This is a question that often comes up in online forums, Facebook groups, and Instagram comments. Should you use a travel agent to book your trips? The reality is that there is a sector of travelers who actually don’t even know that travel agents even exist. Well, maybe that is not entirely true, but we have Millennials and Gen Zers today who are used to a world where the internet has always existed. When they want something, they go online first before trying any other options. Today, you can book your own flights you can book your own hotels and you can book your own excursions direct saving both time and money. Right?
Travel Agents have gone from being almost the only way to book your trip to an under-utilized industry. The good news for travel agents is that more people today are questioning if they should utilize the services of an agent. In fact, per the Associated Press the use of a travel agents grew 5% from 2018 to 2019. So, you may also be at a point where you are questioning if the days of personally planning every detail of your upcoming trips are numbered. Hopefully, this article will help guide you in the right direction. We will touch on a few things to consider and also a few Pros and Cons of utilizing travel agents. Hopefully, once you read our points, you can decide if using a travel agent is right for your travel future.
Things to consider
How much time do you have? Travel planning is a service, and like many services, it is one that you can do yourself. But on the other hand, it is one that is extremely time consuming. There are many services that we can do ourselves, but is it in our best interest to do so? Examples are your hairstylist maybe you use a personal trainer or you have someone to come clean your home weekly. These are all things that you could very well do yourself. You could clean your own home, go to the gym by yourself and you could a cut color and style your hair all by yourself. The reality is that most people value the recommendations and experience of service professionals. Of course, this is extremely personal when it comes to travel. There are many people who thoroughly enjoy planning their own trips and have a feeling of accomplishment when they get to experience all of their hard work. Trust me when I tell you, that if you are very hands-on, most travel agents would prefer that you plan your own trips. I am not saying that there are not any agents who enjoy collaborative efforts between them and their clients but I am saying this- most agents would prefer not to work with someone who does not value their suggestions and is constantly making changes based on their continued research.
Travel Agents make their money off of commissions paid by the travel suppliers and travel planning fees. Travel planning fees are becoming more standard in the industry, and I think it is largely due to the fact that many people solicit travel agency services but then book the trips online. I champion people doing the research and making sure that they are booking what is best for them. Do not feel bad if you use a travel agent services and they make a recommendation and provide a price and then you decide to book it elsewhere because you found a lower price that they were unable to match. This takes us to our next thing to consider, Price.
The idea is that you should never pay more when booking through a travel agent. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Many agents receive elevated commissions from certain travel suppliers or the suppliers may offer bonus commissions to agents to book their clients for certain dates. This may cause the agent to push a product to you, that you may not be particularly interested in. A Great Travel Agent, will always put the needs of their client first, but we are human and we know that this is not always the case. When first starting with a travel agent, it is a great idea to price check what they are offering. GO to the major online travel agencies like Expedia and etc. and price the trip that you have been quoted. Be sure to compare, Apples to Apples, (i.e. room categories, class of service on flights, transfers, etc.) to make sure the agent is offering you the best pricing. This will help you build trust in your travel professional. This is key to using a Travel Agent long term, finding one that you completely trust with your travel plans. The relationship is the most important aspect of working with a travel agent, so look at this as a long-term investment. It may take a couple of trips before you and your agent really mesh together in the understanding of travel expectations.
Not all travel agents are experienced in where you want to travel to. Actually today, many people are travel agents part-time or are involved in network marketing companies where they sell the idea of being a travel agent more than they actually sell travel. Many people who claim to be travel agents, don’t have the professional experience or the personal experience in their travels in order to make the recommendations for you. On the flip side, a well versed travel professional will be an extremely knowledgeable travel agent who will have pretty much have either already been where you want to go, have booked numerous clients to these locations, or when neither applies will know exactly who to bring someone into your travel planning process that has. An experienced travel agent will have built a network of connections over the years that utilize with each clients’ trip and will use these to enhance and enrich your trip.
When it comes down to using a travel agent, it is a personal choice. Most people will answer this question based on personal experiences that they have had or that they have heard about using a travel agent. Of course, one bad experience could forever change how someone views the industry. It very well may be in your best interest to plan your own trips. If you would like to dig deeper into this subject check out 10 Pros and Cons of using a travel agent. If you are thinking about using a travel agent but aren’t quite sure what exactly you should look for in your travel agent, check out our guide: What You Should Look for in a Travel Agent .