Forbes magazine did a 3-part article recently on “why use a travel agent.” The opening salvo of “why?” http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2012/01/20/why-you-need-a-travel-agent-part-1/ Author Larry Olmsted put it this way:
…the bottom line is that :
*they know more than you do,
*they are better connected than you,
*they have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise,
*they can often beat any other prices available (even online, yes), and
*after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself or buying insurance.
Having a top travel agent can also make you an instant VIP – free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, cutting lines, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibits, private guides, and cheaper – often much cheaper – premium airfares. Here’s the best part: even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family, and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved money, often a lot of money, thousands of dollars, and in every case, more than paid for themselves.
Larry goes on to suggest not everyone needs a travel advisor for simple trips. He suggests that the benefits are especially good for the more luxurious, expensive, and specialized trips, and that if you need “a cheap flight to Florida to visit family and a night at a 3-star airport hotel,” or are searching for “a bargain-priced, all-inclusive ski vacation or Vegas weekend,” you can do it yourself online. I agree with that ….somewhat.
If you’re looking for the cheapest possible getaway, go ahead – book online. But if you want to know what I, as a travel advisor, might know about that bargain-priced hotel (and maybe why it is bargain-priced), give me a call. A good deal isn’t a good deal if you end up being miserable.
If you are looking for quick and dirty tour operator booking, or a cheap mass market cruise ships, go ahead – book online. But, maybe book it on my travel advisor booking engine (www.vision2000.ca/sheilagh – at least that way, I’m affiliated with the file. If you ever run into issues, I can help you because I can access your booking. After all, only a spider trusts the web. https://www.lushlife.ca/2011/04/only-a-spider-trusts-the-web-but-if-you-book-online-book-my-site-instead/)
If you’re booking a regular holiday, I’ll always let you know where, and when, I can add value. For example, I will not just be available to help should issues arise. But, I’ll also look at travel industry reports on a hotel, and check it against my experience, my colleagues’ experience, and my clients’ experience. I’d rather not rely on consumer online ratings. As Larry notes, consumer online ratings are skewed towards the lower end. Also, they are not impartial. Of course, I have other concerns about online rating agencies. (See https://www.lushlife.ca/2010/06/only-a-spider-trusts-the-web/)
But if you’re booking luxury, you definitely need to involve me. Touching on some of the points in Larry’s article, I can VIP you at your hotel, and I can ensure you get amenities on your cruise. I can book your flight in a premium cabin, or arrange your private jet. I can arrange complex airline routings, or arrange complicated customized itineraries. If you’re going somewhere new, and you don’t know the culture, the best places to eat, or the best things to see, you can give me a call.
I certainly have specialities. I specialize in Disney. (I’m going to WDW with my family for my 20th time in a couple of weeks). I’m also an Anguilla certified connoisseur. I am a graduate of Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, and Oceania Cruises programs. I am a certified Sandals and Beaches specialist, and a Certified Adventure Travel Specialist. I am also a Virtuoso travel advisor, which means I have connections all around the world with the “best of the best” hotels, cruise lines, and onsite destination management specialists. And, I am a Four Seasons preferred partner, a Rosewood elite agent, and a Ritz Carlton STARS agent.
But I’m also a generalist.
I can help plan all vacations. If I don’t have personal travel experience or specialized training with a particular destination, I still have access to information, and connections, that you do not – and through my partnership with Virtuoso, I have “feet on the ground” with onsite destination specialists around the world. (And, of course, I have my Vision 2000 Travel Group colleagues across Canada – so I can draw upon their experience and expertise as well.)
So – listen to the folks at Forbes (and me). Hire an advocate who looks out for you, and who also happens to know more than you. Save yourself the PITA (pain in the a&$) – but also hire the PITA=Power in the advisor! (more on that here https://www.lushlife.ca/2011/12/avoid-travel-nightmares-work-w-a-professional-travel-advisor/ and https://www.lushlife.ca/2011/10/part-deux-why-hire-a-travel-advisor-pita-x-2/ and https://www.lushlife.ca/2011/10/why-hire-a-travel-advisor-pita-x-2/)
The question is not “why use a travel agent?” The question is – why wouldn’t you?