A World with Travel Agents
The global economy is recovering. This past May the Conference Board recorded a 1.1% increase in the U.S. consumer price index equating to more disposable income and resultantly, an increase in demand for travel. It was recently projected by Lonely Planet that, "65 billion people will fly over the next 15 years...that's how many people flew over that past 100 years!" Arguably, smart technology via phones and self operated platforms will pioneer the travel industry's future. As technology advances, a working middle class grows and demands for travel and accommodation increase. Although a do-it-yourself ethos does dominate traveler's activities and abilities to see the world, such options are not always practical to busy professionals and large groups of leisurely adventures. Hence, we use travel agents.
Why Use a Travel Agent?
Travel agents know the places and how to properly analyze trip alternatives. Successful travel agents have been in the business for years. They're well traveled, know people, and have likely been through nearly every travel obstacle imaginable. The difference between using an online or app based booking, is that an agent will know if you're going to the "right" destination and take the time to look for another suitable one. And because travel professionals have done this daily for years, it's second nature to make sure everything is in your best interest.
2. Problem Solved
So you're at the airport and something goes wrong (missed flight, security's ridiculous, etc.) or the front desk can't find your reservation, travel agents are your greatest advocate. They'll contact everyone necessary to resolve the issues faced and find your best alternative, probably at no additional cost either. Not too mention the group conundrum. "I have people in New York, L.A. and Denver, but we all need to meet in London at this time," -no problem, that's what agents do! They'll save you time so you can go about your busy schedule.
After multiple bookings with an agent a relationship is developed. This is the best part for everyone. Agents take pride in knowing the world and how to travel it, and they won't hesitate to share knowledge with you or put the foot down and say, "go here, not there...because I know what you like." The client's tastes and preferences don't have to be translated through the strenuous mental calculations of what a booking site presents. They need only be expressed to your agent who provides viable results.
4. Bang for Your Buck
The most common misconception is "travel agent" is synonymous with "additional fees." Not completely true. Travel agents make their money through travel suppliers, hotels, airlines, and tour companies. Through referrals and booking, agents receive a percentage from the supplier, except for airlines. Thus clients essentially acquire an additional service for free. This service comes with the expertise, problem solving, and travel relationships gained from your interactions. Not to mention your ease of mind and saved time from passing the work off to someone who likes booking trips! In all fairness though, if you have a crazy complex trip that would have taken you months to put together your agent may charge a fee to get all of the logistics together. Certainly worth it, wouldn't you agree?
So, How do You Choose Your Agent?
Pick a travel agent based on their experience. This means the amount of time the agency has been in business, where they've traveled to, if they specialize in business, leisure or both and what their reviews are. An agency in business for 40 years versus an agency of 5 years is probably the first choice, unless no one has anything good to say.
After booking and depending on the type of trip, a stop into the office may be required to exchange or pick up travel documents, so make sure the agency is within practical reach of your daily activities. The goal is convenience and opportunity, right?
Yes travel agents are not synonymous with additional fees, but sometimes those fees are necessary. For example, with airlines. Airlines don't like giving travel agents money, so often a light booking fee through an agent will be charged. This is acceptable, especially if you're solving the group conundrum or without time. Otherwise, travel agents have partners and affiliations who happily pay a percentage of their transactions. The only other additional fee applies in situations of complex trip planning, where multiple destinations, tours, activities, and accommodation bookings are involved. This still outweighs the opportunity cost of complex planning, in more than just time.
Think Twice Before Your Next Trip!
Travel agents love helping and sharing their expertise. They've got your back and they're not after your wallet. When your next travel opportunity or business trip comes up, think twice and reach out to a travel agency. You may find traveling requires even less effort without a smart phone.
Thanks for reading!
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