In the age of technology, booking trips online is an easy choice for travelers. And yet the business of travel agents in the United States soared last year—ASTA reported grow 12% in 2015.
Here are 10 reasons that help explain why that is, from a customer’s perspective.
1. Accountability A travel agent’s job is on the line with every trip. Travel agents have a boss to answer to—or they are the boss—and they are a real person clients can speak with to work things out.
2. Knowledge Travel agents have been doing the job for years and know all the ins and outs. Traveling to Europe for the first time? Instead of deciding where to go based on anonymous comments on a website, speak to someone who does this for a living and knows what they’re talking about.
3. More for your money When booking an expensive trip, travelers want to see everything and experience the best a city has to offer. A travel agent can ensure travelers dollars go a long way—and make sure they don’t miss that amazing restaurant down the street, or the special event going on the day their in town. A travel agent knows where to go and when.
4. Setting an Itinerary While some people enjoy “just winging it,” a travel agent can give a clear-cut schedule of what will be happening on a day-to-day basis, and keep clear records of everything that is included in the trip.
5. Budgeting A travel agent can help map out exactly how much a trip will cost, so there are no surprises. Does that excursion on Monday include lunch, for example, or do you have to buy your own? Does it pay to take the drinks package on the cruise ship, or pay for the excursions in advance? A travel agent can guide you and save you money.
6. Insurance Things happen. A travel agent can offer insurance in a number of ways, from guaranteeing that the hotel is safe and the company running the excursion won’t rob a traveler, to actually advising on which insurance policies are needed, from trip cancellation to medical emergencies. They also insure that travelers will have the correct travel documents, so they don’t end up missing their plane or cruise. And when things do go wrong, travel agents have the resources and the contacts to get travelers to the head of the line.
7. Resources At the touch of travel agents’ fingertips they have resources a traveler simply does not. Yes, we have the internet, but there is so much still left unknown, especially in places that are undiscovered.
8. Exclusivity Let’s face it, we all want to be a little bit different. A travel agent knows the new destinations and the new places in them —and often they can get their client in. Through their partners, they also often get freebies for their customers that range from a free drink to an exclusive admission to a hot event.
9. Time savings Spending hours and weeks researching the perfect trip can take up a ton of time during a busy work week. Travel agents will spend a little time getting to know their clients and what they are looking for, and then put together an entire vacation customized for them.
10. Leverage Can’t book a room at a place you really want? Had a last minute addition to a trip but all the rooms are booked? No problem. Travel agents spend years developing long-term relationships, and travel companies understand how important their repeat business is. Travel agents have leverage with most hotel companies and resorts, and they are more likely to get what they want than a single consumer.
In short, if you have never visited a travel agent, you are missing out on a chance to save time and hassles and aggravation—and often, money as well.