Are travel agents still a thing?
Many people today think that, since the advent of the Internet and DIY travel sites, agents have become obsolete. Honestly, we thought that ourselves before discovering that, while the old business model of the traditional travel agent has all but disappeared, agents themselves evolved from the order takers and human booking engines of yesteryear into true advisors and experience designers – focused on human relationships and connection while offering value, benefits, with personalized service and care.
Over the last few years, these types of service and relationship oriented advisors have seen growth and expansion as more people are coming to understand the value travel advisors can bring to not just the planning process, but the execution of the trip as well.
And so here are some resources and information to open your eyes to the possibilities… If after looking through these you find yourself still on the fence, we encourage you to give a travel advisor a try and see what it’s all about.
Even Terrell Jones,
former Travelocity.com President & CEO,
uses a travel advisor to plan his vacations.
Top 5 Reasons To Consider a Using a Travel Designer
1. Professional Advice & Guidance
Many people shy away from using an advisor because they like doing their own online research. ASTA’s recent study revealed that for this reason, 81% of travelers don’t think of using an agent. But using an advisor doesn’t mean you have to give up control and involvement in the research process. Rather, a great travel advisor will enhance your research and provide added value. They can help filter out the noise and draw from first-hand knowledge when designing extraordinary experiences and trips for you. In addition, travel advisors make it their life’s work to experience destinations around the world, so you get their knowledge and expertise every time you travel.
2. Global Connections
With travel, like so many other things, it’s not always WHAT you know, but WHO you know. Top advisors have intimate and global connections with hotels, tour companies, and cruise lines to give you access to amenities and upgrades you can’t get on your own. Loyalty programs can be great, and other things you can do yourself, but you’ll never be able to VIP yourself to the same degree that a well-connected advisor can.
3. Personal Touch
A great travel advisor takes a personal interest in you and makes sure your preferences are reflected in every aspect of your trip…every time. And the better your advisor gets to you know, the more they’ll be able to craft extraordinary journeys that are unique to you – something a little beyond the power of the internet alone! It’s all about relationship and trust.
When asked why they don’t use a travel advisor in an ASTA study, 69% of participants said because they believe the best deals are already online. But here’s the rub: You don’t know what you don’t know… What if there ARE better deals that aren’t online? The connections a luxury advisor has access to are often accompanied by unpublished fares, deals, and other exclusive amenities. You’ll never know until you ask! As Warren Buffet said, “Price is what you pay; value is that you get.”
5. An Advocate
When an Icelandic volcano causes a near-global air traffic standstill, or a winter storm slams into the Eastern seaboard for the hundredth time, you can end up spending hours in line at the ticket counter, or on hold with an online travel agency… With a personal travel advisor, you can make one call and let them sort out the details to get you home. When unexpected complications arise, a travel agent continues to give you personal support even while you are away.
When to Use a Travel Advisor
It’s not always about the why…sometimes it’s about when it makes sense to use a travel agent. Living in San Francisco and picking up tickets to visit family in Atlanta? Not a scenario where using an advisor would make a lot of sense. Living in Seattle and wanting to use two weeks of your vacation to explore New Zealand? You might want to make an advisor your first call.
Third-Party Articles & Resources
The Huffington Post: Why Young People Should Use Travel Agents
US News: Why It Still Pays to Book With a Travel Agent
Forbes: Why You Need A Travel Agent (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)
TravelPulse: ASTA Unveils New Survey Showing Value of Using Travel Agents
IndependentTraveler: Why You Still Need a Travel Agent
MarketWatch: 4 Cases Where Professional Expertise Beats DIY Travel Planning
Sources: “Value of Travel Agents” study by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)