In this age of the internet, on-line Travel Sites have popped up faster than weeds in the driveway. They are everywhere, and often have cute, catchy names and slogans. The general idea is: you jump on your computer, and quickly and easily get the “best deal ever” on your vacation. It sounds great, right? So why use a Travel Agent?
In April 2012,the U.S. News & World Report published an article about the increase in the numbers of people returning to Travel Agents. According to a survey done by I.B.M Institute for Business Value, 20% of travelers said it took them 5 or more hours to search and book their vacation online. This is strong motivation for travelers to turn to Travel Agents.
There are also an overwhelming number of choices available online. For example: there are more than 70 all-inclusive hotels on the main island of Cancun alone. In October 2012, there are 43 separate cruises leaving from Port Canaveral, on 3 different cruise lines, on 7 different ships. One of those ships has 1250 cabins, available in multiple configurations. According to VisitOrlando.com, the Orlando area has 450 hotels, and more than 115,000 guest rooms. There is A LOT out there!
So why use a Travel Agent?
Save Money. Many people are under the misconception that they pay the Travel Agent for his/her service. This is generally not true. With the exception of small fees sometimes added on for air-only bookings, commissions are paid to the Travel Agent by the resort, hotel, or tour company. Agents also usually work directly with suppliers, resulting in a lower rate than the ones published.
Save Time. You could spend days and days researching the various all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. Which ones are family-friendly? Which ones serve gourmet food? Which ones include tours and excursions? Or – you could call your Travel Agent and let him/her know “I’m interested in an adults-only resort in Mexico, somewhere with a nice beach, close to shopping, where the majority of the staff speaks English.” Then your Travel Agent – who generally knows the resort chains already – can research the options and present those back to you. Instead of spending 3 days on the computer, you spent 5 minutes making a phone call or writing an email, and voila! You have the best options presented right to you.
Gain Knowledge. Many times you might not be sure which type of vacation you want. Maybe your kids want to go on a cruise to the Bahamas, but you think you might like Alaska. Maybe your spouse wants to go hiking to Europe, or your parents want to take the whole family to the Grand Canyon. Use your Travel Agent’s training and knowledge to help you choose the trip that’s right for you. A 10-day European River cruise might sound right up your ally, but may not be a good fit for your elementary-aged children. Your Travel Agent will be able to clue you in on what will work best for you, and what won’t.
Gain a Safety Net. Invariably, travel has hitches. Planes get re-routed. Luggage gets lost. Hurricanes pop up out of nowhere. Navigating the “fine print” on most trips is a difficult endeavor at best. If you book through an on-line internet site, and you’re stuck in Belize City at 10:30 at night, you may not be able to get anyone on the phone to help you. Travel Agents are real, live people. We can be reached. We can make calls on your behalf. We can solve your problems for you, especially when you’re not able to. A Travel Agent can be a beacon to you when things go awry.
Travel is PERSONAL. Every person, every family has different desires and expectations for their travel. The nuances that can exist between resorts or between rates/fares can be easily missed or overlooked through the internet. Your Travel Agent is a PERSON who wants to make sure that your PERSONAL EXPERIENCE is a good one. That level of customer service and personal contact is getting harder to find in our digital age. Once you’ve experienced the difference, you’ll be hooked!
So give your local Travel Agent a shot. Call him/her up and see what she comes up with for you. It’s a big, big world out there –let us help you get out there and experience it!