If you are going to Miami for some shopping or to catch a game at the American Airlines Arena or to hang out on South Beach, you might be able get good deals online or by going to the venue sites themselves.
But what if you’re thinking about a second honeymoon or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe or the other side of the world? Are you going to rely on a website or someone you can talk to face to face? Longitude’s Pat Amante reports.
With money increasingly tight these days, it’s important to get the most for every penny. And contrary to popular misconceptions, travel agents are still in demand and can help a lot with making a much-needed vacation as inexpensive and hassle-free as possible.
According to the American Society of Travel Agents, travel agents still sell 51 percent of all airline tickets, 87 percent of all cruises, 81 percent of all tours and packages, 45 percent of all car rentals and about 47 percent of all hotel stays.
“Working with a professional travel consultant to plan your next trip, be it a grand tour of Europe or a long weekend, can save you both time and money.”
Many agencies have access to special packages and offers that aren’t available on regular sites. And since they know the best places to stay, the best sites to see and the best places to eat, they can save time and aggravation as well. We look with the eye of the professional and keep in mind pieces of information to make your trip run smoother,” a travel advisor said.
“Travel advisors are committed to making their clients’ trip the best travel experience possible,” Russo said.
“So while the summer travel season is always a busy one, this year if you work with a travel consultant to plan your summer vacations, it doesn’t have to be a frustrating one.”
Why you should consider a travel agent?
“Being a travel agent is more than just selling travel. It takes training, attention to detail and expertise to keep clients happy and coming back,” said Russo.
“Travel agents are there for their clients before, during and after the trip and when the unexpected happens. We provide value, expertise, convenience and personal service to our customers and understand that travel planning isn’t just about places, it’s about people.”
So before you let your fingers do the walking over the computer keyboard, here are a few reasons why you might want to try a travel agent instead:
Customer advocacy: If you have a problem with a particular part of your travel experience, the agent is there to act on your behalf to see that restitution is made. ASTA, for example, is the only travel industry association aggressively fighting to improve the travel experience, and air transportation in particular, for all consumers, not just those with access to the Internet.
Expert guidance: Travel agents, unlike instructions on a Web page, are experts in understanding and deciphering the myriad travel information and codes out there. It’s what they’ve been trained to do, and they do it every day.
Personalised service: Instead of an impersonal voice thousands of miles away, travel agents are your neighbours. They know what you want and what you value in your travel experience.
Professional advice: Travel agents are there to make sure you get where you want to go, when you want to go and for the lowest price.
Time: Instead of checking a long list of travel web pages, which only provide rates and fares for the companies that have contracted with them, why not go straight to the source? A travel agent has all the information at their fingertips, saving you a few hours in front of a computer screen.
Unbiased information: Agents work for their clients, not for a travel supplier. It makes sense that a happy customer will be a repeat customer. (Source: Excerpt taken from American Society of Travel Agents newsletter.)
Which also brings to mind the recent Ash Cloud from Eyjfjalljokull Volcano and how that has disrupted air travel, many travelers have complained about spending a lot of money on phone calls and precious time to re-organise their trips that they booked online, or even the Airlines’ strikes and how that can be frustrating if you have booked your trip online.
Who will change your bookings for you? Who do you call? Who will protect you on other flights? If you have booked through a travel advisor, all you have to do is make one phone call. The travel advisor will make sure to re-organise your trip to your specified needs and grab the last available seat for you.