Is the Age of the Travel Agent Dead?
Should you use a travel agent? Heck yes! I love the internet, but there’s something to be said for talking to an expert. For all the ways the internet has positively changed the travel industry, I’d argue that the sheer volume of information makes trip planning a lot more overwhelming. Spending hours online reading traveler reviews can’t replace the guidance, care and personal service of a good travel agent. That’s why I love AAA Travel. These travel experts will design a trip that perfectly fits your specific needs.
In a nutshell, a travel agent provides value by helping consumers cut through the clutter. They provide travelers with a unique and personalized experience. Working with a AAA travel agent means you get the inside track from someone who has spent years building relationships within the industry. Studies have shown working with a travel agent saves travelers over three hours of time spent planning per trip. Eureka! Now I have time to get a haircut! Travel agents are known for their ability to put together the impossible—a vacation that fits needs, wants and budgets. There’s the added security of an expert in your corner when things go awry. For example, dealing with cancelled flights, rebooking hotels or making sure you have a plan in case the storm of the century hits. A travel agent acts as your personal advocate if things go wrong or services haven’t met your expectations.
So, how do you find a good travel agent? Talk to friends and family! See if they’re working with someone they love. You can also schedule a call or a meeting with your local AAA branch.
And when you do meet them, ask questions like:
- What is the agent’s area of expertise? Some agents specialize in Europe or safari, others cruise and the Caribbean.
- What is your personal travel history? Find out how much “boots on the ground” experience this agent has.
- Have you visited my travel destination?
- How much experience do you have booking travel and excursions to this area?
I know you want to ask: how much is this going to cost?
Using a travel agent can actually help save money. Travel agents’ pay structures vary, but most of their income comes in the form of some base pay + commission—which is paid by vendors, like hotels, airlines or rental car companies. Some travel agents do charge a nominal fee for their services. However, it can often be more than made up in the savings and added value. In the case of AAA, most branches offer free trip planning services to members, as an added benefit of your membership.
You may think an agent who is commissioned by a third party is not working in your interest. On the contrary, it’s that agent’s hard-won relationships with the travel industry that you are benefitting from. Agents receive special access to deals that you can’t find online. In addition to exclusive pricing, this could mean upgrades in a room, a free spa visit, included breakfast or any number of amenities that will be passed down to you, at no extra cost.
It’s also worth noting that agents wouldn’t survive without repeat business and referrals.
A good agent will work extra-hard to get to know you and learn your travel style. They want to create the trip of your dreams so you’ll want to work with them again (and tell all your friends and family).
My advice? Consider bringing a travel agent into your life.
The trips we take with our families and friends are becoming too few, and therefore, far more important. When we do all finally manage to find time to get away with one another, it will be wonderful peace of mind to know you are in good hands. All you have to do is enjoy your trip with the ones you love.