The Travel Agent is Alive!
I am going to answer all those questions that we commonly get asked…
John, did you know that unlike the caveman, the travel agent is not extinct? I hear this all the time, “I thought travel agents were extinct!” We are here to stay and becoming larger in numbers. Home based travel agents are popping up everywhere. Some people think it will be an easy way to make money and get into this profession for all the wrong reasons. I always tell anyone I meet, “If you have a travel agent you like, don’t let them go because good travel agents are hard to find.” So the question becomes, if you aren’t booking with a travel agent/consultant, then WHY NOT? Here are some common questions my team of consultants and myself here when people find out what we do and our honest answers:
Why should I book with you because I can do it online?
- This is a question we often encounter. When looking at deals online or pricing shopping for your next vacation be sure that it is an apples to apples comparison.
- When booking online beware of the various “Hidden Fees” from the major online companies.
- You can book online. Sometimes travel agents will not be able to beat the PRICE available online but please make sure that you are aware that if something goes wrong while you are on the vacation, you do not have an advocate or voice to better or fix the problem.
- When booking online make sure you understand the Terms and Conditions of cancellations and refunds. It can become very confusing and you may have to pay heavy fees to change your itinerary in addition to any fees you must pay the resort, airlines, hotel, train, cruise line, etc.
What should my travel agent being doing for me?
- Travel agents should be doing all of the work for you. They should be comparing different resorts, cruise lines, hotels, airfares, etc. We will NOT always be the “best deal” but we should always be getting you the best VALUE!!!
- Your travel agent should be available to talk with anytime you need them. Automated systems are fine as long as you get to talk with someone.
- Your travel agent should have all your details on hand so when you book with them they know exactly what you want.
- Your travel agent should keep you updated on any and all changes to the itinerary including air or train departure times, resort or hotel renovations, cruise line issues.
- Your travel agent should take care of any cancellations and refunds if for some reason you would have to cancel.
- Your travel agent should send you all your documents either via mail or email.
- Your travel agent should call you a few days before you leave for your vacation to make sure that you have everything you need and update you on any last minute changes.
Are travel agent service fees common?
- Yes! Travel agents are providing a service to you. They are experts in their field or niche and this type of expertise is what you are need to make the most out of your vacation.
- Most chain travel agencies and online travel booking engines charge fees. You are paying for the computer to book your vacation with little to no understanding of what you are looking for out of your vacation. Instead, work with a travel agent who really knows your vacation needs.
- Most travel agents charge a fee that is reasonable to the amount of work they will be doing for you. Some travel agents have a flat service fee that can be upwards of $500 per person going on the trip. These fees are usually associated with high end luxury travel that requires a lot of personalization.
- Group travel fees will also vary. Again, a lot of work can be put into putting together an itinerary for groups so the fees may be more.
Don’t travel agents make commission, so why the service fee?
- Yes, travel agents do make commission from suppliers and vendors as a thank you for referring clients to their establishment. Service fees are for the many hours a travel agent is researching so they can put together an amazing itinerary, answering questions from you and the supplier, and the many phone calls to suppliers to get you the best price and amenities. .
- If the vacation is cancelled by the client, the travel agent may not be paid commission. The work was done but the travel agent did not get paid. Most people don’t work for free so travel agents charge service fees to ensure they get paid for their work.
What if I don’t like my travel agent, can I leave?
- Absolutely! If your travel agent is NOT listening to your needs or wants for your vacation drop them immediately and move onto someone else.
- Even if you have booked a vacation, you can switch travel agents. Most bookings are transferable as long as you consent to the booking being transferred to the new travel agent.
- Bookings cannot be transferred if full payment has been made, which is usually 60 to 90 days prior to departure. If you are unhappy early on then don’t wait to change!
I have to cancel, who do I call?
- Your travel agent. You don’t have time to be calling every supplier to cancel your trip or you can’t. This is why you have a travel agent. Peace of mind knowing that it will all be taken care of and your refund is on the way, of course if you bought travel insurance.
Congratulations to Mary!
She recently earned the distinguished Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designation from the Travel Institute, the travel industry’s oldest education organization. She completed a comprehensive exam-based training program that demonstrates extensive industry knowledge and experience, and she must continue to fulfill stringent education credit requirements each year.
Have a Great Week!