I am happy to report that the news of the death of the travel agent has been greatly exaggerated. Forbes, Fortune, and Entrepreneur have all said as much in the last few months. Besides full service agencies like ours, there are tiny niche dwellers popping up, too, as in this story about an agency that specializes in booking you for a year working in different countries around the world, or this one about the new 'surprise' travel trend where your agent books a trip for you and you learn the destination on the way to the airport (yes, we can do that for you, too, if that's your thing).
While consumers may go directly to their supplier of choice for simple trips, many have found that they enjoy working with an expert, and particularly for more complex itineraries and groups that really allow a seasoned professional to shine. Some have been burned by one of the large online discounters and want a human connection to help sift through the mountains of choice. Some have been affected by supplier glitches such as Delta's recent network disaster that delayed travelers for up to three days, and learned the true value of a friend in the business.
There are so many choices available today, and not all are good fits for your lifestyle. As in, the photo above may not be what you hope to find for your 'rustic getaway', but your travel agent could have helped you avoid that. Like finding a good mechanic, once you find the right agent for you, you don't want to give them up.
2. Access to Unpublished Sales
Through their parent agency relationships, independent agents can have access to hidden sales not accessible to the public, whether a few dollars off, an upgrade, or a spa or onboard credit.
3. Access to Hidden Inventory
Suppliers often hold back inventory at peak times for their best clients, which agents may be able to get released for you. Between our affiliate relationships with vacation.com and American Express Travel Services through Avoya Travel, we may be able to access 'sold out' inventory.
4. They Save You Time
Whether it's avoiding the 'analysis paralysis' from an overwhelming array of online information, or taking care of the back end to get you out of a travel jam, a good travel agent will save you many stressful hours.
5. They Save Your Sanity
Refer to Numbers 1 and 4, above. Bad choices can run the vacation you've been waiting a whole year for.
6. They Keep Track of Things for You
Ever accidentally delete the email with your flight details or forget to renew your passport before a big trip out of the country? A good travel agent can help you with details and reminders. And if you want to travel with a large group of friends or multi-generational family members, this service is truly priceless.
7. The Service is Already Paid For
99% of leisure travel agent income is paid by the suppliers, who charge you the same price whether you book with them directly, with an online mega-agency that has 60% employee turnover, or with our family owned small business, that has affiliate relationships for big agency leverage, but assures you a dedicated agent who knows your name and will take your call. And call you back. Because they follow through for you.