LA Travel ShowI 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:

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!



29 Responses

  1. I was devastated when my favorite travel agent closed her doors! It was so great to just call her up and say, “Jane, this is where I want to go and this is when I want to go. I want an aisle seat and no layovers.” And boom! She’d do all the work and call me back with my options. So from my standpoint, I surely hope travel agents are coming back. I’ve missed them!

  2. I prefer to book through an agency! they have details and experience I don’t. Unless the fees are unreasonable, I prefer to pay a bit more and have my trips handled professionally!! great article! P

  3. My last trip that I went on involved going to get discount tickets online. I also didn’t know that the airline could reject them. The day before the trip I didn’t have a ticket and paid a fortune to get there. If I had an agent, that never would have happened and I bet they could have gotten me the same deal. I agree that the honeymoon period is over. People still need them, especially when things like this can happen.

  4. I’ve never used a travel agent, but I would definitely use one for an international trip. My boyfriend and I have been talking about visiting Canada and I would definitely want to consult a travel agent for that trip!

  5. This was funny, because as I was reading your first paragraph, I was like… what do you mean coming back, never thought “travel agents left” in the first place. Just the economy might have moved them into their home for less overhead but I have met plenty.

    I think that travel agents would know more about the best times to travel, fly or what trip (inclusive) packages would be better than buying ala carte. I just wish I had the money to test that out! lol
    Good post!

  6. I’ve been curious— can a travel agent be of help when your plane is re-routed and the airline can’t offer you a satisfactory flight out— can a travel agent help you avoid sleeping in an airport overnight, that sort of thing? I’ve never used a travel agent, but then again I rarely travel. My trips have been super straightforward. But if we ever get to take a real vacation and need to coordinate plane and hotel and rental car and passports, I know I’ll need one!

    1. It depends on the circumstances. Take the Polar Vortex that’s hit this year. Based on the number of flights cancelled/people stranded and the number of hotels around the airport, we can’t guarantee you’ll get a room vs sleeping at the airport as there are only so many rooms available. If it’s something else, say a mechanical issue or your plane didn’t come in for various reasons, then yes, we can help with that. We’ll be here to help when you’re ready!

  7. In this case, I’d say, leave it to the experts. Although I want to research new places on my own, I definitely want the best possible outcome for the vacation. Unless I am very familiar with the destination, probably best to be assisted by agents, at least on my end.

    1. We’d rather work with someone who knows where and when they want to travel as opposed to someone who says “Italy this summer, but I’m not sure where.” Italy has a lot of places to visit…if you want Venice in early June and I pick Rome in August, it’s a much longer process.

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