun, from cities that had few good options on airline times and added a fee of less than $100 for two do so. Most people think that he role of travel agencies ends there, at the final price of the trip.
A good local agency’s role actually only begins with getting the best price and other options for you. Here are some things an agency does.
1. Travel agents find the best resort and flight itineraries for the best value. Some options are not available unless you use an agent.
2. Often the agent knows of ways to get extra savings, perhaps changing your dates for charter flights (airplanes leased by the wholesaler) or special group rates. For instance, a Hawaii cruise for $4,200 with air from Atlanta in a balcony cabin for two people, or a fourteen day Alaska and Canadian Yukon trip for $6,600 for two with air from Atlanta.
3. Some specialists in resorts such as Sandals and Beaches can get you additional savings and extra amenities as well as complimentary upgrades.
4. Agencies with 7/24 service are there to help you daily, even on a Sunday morning if you are traveling and something unforeseen happens e.g. the airline changes your flights.
5. An agency with 7/24 service can help you if the hotel does not provide the room or services you purchased.
6. A good agency helps you get compensation for any problems during the trip.
7. Travel insurance is recommended to cover unexpected emergencies, which can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. The policy offered will provide you with the best protection. Policies cover extremely costly consequences that often occur. An agent can get you the right one for you and your circumstances.
8. Agents can often save you from unpleasant experiences due to changes in proof of citizenship rules. (people have traveled with birth certificates that they used in the past may no longer be acceptable. Some places require Visas as well as Passports. Ticketing requires a specified format for your names on your ticket.
9. Agents deal with wholesalers who negotiate the best airfares and hotel rates.
10. The wholesalers agents deal with have a contact at the resort or a 24/7 phone number in the destination if you need assistance of any kind.
11. An agent will usually plan your entire trip through one wholesaler. That way, if the unexpected occurs, you do not have to make contact with five or six companies.
Service is most important today when you need it and cannot get it. Use a service oriented agency. The service is free and you won’t be “on your own”. The hotel or wholesaler will probably never see you again, but wants a good rapport with your agent since the agency will probable send people there again or recommend them to other agents.
Therefore, they are likely to offer some compensation for any problems or issues through your agent.
Many Happy Returns,