Why use a travel agent or travel broker?

This is a common question I’m often asked.  Why should I use a travel agent or broker when I can book online myself?

Granted many airlines and travel companies have booking engines on their sites so why do I need a travel agent to book my travel?

There are so many reasons, but here are a few:

  • Why spend hours and hours comparing sites, prices, options, ratings when a professional can do it for you?
  • Travel agents are trained professionals in their field so know what to look out for amongst the fare rules of each airfare an airline sells.  If you need to change any flights, or if the airline changes their schedule, if you’ve booked it online, you’ll have to spend ages on the phone to their call centres.  A travel agent can update bookings and reissue tickets in a flash, as they use the Global airline system.  Plus they can keep you informed of any changes to your flights while you are travelling.  If you don’t supply enough info to an airline they have no way of contacting you which can lead to hours of stress for lost time at airports.
  • This also applies to any disasters that happen, by force of nature or delays. Agents are able to handle problems straight away and reorganise flights for you.  If your passport has expired and you only realise at check-in agents can re-accommodate your flights instantly.  A good travel agent will notify you if your passport is nearing its expiry date, or if a visa is required for a country you are travelling to.  Booking online won’t point either of these things out to you.

 

The details are in the small print:

  • Have you ever read the terms and conditions of airfares, vehicle hire, hotel fees, tour conditions etc?  Travel agents and brokers are trained to read these in detail, and, due to the volume of travel they book, they are used to each of the policies.  We know what to point out to you that is important.  If you book with some third party websites,  you’ll notice they don’t all include taxes for where you are staying or what activity you are booking, and you can be stung for quite a bit more money to pay on check-out if you have missed this by booking it yourself.

Knowledge is key:

  • Do you know how to get from A to B?  Have you thought through the logistics of how you get to a city after arriving from a long flight?  Sometimes this can be daunting, and if you’ve forgotten to book a shuttle or transfer or arrange a tour company to pick you up, it can be quite stressful and time consuming to do it when you’re tired, or if you’re not sure exactly where you’re going.

 

Using an agent or broker isn’t any more expensive:

  • The perception can sometimes be that a travel agent or broker are more expensive than the internet.  We buy from the same source as major travel agencies and chains. The smaller agents don’t necessarily have the marketing budgets of the airlines or major travel agencies, but we all buy from the same pool.  An airline, or third party site may advertise cheap flights so it looks like a good deal, but when you go to book they sometimes slam you with a booking fee.  Some travel agents will add them too, but smaller operators like myself have no need to add anymore margin.
  • We get better rates from some wholesalers too, so in some cases, we can be cheaper than the internet.
  • Travel agents are paid a commission from some airlines, hotels, cruise lines, tour companies and operators – not from the customer who is paying the price.

 

Your money is safer:

  • A travel agent uses wholesalers and suppliers that they have contracts with, so when you use them to book you have more peace of mind.  If you book via the internet, particularly with a third party site, you cannot guarantee your purchase is safe, either by your details being handed over or by the financial collapse of an overseas operator.
  • Our relationships with our wholesalers and suppliers also means we can get great added-extras from resorts which you wouldn’t if you booked them online.
  • As well as offering advice on bookings, a travel agent can advise you on such issues as exchange rates, travel insurance, crowds, weather, competency of tours operators, areas of a town to avoid, travel visa requirements, vaccinations, passports, tipping etiquette, packing lists and trip cancellation penalties and restrictions. A travel agent can also sort out which airlines charge for checked bags or have roomier exit-row seating.  They know how to construct an airfare to get you a good deal.  Most third party flight booking sites can only cope if you fly from A to B with no complicated stopovers.

 

I love what I do and am very passionate about travel, and I truly care about the welfare of my customers, not just my bottom line.

**  Article by SARAH WEAVER – Connect with her HERE!   **

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