Why use a travel agent to plan your vacation?
If you love to travel you know how easy it is to book your trip online. After the kids go sleep you get on the computer, do a few hours of research, convince your significant other about the trip, then book it. The company sends you an email that you are confirmed and you get so excited. You feel a sense of relief now that you have planned the vacation. What happens next?
What if you have questions, who do you call? Maybe you go online and do a couple more hours of research until you get frustrated then find a Facebook Group to ask questions. You post your question and get 150 different comments with some people even arguing with each other through their comments. You still don’t know the answer to your original question, and you may now even have more questions than you had before. If only there was someone to help you with all of this? Wait, there is…a travel agent!
Let’s be honest, WebMD is great for narrowing down your symptoms to possible 10 different things. However, when it comes to wanting to know what is really going on with you, you go to an doctor. Why? Because you like having someone who knows your medical history and will be honest with what you truly have. The same holds true when using a travel agent. You can do all the research online you want, but when it comes down to booking that all-inclusive or the right cruise line, don’t you want to talk with someone who actually knows what they are talking about?
It is a travel agents’ job to help you with narrowing down the best cruise line for your family, or the best resort at Disney for your family. It is their job to be there to answer questions for you when you have them. It is their job to help you plan and book all components of a vacation that you need such as flights, accommodations, tickets for tours, rail, transfers, travel protection, etc.
So how do you find a travel agent? The best way to find a travel agent is to ask friends and family if they have ever used a travel agent and what they thought of them. Referrals are always the FIRST best option. Next, search on the internet for a travel agent near you who possibly specializes in where you want to go. That’s right, not all travel agents help with planning everywhere in the world. Finding a travel agent who specializes in the destination you are going to will make the planning so much easier, and they will have great tips on things your family might like. Don’t be afraid of the “Home Based” travel agent. Just because a travel agent does not have a brick and mortar to walk into doesn’t mean they aren’t really good at their job. A home-based agent may respond to emails quicker, take phone calls at night, and may be available on the weekends.
How do you know if the travel agent will be a good fit? This is a great question! Consider asking a few questions to make sure that the travel agent is a good fit.
- Ask the travel agent if they have ever been to the destination. If not, how many vacations have they planned for families to this destination?
- You want to make sure you get someone who is knowledgeable about the destination. This gives you a good understanding of what to expect, if there are passports or visas required, or vaccinations. When someone is knowledgeable they will also be able to tell you how far the beach is from the hotel, or walking distance to the nearest cathedral, or an amazing tour that you didn’t even know existed!
- Ask the travel agent what their hours are?
- You want to make sure you know the hours of the travel agent so you can plan time to talk with them. If they converse through email a lot, ask them how quickly they respond to emails. If you can only talk/meet on the weekends, ask if they work on weekends.
- Ask the travel agent how long they have been a travel agent?
- This will give you a good gauge of the knowledge of the travel agent. If they have been a travel agent for 5 or more years they likely have a very good amount of product including all-inclusive, cruise line, etc, destination, and client feedback to help make your vacation amazing.
- How do I get a hold of you if I have additional questions?
- If you are using travel agent at a brick and mortar then you will mostly be able to get a hold of them when the place of business is open.
- If you are working with a home-based travel agent their hours may be more flexible, but they my still have set hours and then take appointments. If you work during the day and can’t get into a brick and mortar travel agency, then working with a home-based agent may give you more flexibility in planning with them.
- How did you become a travel agent?
- This is great question to help you as the consumer weed out those who are travel agents full-time or even part-time versus those who do this as means to just get travel discounts. If someone brags about the amount of travel perks they get being a travel agent, they typically will not have much experience booking travel for others. If they are only in it for the discounts then this is a BIG RED FLAG!
- Have you gotten extra amenities or discounts for your past clients?
- This is a great question as many travel agents are part of a larger community that gives them access to various amenities at no cost to you. Some things that travel agents can get include cruise onboard credits, free excursions, free cocktail hours, free hotel upgrades, free car rental upgrades, and the list goes on.
This is just a small but inclusive list of questions to ask a travel agent to make sure they are a good fit when helping plan your vacation. You really want to make sure that you get the best VALUE for your money. Afterall, you have been saving for quite some time to take this vacation so you make to make sure you get the most for your money.
NOTE: Travel Agents are not always about getting you the BEST DEAL EVER! A travel agent’s job is to help you again, get the most value out of your vacation with your budget. After, Value will always make the most memorable vacations and when a travel agent does that for you , you will remember that over and over again. Feel free to check out Travel Agents Available in Pittsburgh that will help your needs at Pittsburgh Top Agents or Life is Better Traveling which has 2 of the top 5 agents in Pittsburgh on Travel Leaders.