6 Reasons You Need A Travel Agent
According to PhoCusWright, about 35% of those booking travel offline do so because they want personal service. Here are six other reasons you might consider using a travel agent/adviser:
1. You’re not a travel expert.
With their training — and being well-traveled themselves — good travel advisers can offer you options you might not have considered. Some travel advisers are generalists; others specialize in niches, such as cruises, or in multigenerational group travel or in particular geographic destinations. If you book a cruise through an agent, he or she is likely to be familiar with various lines, sailings, cabins and excursions. Some agents even have subspecialties, such as riverboat cruising.
2. You want to get it right.
Some trips are more complicated than others. For example, foreign travel is more complex than traveling to the next state. Or sometimes the stakes are too high to make a mistake when you are planning a big trip to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary or a trip that involves coordinating itineraries with friends or family members. Even on city tours or shore excursions, an agent may be able to point you to the most knowledgeable and English-proficient guides.
3. You don’t have advisers’ money-saving connections.
Travel agencies have consolidated and banded together into large consortia, affording them unusual leverage to negotiate with travel suppliers on behalf of their clients. For example, Virtuoso, one of the largest networks, (Signature Travel Network and Ensemble Travel Group are others) encompasses 340 travel agencies employing 8,900 travel advisers in 20 countries. With $12.5 billion in purchasing power, Virtuoso advisers are able to secure hotel upgrades, rooms with the most desirable views or extra amenities like complimentary breakfasts and spa credits. As a client of a network, you are not only treated like a V.I.P., but benefit from these no-cost perks.
4. You don’t have time to waste.
Researching and organizing a trip takes time, patience and perseverance. Users of the website GetHuman.com (which offers tricks and shortcuts to reach various types of overwhelmed call centers) report the average wait time to get American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United on the phone as 14.3, 14.9 and 13.5 minutes, respectively — under ordinary circumstances.
“In cases of major storms, during the holidays, and even when company websites crash, we see a huge influx of users trying to reach the airlines by phone. Wait times can be well over an hour, if the user gets through at all,” says Adam Goldkamp, COO of GetHuman.com.
5. You want a safety net in case things go wrong.
Travelers realize that even after a trip is planned, things don’t always turn out exactly as expected. A flight is cancelled, a piece of luggage gets lost, a passport is pilfered or a grandchild falls ill with a high fever on foreign soil. When “stuff happens,” it is reassuring to have someone you can count on to resolve problems. You don’t want to be the one hanging on your cell phone to rearrange a flight. Many travel advisers offer clients 24/7 backup by phone and email.
6. You want a bespoke trip.
“What really sets a true luxury travel adviser apart are the little things that are unexpected,” says Shawna Huffman Owen, a Virtuoso advisor associated with family-owned Huffman Travel Ltd. “We tailor-make experiences like arranging scavenger hunts for families in The Louvre or helping older travelers who need baggage assistance on trains. We create something that can’t be ‘Googled’ — a personal experience,” she says.
The Bottom Line
Travelers need to do some homework to find an adviser who meets their needs, presumably based on some mix of chemistry, experience and cost.
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