It’s a huge myth that the Internet made travel agents obsolete. Travel agents can even help do-it-yourself travelers who prefer to be involved in the itinerary-making process and can save them money in the process.
A well-versed travel advisor can book trips with insider knowledge and for the best price, while providing invaluable hotel and activity recommendations and snatching up special rates.
Why Using a Travel Agent is Your Best Bet (according to U.S. News):
Your Travel Agent Will be Your Advocate
Should something go awry (think inclement weather, flight cancellations, or health-related issues), a true travel agent will help their clients troubleshoot and sort through options and help guide them through the next best path. This way, the client won’t have to waste time on hold with the airline or tour guide when they could be in a business meeting or out enjoying themselves.
“Travel advisers provide advice, access, advocacy and accountability – a combination that’s nearly impossible to replicate online,” says Terrie Hansen, Virtuoso’s senior vice president of marketing.
Also, the more off-the-grid the itinerary, the more an expert adviser will be invaluable to you.
“Having somebody who’s looking after your entire trip can save you a huge amount of headache and heartache,” said Catherine Heald, co-founder and CEO of Remote Lands Inc., a private tour operator that specializes in organizing customized trips in Asia.
A Travel Expert Can Secure the Lowest Rates
DIY travelers swear by online tools to helping them get the best price on flights, hotels and on-the-ground activities. But they aren’t aware of the special contracts travel agents have with these companies, allowing you to snag an even better deal, along with extra perks that wouldn’t typically be included in your rate.
Travel Agents Use Personal Details to Direct You to Lesser-Known Gems
You may be itching to get to Paris to study French history at its best, but a travel agent will lead you Colmar or Annecy. Or, you may be dying to get out of the harsh Northeast winter to a beach, and your agent may book you on a trip to Croatia rather than Italy’s Almafi Coast. These destinations will off-the-beaten track, just as enticing and likely significantly less expensive than its tourist-ridden counterparts.
“One of my favorite aspects of the business is getting to know my clients and planning little surprises for them,” says Lindsey Epperly, travel consultant and owner of Epperly Travel, a luxury travel consulting company. “For instance, when a couple walks into their hotel room for their first trip away from their newborn only to find a photo of their baby on the nightstand, that’s what turns an ordinary trip into an unforgettable memory.”
Travel Agents Can Provide Access to Lucrative Perks and Privileges
Agents have spent years forming relationships with venders, allowing clients to receive even more perks than they would if they had booked a hotel or land tour directly. Working with a travel advisor can help you score freebies like complimentary breakfasts, transportation to and from the airport, complimentary upgrades, and spa services, amenities that can add up quickly.
You Can Still Play a Role in the Trip-Planning Process
Some travelers trust their advisor inherently, letting them do all the heavy-lifting and itinerary-planning. But for DIY travelers who like to have a hand in the process, working with an agent can be a collaborative process, and advisors know that it may be hard to convert more hands-on planners. But a well-matched travel agent-client relationship will make planning a trip fun, personal and efficient, ensuring in the best and most valued trip possible.
“Travel is one of the few things where you can get as much pleasure out of the planning process as you do from the actual trip itself, Hansen said. “But there is also the stress of worrying about making the wrong choice and, despite the avalanche of reviews, separating what’s hype from what’s real and true,”