I spent the weekend working a travel agent booth at the LA Times Travel Show and these were the top two questions asked, “Are travel agents back?” and “Why should I use a travel agent instead of booking my own trip online?” Questions we’ve heard over and over.
To answer the first question, YES, travel agents are back. We actually never went away, though we have had to change the way we operate. It’s true, many store front agencies have closed, and some agents have gone on to do other things, but there are many who are still at it and have become independent contractors. You may not hear about them as they don’t have large advertising budgets to let you know they’re there, but they are there. And, the resurgence of travel agents has been in the news, too. Just last week, USA Today ran the article, “Travel agents back in demand.” (The Washingtonian and Time also have articles about the “return” of the travel agent.)
As for why you should use a travel agent, there are many reasons, but here are just a few:
- Travel Agents save you time and help you avoid headaches
- They offer personalized service
- Travel Agents have access to information and specials not available to the public
- They can help guide you through the requirements of travel (needing Visas, etc.)
- Travel Agents are the best resource for group trips
I believe the honeymoon period for booking online is over. There will always be those who want to do their own research and book online, and that’s fine. However, many people, who have booked their own trips online, found it was not what they were expecting.
We asked several of those who asked us why they should use a travel agent what their experiences had been. One traveler answered he’d never book internationally on his own again. He booked his own trip to Costa Rica and it was a mess. Even with doing research, he hadn’t realized how far some of the activities/excursions were and what the roads were like.
Ultimately, it comes down to what each person is comfortable with. Travel agents are out there and willing to help.
How will you book your next vacation? If you decide to book it yourself, I’m curious to know why. Please let me know in the comments below. If you’re looking for a travel agent, contact me!