Why Use a Travel Advisor
Today's Travel Agent Awareness Week topic is why use a travel agent? The number one reason I think someone should use a travel professional? To save time! Time is money and people forget that. Let's say we spend 30 minutes on your getting acquainted call going over your expectations, wants and needs. I'll prepare a quote for you, that it takes maybe an hour for you to look at and check reviews on. We make a few tweaks, send your payment and you're done! Even if the first few options don't strike you at all another one is still whittling down your options from 500 hotels to less than 10. So on the outside you've spent 3 hours planning a vacation from start to finish. Guess how much the average consumer spends online booking a vacation? 39! (and that's just an average) At the median household income ($50,500) that's over $900. Some people love to research, others do it because they think it saves them money. As you can see you're better off outsourcing your planning.
The second reason is customizing your vacation. For some a bathtub is a perk for others it's a necessity. Some must have a-la-carte dining 3 times a day and others just need a hearty buffet option on their way out to explore. Everyone is different and every trip is different. Of course people ask their friends, read blogs and reviews to get ideas on their travel. You must keep in mind you need to read these opinions through the lens of your expectations. I chuckle a little in forums when a person asks where should I stay in XYZ when I visit and they get 30 answers, yet no one asks what kind of hotel the person likes or what activities they hate. A person planning a girlfriends getaway will get a recommendation for a resort brimming with kids. Yeah it's a super nice resort in a fabulous location, but not matching a more suitable hotel will leave them with an unfavorable impression of the destination. I've seen umpteen reviews where that happens. RIU for example attracts many European guests. I've seen people go on and on about how 'rude' the guests were and how they will never go back to Playa del Carmen because there were no Americans there. Well, had they just consulted with an agent they could have gone to a resort 2 minutes away that has mostly American clientele. I've run into couples on a ship disappointed that their 2 year old can't participate in the kid's club. (Big sigh) Come on! That is really simple to fix by talking with someone. So maybe you perceive you saved by booking online real quick with that agency that doesn't accept phone calls...but now that your entire week is ruined with dashed hopes of alone time without the baby, is it worth it? Just like anything in life, if you're willing to invest the time you can DIY. The problem is people want the shortcut that's cheap. You'll rarely get that. Otherwise I'd be changing my own oil. Jiffy Lube and car dealerships certainly aren't in danger from losing my business! Taking the time to properly learn and execute car maintenance just doesn't make sense in my life. If travel planning is like that for you, don't feel guilty about using your time wisely.
Lastly, but perhaps most important is having an advocate on your side in case of a problem. Things come up last minute, plans are canceled, weather, flight delays etc. I've done everything from manage resort changes while a client lounges in the lobby to calling family back home on 3 way in an emergency. It's tempting to book my own travel sometimes, but if it's an area outside my niche I don't. Recently I arrived at an airport to find the car rental line an hour long while another company had no wait. We simply called the agency and within 5 minutes we had a new reservation, got out of line and on our way to the car while the first line hadn't even moved. After a long day of travel with a kid that help was priceless!