Find out how a travel agent can make planning a trip easier for you. Learn their tips and tricks of traveling and why it may be smarter to book through one.
By Janice Hough
These days, many people are surprised travel agents still exist. However, as counterintuitive as it seems, the biggest problem a travel agent in business has is hiring people.
Booking online often appears fast and easy. But, the truth of the matter is that there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and a lot of confusion.
Travel agents know the rules
A good travel agent can help cut through the clutter. Agents still sell a high percentage of airline tickets, cruises and hotel rooms. With those sales come both clout and know-how to make a trip easier and more enjoyable.
For starters, most agents have access to one of the major central reservation systems. These high-powered systems allow agents to have real-time access to almost all airline seat inventories, as well as programs that help find the lowest prices available between points for air travelers.
Airlines all used to pay commissions to agents; these days, commissions are rare. So you will generally pay a fee for a booking. But, even with the fee, the total price may be less than travelers can find on their own. A good way for a price-conscious consumer who is on the fence about buying from an agent is checking online, and then calling an agent and asking if they can beat it, even with the fee. Many agents will be happy to try to compete, so long as you then don’t take the flights they find and book direct.
Travel agents can get special deals
Some agents have preferred arrangements with airlines that can both benefit the agents and consumers. Consumer benefits can range from access to special help desks to things like free seat assignments with airlines that otherwise charge. Other little-known benefits might include even waivers of everything from change fees to missed advance purchase rules.
Travel agent reservations systems have access to rental car and hotel availability, often these days down to the last available room, along with access to corporate rates on both cars and hotels. And, many agents these days either are part of a large agency group or consortium, with negotiated deals on hotel rooms.
Learn more ways a travel agent can help with Travel Rights – a free eBook
Travel agents can help in more ways than you can imagine. Learn them all with Travelers United’s new eBook, Travel Rights.