Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travel Agents-Pros and Cons

That time of year has come for my honey and me to take our much loved vacation to Jamaica. We stopped by our local travel agency, expecting to make our travel arrangements through Donna, our reliable long term agent.  Much to our surprise, we were told that Donna no longer worked for the agency. We left the office, totally stunned and faced with the decision-travel agent or the DYI approach.

After trying the DIY approach to our upcoming trip, I decided to use a travel agent again. It worked for me in the past, with pleasing results. The American Society of Travel Agents are always trumpeting their folks, so I chose an agent that sported the ASTA logo in her ad.

Here are some of the reasons to book travel arrangements through a travel agent:

  • You can spend hours on line searching for deals on flights and hotels, bouncing from one website to another in pursuit of the perfect price.
  • Using a travel agent allows you to avoid the hassle.
  • The right travel agent will enlighten you about trip options you may not be able to find online.
  • Flawless travel plans lie in the details, and travel agents are experts at handling those details.
  • Despite extensive travel planning, you might encounter some bumps on your trip. Having a travel agent handle them for you may make your travel experience less stressful.
  • When any component of your travel plans collapse, your agent  is accountable to help you try to set things right. If you've made the arrangements yourself, you're up the creek without the proverbial paddle.
  • Travel agents earn their keep by doing the work you don't have time to do. (How much is your time worth?)
  • Travel agents routinely visit exotic locales and new resort areas. (Booking a location that hasn't completed its plumbing installation or has continuing construction can ruin your vacation.)
  • Travel agents can assist in booking sensible flight times, the fewest connections, and shortest overall travel time possible.
  • Working with a travel agent means no hours on hold, no endless web surfing, no hassles-just a quick phone call and your travel package is shortly ready of pick-up at the office or available via your email box.

You'll want some information in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest. A good travel agent will answer your questions honestly and without resistance. Understanding whether the agent applies a surcharge to your purchase, and if so, the amount charged allows you to decide if they are worth the small fee charged for the work that they do. Find out if the travel agent is paid to steer clients to to a specific airline, cruise company, hotel or car rental agency.  Do they routinely work with vacation package companies?  Does the price quoted include all taxes and other charges? If you do your home work to find a "good travel agent", you won't regret it.

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