When I announced to my friends and family that I decided to become a travel agent, most of them were surprised that it was even still a viable career choice! They asked me who is still using a travel agent vs booking online for themselves! But it’s just one of the amazing options for online travel jobs! But, they ain’t wrong. Travel is becoming more prevalent than ever, and with access to the wonderful world of the internet, everyone is becoming their own travel agent. However, I’m here to say that there are still quite a few benefits to using a travel agent in this digital world.
The Main Difference Between Using a Travel Agent vs Booking Online
No matter how, where, or why you book a trip, someone is earning money (commission). If you book straight from the company, the company keeps it (or if you call, the person you talk to gets it). If you book online at a site like booking.com or skyscanner.com, that site makes the commission. And if you book through a delightful human travel agent like me, I/we make the commission. But did you know that sites like Booking, Skyscanner, Expedia, Hotels etc are all in fact “travel agents”? Oh yeah. But here’s the kicker…
*You’re doing all the work*
And that’s fine for some people! Some people (cough cough, me, cough) really love planning and doing research. In that case, I’m going to say something that’s really counter to growing my business… maybe you don’t need a travel agent. This brings me to the main difference between using a travel agent and booking online yourself. It comes down to who do you want to do the grunt work? A travel agent will do the searching for you and present you with options vs doing it yourself has you doing the work.
Are There Any Benefits to Using a Travel Agent?
There are several! Let’s break the benefits of using a travel agent into some categories.
- Experience of the locations
- Experience in planning
- Inside scoop on sales and promotions
As someone who has been to over 70 countries, I can tell you that I know a lot about a lot of places. If you tell me you’re going somewhere, it’s likely that I will have first-hand information for you! I won’t just be regurgitating information from a brochure. Using a travel agent also gets you access to a skill that some people either don’t possess themselves (which is fine!) or they’re just too busy to actually do it–planning. Planning a good trip takes a lot of work. There are tons of minute little details that go into a successful trip, and an agent will take care of most of those for you. All you have to do is choose from options tailored to you.
Agents can’t magically pull sales out of the air, but we do get notifications before sales go live to prepare us. If we know you’re interested in an area, we can pass that information along.
When You Shouldn’t Use a Travel Agent
Really, there are two types of people that are likely to not need an agent’s services. A planner and a non-planner. It’s funny that those two very different personality types can be lumped in together! I view travel planning as a bell curve. To the left are the people that aren’t into planning. They get a general sense of where they go and drift where the journey takes them.
I admit that I’ve taken a few trips like that. It was hard the first time to not have everything all confirmed before departure, but there was a certain sense of freedom when it’s left up in the air. To the far right are the planners. Those are the kind of people that have a good grasp on logistics and organizing it all together. These people don’t get overwhelmed by options, and they love the hunt. Yes, I said hunt. When people ask me how I get my deals, my general answer is, “I spend a lot of time on the internet.” I love the hunt. Hunts for interesting places to see.... hunts for cheap airline prices… hunts for mistake pricing on hotels… hunts on tour sales. I. Love. The. Hunt.
Then in the middle are the types of people that might be forced into either of those roles for whatever reason, but are also just as happy to give up the power. Or the people that don’t even know where to start. Or the people that get overwhelmed with the options. Or the people that have way too much to juggle already to add this to their plate.
Those people… those people need help. In all aspects of our lives don’t we hire others to do actions to which they are more qualified? Or we don’t have time for? All the time. Travel is no different, except you don't actually pay for the service! You'd be paying the same price anyway!
So, which are you?
Agents cost more
Definitely, the biggest misconception about travel agents (I also thought this before I got into the business) is that you have to pay them extra. There are certainly some agencies and agents that bump up the commissions or charge a planning fee but not all.
Like I said earlier, with any booking there is money to be made, so that’s how agents make their money, not from the client!
I want to say that again for the people in the back.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY EXTRA TO AN AGENT!
You can, however, bring back a souvenir if you want :p
All Agents Are the Same
Totally not! We’re people too, and we all have different interests, vibes, experiences, and expertises! Find someone you mesh with well, and your trip will likely be better! It’s really great to develop a relationship with an agent because they get to know what you like and don’t, and each trip will run smoother and smoother!
You Could Miss a Deal if You Don’t Book *Right Now*
Well one, we don’t really keep normal hours, and I’ve definitely booked some trips around midnight, so call away! And two, unless there is a ticking countdown, don’t be pulled in by the Kairos! You almost always have time!
Travel Agents Have to Book Your Whole Trip
Also not true! We can be as involved as you want. It’s your trip! Just want flights? No problemo! Already got the flights on a killer deal, but now need help with where to stay? I’m right here for you! You know you want a tour, but not sure about anything else? Let me give you some options! In conclusion, travel is supposed to be fun, and however you decide to do it is fine! I just hope a misconception doesn't steer you away from using an agent when it might actually be a good fit for you 🙂