Planning a trip these days can be confusing and time-consuming. You’ve Googled “Caribbean vacation” and come up with millions of responses. You found a good deal for a hotel online and spent your beach vacation overlooking a parking lot that was being paved. The resort for your honeymoon looked great online, but the postage-stamp-sized pool was filled with screaming children most of the day. Who ya gonna call? The following Myth Busters may help!
MYTH #1: ALL TRAVEL AGENTS & TRAVEL AGENCIES ARE THE SAME
FACT: Every travel agent is different and has a different area of specialization. It is important when planning a trip to work with a travel agent who specializes in the destination you are thinking about and/or the type of trip it is (adventure, cruise, tour, independent travel, etc.).
MYTH #2: NO ONE USES TRAVEL AGENTS ANY MORE
FACT: Travel agents still sell 51% of all airline tickets; 87% of all cruises; 81% of all tours and packages; 45% of all rental cars; and 47% of all hotels. (source: ASTA-American Society of Travel Agents)
MYTH #3: TRAVEL AGENTS ARE TRYING TO CHEAT ME IF THEY DON’T QUOTE ME THE CHEAPEST PRICE
FACT: Saving money is not about price, but about value. While you might find an itinerary that is a bit cheaper, it might include a whole slew of headaches such as longer waits at the airports or odd travel times. By providing cost-saving strategies, a travel agent will help you find the best value without the sacrifices of a cheap trip.
MYTH#4: IT IS EXPENSIVE TO USE A TRAVEL AGENT
FACT: The planning fee a travel agent charges really depends upon the agent/agency. The average fee is quite marginal and sometimes is applied against your final trip pricing so it is basically returned to you. You can always ask an agent upfront what their fees are and decide for yourself. It is important to remember that many online booking sites, such as Orbitz and Expedia, charge a booking fee as well.
MYTH#5: I CAN EASILY BOOK THE SAME TRIP ON MY OWN WITHOUT USING A TRAVEL AGENT
FACT: Although travel agents have access to all the same outlets you would use to book travel, they also have access to exclusive pricing and package deals not available to the general public. Some websites provide only limited information on specific products, thus minimizing your ability to create your “perfect” trip.
MYTH#6: TRAVEL AGENTS DON’T’ HAVE INFORMATION AS UPDATED AS THE INTERNET
FACT: While some of the information that travel agents have come from the same sources as online booking sites, many travel agents receive daily updates with the newest specials from travel companies that may not be publicized on the internet. Travel agents can also place a call directly to see if they can work out other special deals for you – something an online site can’t do.
MYTH#7: TRAVEL AGENTS ARE A WASTE OF TIME
FACT: A travel agent can actually save you hours of painful research and price comparison shopping. They have up-to-date prices, travel conditions and interesting new activities. Their prior knowledge gives them the upper hand in trip planning.
MYTH#8: TRAVEL AGENTS HAVE LOST THEIR CLOUT
FACT: Travel agents book cruises, tours, hotels and activities every day. The companies providing these services to the agents know that there is a potential to receive hundreds of guests in the future or none at all. So while you may hear “sorry we are booked” when doing it yourself, the travel companies are likely to make an exception for the travel agent to insure receiving more business from them.
MYTH #9: TRAVEL AGENTS CAN ONLY BOOK AIR & HOTEL
FACT: Travel agents work with a myriad of travel companies including cruise lines and tour operators as well as airlines and hotels and can arrange ground transportation, personalized tours, exciting activities and travel insurance in addition to the basic services they provide. They are also excellent sources for good restaurants, sites to see and tips on what to pack.
MYTH#10: TRAVEL AGENTS ARE BEING REPLACED BY THE INTERNET
FACT: Technology cannot replace the personal touch. While the internet is a valuable resource, it cannot replace the expertise, guidance and personal service a travel agent offers. They are not an anonymous website, an impersonal voice hundreds of miles away or toll-free number; they are a local business – your neighbor.
Navigating travel deals and steals can be overwhelming; that’s why turning to a travel agent can make a difference!