Travel agencies go beyond just finding plane tickets or booking a cruise. They often serve as the middle person between a traveler and the various services and destinations. It is a myth that booking through an agent will cost more. Travel agencies get their commissions from the various cruise lines, vacation packages, and airlines, not from the customer. This fact can actually save you money.
While it is true that if you simply need a flight from point A to point B, and back, you can probably get that on your own at a reasonable rate. Even if you need a hotel at point B for a few nights, you can negotiate that on your own and get a great rate. But, what if you need more than that? What if you don’t have the time to shop the rates, negotiate, and then compare all the rates? That is where a travel agency can come in and help.
When preparing for a trip, the packing, planning at home and the destination, arranging for coverage at work, and all of the other little details can be daunting. So, if you can get a little help with the travel details, it can be a big help. A travel agency can handle all of these particulars for you.
A travel agency can often pull together the airfare, hotel accommodations, rental car, and maybe even a few meals and event tickets, and put them into a package deal that makes the entire trip much less stressful. Their immense network of connections in various locations and with various services can help make each transition in the trip easier. When it’s done right you should not notice a bump anywhere, just a smooth ride from point A to point B.
The network of resources a travel agent has at their disposal pays off for you in price as well. Because a travel agency has connections with many different services they can find you the best flight, hotel, rental car, etc. for the right price. They spend the time researching all the options so you don’t have to. When they are done, they can put together a package with the best price for each component of the trip. They have leeway in the pricing also, because their commission comes from the companies they sell for, so they can offer a lower cost by cutting their commission slightly. You win with a great price, the airlines and hotels win with people in their beds and seats, and the agency wins with a multi-part sale.
A travel agency can also answer many of the questions that arise before a trip. They can help with travel insurance, inoculation procedures, passport and visa applications, connections at the destination, and even transport from the airport to hotel. They can often answer destination specific questions to help you prepare for the trip, as well, such as climate conditions, crime rate, availability of certain amenities, etc.
Any time you are planning a long, multi-destination trip or specialized trip, a travel agency should be involved. The multi-destination trip can become very confusing, especially if the destinations are international. The various countries are all likely to have their own laws governing travel and a travel agent can help you navigate those laws. They can also help you book the best, most reliable flights to and from the various points.
A traveler going to a difficult country or one where Americans are unpopular should also use a travel agent. Whether the issue is obtaining a Visa or slipping into the country via a small charter service from a friendly country, a knowledgeable agent will be able to help with that. Sometimes flying to a country like Switzerland and then taking a small connecting flight on a European airline will reduce the tension upon entering some countries.
Travelers with special needs or special requests will find more success using an agency, also. If you want to get special rates for age, affiliation, or occupation, you might find it easier with a travel agent. If you need a specific room number in a particular hotel in the city of destination then you might need a travel agent to arrange that for you. If you must follow a specific diet while traveling, a travel agent might be able to recommend eating establishments or the location of specialty food stores. They can also arrange for accommodations on flights.
If you find yourself stranded your agent may be able to redirect you and get you moving again. If a snowstorm in Maine strands you at the airport, they can help to find you accommodations. If your flight out of Cleveland is mysteriously cancelled they can help you get on another plane. If the hotel you were supposed to stay at in Bangkok burned to the ground just before you got there, they can find alternate lodging. Such disasters are rare, but they do happen – and working with a travel agent means that you have an advocate and a helping hand while you are away from home