- Pros of Using a Travel Agent
- Potential Cons of Using a Travel Agent
Here, we will discuss the 10 pros and cons of using a travel agent. We have never seen as many travel industry changes as we have experienced in the past year. Could one of the changes be a renewed patronization of Travel Agents? Once considered a dying industry, there had been a resurgence of the profession before the arrival of Covid-10. This article will be perfect for those of you on the fence about using a travel agent.
Pros of Using a Travel Agent
Expert Knowledge & Industry Connections
Essentially, your travel agent is doing something for you that you could do for yourself. Experience and knowledge are the main areas where your travel agent should shine. I am sure that you have a career, and I imagine you are much better at whatever you do daily to earn a living than someone who has never done that job. The same is valid with Travel Agents. Your agent should provide you with recommendations that the average traveler would not even know to exist.
An adept agent will have connections all over the world. They will have built a network of travel suppliers that they can rely on for your travel requests. Your travel agent should be able to leverage their connections to answer any inquiry that you may have, even for topics in which they are not an expert.
Extra Amenities and Benefits
Did you know that many travel agents can offer their clients breakfast daily, upgrades, property credits, and other great benefits at thousands of hotels? Often, guests stay at the same hotel, paying the same rate, but some receive upgrades to a higher room category. These guests also receive breakfast daily, check-outs, and some other amenities like property credits. One room will not receive credits because the one room was booked directly through the hotel’s website. The other room received benefits because they used a travel agent.
Virtuoso, Ensemble, Signature, and American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts are a few of the benefit programs offered by travel agents. There are too many to list here. Please see our article, Hotel Consortia Benefits, that you should never miss out on for more details on these benefits.
Problem-Solving: Pre, During, and Post-Trip
Problems can and do happen. While we never hope for an issue to arise while on vacation, we know that there is always a possibility. Travel agents tend to be much more competent than customer service reps from online travel booking sites. Trust me; if you are at the airport dealing with a canceled flight, you would much rather talk to your travel agent than a random person answering a 1-800 number. In fact, during times of mass airline cancellations (i.e., winter storms in NYC), your agent will be able to offer solutions right away. Airline hold times are consistently 30 plus minutes or multiple hours when dealing with high volume cancellations.
Based on the travel agent/agency you booked through, did you know that the hotel will usually resolve your problems much faster? If you arrive at a hotel and have an issue with your room, the hotel sees you as one guest with a problem. Hotels typically solve issues based on clout and status. Let’s say that you’ve arrived at an oversold hotel. You could be selected to be relocated if you are not a repeat guest or influential figure. While I genuinely feel that no one intentionally disservices their guests, it happens. Did you know that your travel agent’s status and their agency could carry over to your reservation? You will find a faster resolution when working with a high-performing travel agent part of a large, respected Travel Agency. Travel vendors work hard to protect their relationships with such agencies.
Planning a trip with multiple people and multiple parts can be exhausting. An experienced travel agent will plan your vacation out in a way that is easily readable and shareable with others traveling with you. They will provide a clear outline of your day-to-day activities that they have planned. Your agent will also make suggestions for things to do during your leisure time. For people with busy times and limited time, this is invaluable.
Once you have found a travel agent that you truly connect with, your future trips will be even more seamless. You will have to allow time for this relationship to develop. Once it does, a proficient agent will send you to travel ideals that perfectly match what you need before you even ask for it.
Price – Pros
Cost is usually the most important thing for the majority of travelers. No one enjoys overpaying- for anything! Pricing is the only point that is both a Con and a Pro in this article.
Your agent’s job is not only to plan the most fantastic vacation, but it is also to offer it at the most cost-effective price. Travel agents make their money from commissions paid by the travel vendor. An agent’s profit is typically taken from the travel vendor’s profits and not from a markup that they are now charging you. Your agent should have enough resources to find the lowest pricing available. A skillful agent will apply promotions and utilize price matches to ensure the best pricing for their clients. Often, travel agents have many more options through exclusive networks not available to general consumers purchasing travel online.
Potential Cons of Using a Travel Agent
Price – Cons
Now we are here looking at the flip side of this coin. While it’s true that your agent should save you money, this is not always the case. First, many agents, especially the top travel agents, charge a planning fee. Planning fees are often non-refundable fees, discounted from the cost of the trip once confirmed. Planning fees are becoming a more common practice with Travel Agents, especially highly sought-after ones.
Also, Travel agents can earn bonus commission and incentives for selling certain travel companies. Booking incentives may cause agents to aggressively market and sell certain vendors, regardless of what is best for the client. Many agents will also do what is more familiar to them and again forgo doing what is in the client’s best interest. There could potentially be more cost-effective options that your agent did not offer you.
Limited Availability to reach the agent
Being a travel agent is a job. Your agent will have set business hours that they are in operation. Most agents will have procedures for in-travel and after-hours emergencies. For other servicing such as price quotes, availability checks, etc., you may have to wait until the next business day for an answer to your inquiry. If you are a person that enjoys staying up late and working on tasks, then this may be something that you will not like. If you enjoy being up late pricing out your travel plans, you may not find the benefit of using an agent.
Differences in Tastes / Incompatibility
At the beginning of working with an agent, you may receive options that you do not like. No one knows you better than you know yourself, and since not the one planning your travel yourself, there’s a big possibility that things might not go as you imagined. Many consumers know what they want but have a hard time communicating it. When there is a break in communication between the agent and client, there will be a problem.
You may also explain to your agent exactly what you want, but your agent may come up with their interpretation of what that is. A great Travel Agent will know how to make recommendations based on their clients’ interests and tastes. An experienced agent will ask the right questions to understand what their clients are looking for truth. But, there is a possibility of running into agents who have not yet mastered this skill. This could be a potential con of using a travel agent.
A travel agent is a middle man. Your travel agent is your liaison between the operating travel companies (i.e., Hotel, Tour Operators, etc.) and yourself. When
Potential for Travel Agent Mistakes and Errors
It’s typically hard to misspell your name. When booking your travel, you are the person providing your details. When dealing with the transfer of information, there is always a risk of miscommunication or error. Travel Agents are humans, and they can make mistakes. A skilled agent will have a quality assurance procedure where they are double and triple-checking their work.
Potential For Fraud – How to Avoid
There have been reported cases where people have fallen victims to quack travel agents. Please do your due diligence to ensure your travel agent is a real agent. Travel Agents should pay the vendors directly for your products. Do not send cash (cash app, Zelle, Venmo, etc.) to your travel agent. These days the travel agent should send your payment details to the travel vendor (airline, cruise line, hotel, etc.), and they will charge the payment. Please be hesitant of travel agents that ask for you to pay them directly.
Make sure to vet any travel agent before you begin to work with them. Visit their websites and social media accounts. Also, ask them for a link that shows that the travel agent has registered with an official travel agent organization. Most agents have registration with multiple organizations but, at a minimum, should be registered with at least one. For more tips, check out our article on how to verify and successfully hire a travel agent.
All in all, the success rates of using a travel agent come down to the agent’s ability to understand your travel style, travel budget, and interests.