When to use a travel agent
It’s an assumption you’ve heard before: Travel agents are a dying breed. Many people presume that the rise of do-it-yourself booking engines like?Travelocity.com?andExpedia.com?all but wiped out travel agencies — Yahoo recently declared a career as a travel agent a?”dead-end job.”?But that’s not necessarily the case. Travel agents still have their place: In fact, members the?American Society of Travel Agents?book more than 144 million vacations a year, and ASTA reported more than $17 billion in revenue for 2012.
In an attempt to change consumers’ views, John Pittman, a vice president at ASTA, said the society prefers to use the term “travel professional.” This term describes the profession more broadly as today’s booking agents do more than act as the go-between for travelers, airlines and hotels. Travel professionals now work across multiple platforms (even using DIY sites) to help clients book a wide variety of vacations. “The truth is, travel agents have adapted to the changing environment, and they are relevant and they are meeting a consumer need,” Pittman said.
Jeff Klee, the CEO of DIY-booking website?CheapAir.com?seems to agree: In June the site announced it would begin offering every customer who purchases a plane ticket access to a CheapAir.com travel adviser who can be reached directly by email or phone. The adviser can help you make modifications to your booking, deal with trip delays or cancellations, or organize additional elements for your booking, like car or hotel reservations.
Even still, there are certain instances where it’s more beneficial to book with a traditional travel agency rather than to attempt to organize a trip on your own. Pittman cites five examples as optimal opportunities to use a travel agent:
In addition to providing some destination-specific advice, travel professionals can negotiate international hotel and flight packages for you to help trim the costs on a trip overseas. Pittman also stressed that things can get tricky when traveling abroad, especially if you’re visiting a nation with complicated visa or passport requirements. Not only can you get a better value when you use a travel agent, but you also have the peace of mind that you won’t get stranded in a foreign country.
You’ve got enough on your plate when it comes to organizing your wedding — let someone else plan the honeymoon. Not only can a travel agent get you discounted rates, but they can use their established relationships to provide you with special honeymoon perks like room upgrades, welcome amenities and candlelit dinners.
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