Do travel agents really save people any money? Before I became an agent, I thought that travel agents just added extra costs onto my vacation. I’m spending my hard earned money on relaxing so I don’t want to pay someone extra money for booking my travel when I could use that money for an extra night’s stay or another Michelin star restaurant experience. After looking into it more, I realized that this is a myth. The reality is that travel agents save people more than they realize and that the commissions they get paid have nothing to do with charging you extra. I know what your thinking,
“It’s too good to be true!
I can have my cake and eat it too?”
I’m hear to say, “YES!” That is exactly how it works. Below, I’m going to tell you some insider secrets about how travel agents save you money … and how in that process, they’ll still make ends meat without charging you any extra or taking away your extra vacation perks. Here’s what you’ll read below:
Commissions Are Included Costs
You already pay commissions, whether you know it or not. Commissions are built in costs for EVERY booking—every hotel room, tour group, cruise, etc.
**Wait, you’re lying to me!**
I promise you that I’m telling you the truth.
Every single booking already includes commissions in the original costs. If you decide to use the host company, they pockets all the money. If you decide to use a travel agent, the agent gets those commissions. Believe it or not, if the commissions are not included in the original price then the agent does not get commissions. There are some places like domestic flights, certain tour groups, and some companies that just do not pay any commissions.
So you know I’m not just holding back information or lying to you, there are travel agencies that charge automatic fees for non-commissioned bookings. I have seen it as a one-time cost between $20-$50. The times I’ve seen or heard of agents using this “fee” is when the agent knows that they are saving the client money on their overall trip and can therefore justify the added costs for their time and effort.
So, just how much money do these built-in commissions cost you? Commissions can typically range from 5% to 20% depending on the company, the partnership between the agent and the company, the type of booking (hotel, flight, tour group, sightseeing), and the size of the group. On average, most commissions are 10%. So for your 6 day trip at $150 per night ($900 total), the commission will typically be $15 per night ($90 total). **Remember, you would be paying the full price of $900 whether it goes the company or your travel agent.**
On average, how much time do you spend researching all the different parts of your trip? Not only doing cost comparing, but looking at the relevant 1 star and 5 star reviews. Not only looking at fun things to do, but researching seasonal events and customs that could enhance your unique experience. On average, it can take someone 10-20 hours to plan out and book their trip. If you make $30/hr, this time just added an extra $300-$600 onto your trip. You save a ton of time by using a travel agent.
This also does not include the time it takes to deal with complications. Recently, I booked a multi-country trip. I booked my clients flights and hotel for over $400 less than he could have book it on his own. I felt really proud of myself! And, he felt really good about the prices I got him (even though I downplayed just how much I saved him).
The next day, the supplier called me to say that the hotel price had gone up another $150 and there was nothing they could do about it. I’m not sure words can imagine the extent of distortion and contortion of my face in that moment. I felt really good about saving my client money and didn’t want to return to him saying I had failed at truly getting him this deal. As his travel agent, I didn’t want his trip to be ruined because he couldn’t spend that $400+ on some great addition to his vacation. In this moment, I did what most travel agents do … I negotiated with the supplier.Do you know how long this took?
After 3 daysand talking on the phone with the supplier for over 4 hours, the price of the trip DID NOT change a dime. I both saved him actual money and 4 hours’ worth of his time.
Saving You from Mistakes
Travel agents save you from making costly and time-consuming mistakes.Travel insurance, visa requirements, country customs and laws, and cancellation policies, it will cost you extra if you make a mistake in one of these areas. Having a travel agent help you navigate all of this could save you big. It sucks having to cancel your trip, especially when you have no travel insurance.
If you don’t have travel insurance, you’re likely to lose most if not all of the money that you invested in your vacation. Some credit cards have travel policies which are a part of their benefits package to you. However, you should know this credit card benefit is being discontinued by many credit card companies. Also, you need to remember that in order for you to qualify for this benefit, if your card still has this policy, you need to purchase the vacation with that specific credit card. I have known travelers to cancel their trips and denied the benefits from their credit card company because they paid with a different card that did not include this perk.
If you happen to have insurance, you know that dealing with insurance companies takes a long time. With the relationships already established, travel agents can save you more time and frustration when and if you need to cancel your trip for some reason.
Agents Perks & Discounts
Travel agents, at least good ones, don’t give you a cheap price on a vacation; they get you a GREAT DEAL! Suppliers give travel agents good perks and then the agents pass them onto you.Some hotels will provide a travel agent free rooms if they book a certain amount of nights with their hotel. For example, one hotel group gives out 1 free night for every 7 nights booked at their hotel. If there is a group that needs 5 rooms for 5 nights (a total of 25 nights), the agent will receive 3 nights free. Some agents keep these perks for themselves so they can test out the merchandise. Some agents pass these savings on to their clients. (Most times, agents will do a mixture of both: keeping some perks for themselves and passing on the savings to their clients.) In this circumstance, an agent could give those 3 nights to a VIP client, give them to a charity, or discount that group’s next trip. As travel agents book more travel with the same suppliers, they receive more perks and discounts: free nights, discounts on excursions, free flights, gifts upon arrival, resort credits, and much more. Because travel agents book more travel than you can book on your own, this is a perk that will be impossible for you to get on your own.
Group and Package Deals
Going along with the previous point, travel agents can get you great group and package deals.Whether you already have a group of friends/family or whether you want to join an already existing group, travel agents who specialize in group travel can get your group discounts and deals.
I will actually focus on this subject in more detail in a separate blog. Since it is a specialty focus of Catalyst Travel, I want to spend more dedicated time telling you about how we help you with your group travel and get you the best deals.
Wrapping It Up:
Travel agents can save you a lot of money on your vacations. While it may not be the “cheapest” price, it is the BEST DEAL! While there have been some agencies that have added extra costs to their clients, most agencies and their agents work hard to give their clients the best deal for their money. In many circumstances, a travel agent can get you a better deal than you could get on your own. Ultimately, saving you the extra $$$.
The next article will be:
Travel Agents Benefits and Myths: No One Uses Travel Agents Anymore
In the comments section, I’d love to hear your questions about travel agents that you’d like me to address in our blogs. No question is off-limits.