Why You Might Actually Want To Use A Travel Agent

Why You Might Actually Want to Use a Travel Agent

If you're looking to save money, planning your own travel rather than using an agent is generally the best way to go. However, if you have special needs (like health issues or specific sights you want to see or things you want to do) a travel agent can save you time and help you find what you want.

Image from grassrootsgroundswell

Maxwell Williams, writing at Conde Nast Traveller, gives some common situations in which you'd want to use a travel agent.

  • You're travelling with a large group.
  • You want to attend a special event (like a limited entry exhibit or party).
  • You have health issues that need to be accommodated (like not being able to stand for long periods of time).
  • You need a the insight of someone who plans lots of different travel. For example, if you're short on time in a destination, want to go off the beaten path, or simply don't even know where to start.

To that, we'd add booking round-the-world or multi-destination trips -- while the online versions for these have improved, they rarely have the flexibility of a full travel agent.

If you need help finding a great agent, ask family and friends for their recommendations. Once you have a few picked out, you can search online to see if there are any reviews on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp.

Why a New Generation of Travel Agents Matters More Than Ever [Conde Nast Traveller]


Comments

    I use a TA because I'm a lazy bastard that can't be narfed looking for the cheapest ticket and am willing to pay the extra 20% or so mark up for someone to do it for me...

    ***Disclosure I run a travel agency so this reply is completely biased***

    There actually is no downside to using an agent - most of the arguments against using an agent can be combated.

    The main one I've heard is you pay more?
    Why? Most agencies have a price match/beat policy on flights/accommodation/tours/insurance so you'll pay the same if not less than if you were to do it yourself?

    We also have these advantages people may not be aware of -
    PNF airline fares - These are specially negotiated rates that are worked out between airline and agency which are cheaper than the normal 'published' version available online.

    Specific discount fares - If you're 30 or under, a teacher, a senior, military or a student we often have access to discounted tickets which have to be manually priced.

    RTW- Round the world tickets are definitely made easier with assistance of a good agent. Think route mapping, visa assistance, getting the most direct flight, knowledge of more premium airline brands, knowledge of different RTW fare options (There are many!)

    Using our resources/networks- Free upgrades, advice on fares for more frequent flyer accrual, getting waitlists cleared for cheaper fares or date changes, getting fees waived/reduced. Holding seats without requiring payment.

    Time/convenience- Ability for agents to do up your itinerary for you and email through for you to check over at your convenience.

    Exclusive discounts with suppliers - We often have special offers available through major suppliers which arn't available to the public. % off discounts from companies like G Adventures,Contiki,Topdeck,Trafalgar,Insight,Globus,Cosmos,AdventureWorld,Geckos,Peregrine etc, free onboard credits with cruise lines like Princess,P&O, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity.

    Flexibility- Ability to confirm many flights/accom/tours with only deposits and full payment due closer to departure. Priced in AUD with no conversion charges.

    It's frustrating when travel agencies get a bashing - don't get me wrong there are some horrible agents out there much like there are some horrible gardeners/hairdressers/mechanics or other service based jobs. If you can find a good agent stick with them as mentioned I'm sure the benefits largely outweigh any negative perceptions you may have.

    ***Cheeky Plug***If you do need a hand with travel plans and can see the value in an agent I'd be happy to help point you in the direction of a good one you can contact me at [email protected]
    Cheers Daniel.

    I think it comes down to what you like. I've done Europe with nothing but a back pack and a couple of grand and I loved the experience. That said structure can be better when you have limited time and want to maximise the experience.

    I've also done a bunch of tours through various companies such as Contiki, Topdeck and Intrepid. The Greek Islands are in my opinion one of the best trips to do as tour (I've blogged about my experiences at www.thetourreviewer.com ) Instant friends, party atmosphere are all things you get on a tour. Places like Europe however I would defiantly do as a self directed trip if I went back. I prefer to do cultural things at a slower pace, I find you get more out of the experience.

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