I am a travel agent, and I am not writing this because of a biased. I am writing this because of my personal need for a travel agent, and why I think everyone should have one!
I have recently said “I wish I wasn’t a travel agent, so I could have a travel agent!” I mean it. Seriously.
Now let’s be clear here. I am not referring to a booking agent over at some online travel company. I am speaking about a true travel agent, a travel consultant. A person, whose profession is to be knowledgeable about travel, and the respective destination or specialty.
I need a travel agent for my own reasons, but here are the top 10 reasons why I think everyone should have a travel agent too!
NUMBER ONE: I just don’t know what to do!
Here is the dilemma I face all the time and the number one reason I feel the constant need for a travel agent; I just don’t know what I want to do. I feel as though I always look at about 10 different itineraries back to back, make comparative spreadsheets, weigh all the pros and cons and make perfectly planned hour by hour itineraries. Then by the end of it all, I just still don’t know. What I need is a person that just tells me what to do, and guide my decision-making. I need someone to say, “you absolutely have to see Varanasi if it means skipping Udaipur”. A travel agent can really compartmentalize your wants, what is most important to your trip, give you insight that you may have not thought of otherwise and rationalize those pros and cons. In essence, sometimes you just need a person to help you deal with those commitment issues.
NUMBER TWO: Do you do your own dental work?
For the most part, when you find a good travel agent, you must remember they are a professional within their field. You have to ask yourself… Do you cut your own hair? Do you do your own dental work? Do you even do your own taxes? Most people don’t unless they are within that field, and if they do, it is probably never done quite as well as the professional. That is the key. Travel agents book travel every single day, not just once or twice a year like most people. Travel agents know more than you, have more experience than you and have far more connections than you and a lot of the time, have also been to a lot more places than you. Get it done right, the first time.
NUMBER THREE: Why do the work when you don’t have to!
This is pretty self-explanatory. Planning a holiday, especially one that is more complex takes a lot of effort. Trust me, I know; I do it every day. So why would you do it on your own! Have someone else do all the research and planning. Hubs, connection points, through fares, married segments…All these things are not for you to be concerned with, after all, that is what travel agents are for. I still wish I had someone do my planning for me. Any takers? Sigh.
NUMBER FOUR: Cheaper than a therapist.
One thing I have learned in the 3 years I have been a travel consultant, is that having clients and booking their holidays is not just about the trip its self. It is about what that trip can mean. What has led to that holiday, all the reasons people just have to get away. As a travel agent I can say I’ve hear more stories than ever before, been given insight on many surprises, been the keeper of deep dark secrets, the moral supporter, a shoulder to cry on and sometimes just the person that will listen to the family gossip. A travel consultant can be more than just the person that books your holiday. A travel agent can really be part of your life, and as I said, it’s cheaper than therapy, I know because sometimes I feel I should be charging by the hour.
NUMBER FIVE: The priority phone number.
Ever book something online and you had to make an adjustment and then you waited on hold for 2 hours? Well you see, when you book with a travel agent, that all goes away. Your travel agent typically can be reached right away, or at least a direct colleague that can look at your file. Then you can go on with your day as they do all the required work and make all the appropriate calls. These travel agents also have priority phone numbers that will help them get through in half the time that you ever will, therefore getting all those pesky problems solved faster. So as you have to make it to your Zumba class, or have those silly errands to run, your travel agent can just get it all done. It really is that easy.
NUMBER SIX: Experience
People ask me all the time, “Why should I book with a travel agent?” I find that question to be quite annoying, primarily because I just think it is common sense to use a travel agent. But here’s the thing. The Internet does not give you a better experience than booking with a person, nor does the Internet have experience period. Did the Internet tell you about this cool little café down the back alleyway in Cuzco while you booked? Did the Internet share the experience of actually trekking up to Everest and the difficulty that comes with it? And did the Internet send you a reminder to bring that bug spray before you go? Travel agents come with experience, stories, and advice and maybe they’ve even been there! As easy as booking something online can be, can it really answer all the questions you have?
NUMBER SEVEN: High Five!
You know that time you were super excited you booked that super awesome trip online, and the only person excited for you in that moment was you, because you’re alone in a room, with a screen. Well 90% of the time travel agents are genuinely excited for the experience you are going to have! Share that excitement with someone, because if you sit at home with that sad computer screen, it will never give you a high-five for being awesome for finally taking that dream trip! An agent will.
NUMBER EIGHT: Hey Big spender!
Most trips don’t just cost a couple hundred dollars. On an average day, a trip for a family of 4 will cost about a minimum of $4000, now turn that into a 5 star option and it quickly moves to $6000, now do a more exotic trip half way around the world and you have just turned it into a $10000 trip or more. I am still very perplexed as to why people feel any format of comfort charging a figure like that through an inanimate object. Or for that matter even trust themselves to process it. Are you really willing going to let the web realm handle your money? It truly does shock me most times. I’m still weary of processing that $50 Amazon order let alone a $10,000 holiday booking. Just think about the logic behind that. If this is the way you “save money”, then perhaps you should question the value of that money if you are so easily willing to spend it blindly. But hey, it’s not my money.
NUMBER NINE: Save time!
It takes tons of time to plan a good trip. Of course there are just those quick flights, easy all inclusives that don’t take that much effort. Anything beyond that though, can have so many variables it always takes time to research to make sure you’re getting the best rates and options. Instead of going through twenty different sites comparing endless options, a travel agent will use one live system, that doesn’t give you a price change once you go to pay. Realistically, a lot of the time the price will be the same with an agent, but ever so often agents have access to contract rates that just are not publicly visible. Although not always miracle workers, when you have a trusted agent, you will always get the best rate possible, without even having to search for hours. Get the price you want, without wasting the time to find it.
NUMBER TEN: Let me be your hero baby!
Even a perfectly planned trip can have moments when things don’t go as planned. I plan all my own trips, and even as a professional they don’t always go right. You know, that last-minute snowstorm, a memory slip and an incorrect date being booked. Or my personal favorite: forgetting your travel date and showing up to the airport a day after travelling. Mistakes can happen, and things could go wrong, even to the most experienced traveler. In those moments of panic it is easy to over react and make even bigger errors. Call your travel agent, the voice of reason and the calm through the storm. An agent deals with pretty much any known issue day-to-day. What in the moment might seem like the worst thing that could have ever happened to you, may in fact be an easy fix, or at least a solvable problem once in the hands of an agent. So relax. Your holiday should be easy the minute its booked.