We all enjoy traveling in one way or another. There is always a place that we love to escape to or that we choose to recharge our batteries in. Some of us travel for adventure, others for discovery, others for relaxation, and others for fun. The list of reasons is endless, but what makes your vacation even better is a “no worries hassle free” time. So the big question is how do you book your vacation? Do you trust the internet, do you pick someone else’s brain who has been there and is able to give you some ideas, or do you trust a travel agent to be in charge of everything for you? We live in a fast paced and technological era and there are a gazillion websites that try everything they can to convince you to book with them, but despite all the crazy internet deals, travel agents still exist and I am proud to be one of them.
I have been a travel agent for a year and a half now and I have pretty much heard all the negative comments regarding the industry: we are more expensive than online, we don’t provide all the information required, we don’t have the necessary knowledge (you are the expert not us), you can do the exact same things online, we are “money hungry” and try to scam you in one way or another, we should give you a bigger discount than what you find online and so on. More often than not we may be able to get you a discount or find you a better deal than online, but one thing to remember is that we deal with airlines, tour operators, hotels, travel insurance and so on, all on your behalf so you don’t have to. We have a better relationship with certain suppliers, hence we can get you a great deal, but we are the middle man. We do not set the price! We work for you so you won’t have to spend hours online. We do! (However, consider that as you have a job, this is our job and no one works for free). We also take care of your trip – before, during and after, we wait on hold so you don’t have to and we have personal tips and insights that we can recommend.
But at the same time life is not perfect, and while traveling you are constantly exposed to the unknown. We can’t predict the weather (or control it; it would be awesome if we could), we can’t force you to buy what we recommend, so when you choose to book something we are not too keen on, you have to set your expectations based on the feedback or reviews received; and most of all we can’t control the airlines and the schedule changes or anything else, as we are only humans.
Since I started working as a travel agent I have learned so many things that I wish I knew when I was traveling before, as it would have saved me a lot of time and money, and many headaches. We are provided with great training and useful information and systems. When you walk in we are more than ready to help you have the best time of your life while traveling. No one is perfect and not all travel agents are great at what they do (not pointing fingers just being realistic) but most of the ones I know are very knowledgeable and want to make sure that you will never have to worry about anything if you choose to book with us.
Travel is our passion and our expertise. We are not just a body in a seat booking something for you. We are Travel Consultants ready to listen to you, to recommend you high quality places (or anything else you are looking for), to make sure you have all the proper documentation before you depart, but most of all we are here if you ever need assistance while away or after your return. The travel agency I work for is opening more and more shops and is constantly expanding as we are able to provide you with great service and value. Sometimes we may not be able to provide you with that $700 flight to Europe in the high season and you may be upset or frustrated with that and you resort to booking something online as you found a better price than what we offer; but ask yourself: how many connections do you have? Which airline are you flying with? What flight and connection times, and so on? The price we quote you is attached to a superior product as we want you to have an enjoyable flight. We are travelers too, we have experienced all the things you did and maybe some more, so we will recommend you good quality products as we want you to create great memories while traveling. I am online all the time. I am on social media all the time, I buy things online all the time but I would almost never want to book my trips online. The website can’t tell me I am allowed one free stop over on my way to the destination, it doesn’t have the capability to do an around the world ticket for me (or if it does it is 20% or higher than what a travel agent can find), it doesn’t call me to wish me a great vacation, it doesn’t call me to ask me how my trip was and it certainly doesn’t surprise me in my destination with wine or champagne or a personalize note for my special occasion.
Last weekend our travel agency had a conference and in those two days we spent the majority of our time coming up with strategies and solutions that will make the customer experience excellent and that will bring more value to you, the customer. There are definitely a lot of misconceptions about travel agents in general, and I am well aware that not everyone is upbeat and excited all the time, and you may have had a few not so great experiences while trying to deal with an agency but why point the finger and throw everyone in the same pile? I can only speak for myself when I say that I take my time with your inquiry, I make sure I get you everything you want, I am always trying to get you the best possible deal for the value you are receiving and I guarantee there are many more out there like me (at least another 400 that I know of). So if you do want to give us a try, make sure you keep an open mind and you find someone you could work with, as we are like a doctor, or a lawyer, or a banker…you have to see a few before you decide which one you like or work best with.
So no, travel agents are not dead, very much alive and kicking, and we are eager and happy to open up the world for those who want to see.
- Travel Agents Fight Back, Insisting They’re Not Useless Or Obsolete (business.time.com)