Travel Agent: Myths and Benefits
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?”
If we were going to delve deep into the industry, I wanted to do my research to see if my assumptions were correct. If they were, I wanted to see why people became travel agents and why people would use them. We started our research and began asking a lot of questions. It was at that time that we approached Sally (the owner and operator of Catalyst Travel with 30+ years of experience as an agent) to hear about her experience. We found that there are actually a whole lot of benefits to using a travel agent that we had never known before and that the assumptions we had were merely myths(and not the cool kind of myths like unicorns and elves). I went from being a total sceptic to regretting not having used one for all of my travel before now. When my family and friends asked me why we jumped into this field, I responded by saying that “I was stupid for not using a travel agent in the past!”
In this blog, you’ll see featured articles entitled “Travel Agent Benefits & Myths.” In these articles I will explain some of the myths and benefits of using travel agents by giving you a front row seat into how much work your agent does while setting up a perfect trip for you. (You’ll read about my experience of saving a client several hundred dollars when a hotel wanted to mark up there prices last minute or about the crucial relationships that we’ve built to provide great deals and a customized experience.)
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 $$$.