5 Reasons Not to Use a Travel Agent
This started with an article in Conde Nast last year, but I ran across it again on another blog (thanks Travel Horizons) and thought it sums up the airline ticket issue quite nicely...
A travel consultant is not your best bet if you want...
1. The cheapest options
If your goal is to put together the least expensive trip possible, don't call a travel consultant. While budget travel is the best way for many people to fulfill their dreams of seeing the world, I have no expertise in recommending one 100€ Paris hotel over another. Online forums such as fodors and tripadvisor are ideal venues for feedback from other travelers.
2. Airline tickets only
Because airlines do not generally pay commission anymore, many travel consultants do not even book air. As travel agencies are actually charged a fee to ticket a flight, that expense — along with compensation for the time involved — has to be passed onto the consumer in the form of a service fee. The least expensive way to book air is, first, to use a comparison booking engine such as ITA Software. Research your best options, then book directly yourself on the airline's own website to avoid service fees. I will gladly provide air if you want a hotel + air package to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, the South Pacific, etc., but for airline tickets alone... I don't do air ™.
3. Single components of a trip (e.g., a one-day tour, a restaurant reservation)If you've already booked your own hotel rooms for your upcoming trip, don't call a travel consultant asking for a single restaurant reservation or a suggestion for a one-day tour. There would be a charge for this service. Your best bet: email the concierges of the hotel(s) in which you will be staying.
4. B&Bs or run-of-the-mill hotels (such as those of a mid-priced chain)It's largely economics. B&Bs generally do not pay commissions at all, and you can research and book them yourself online. The commission on a one-night stay at a budget or moderate hotel room does not pay for the time a travel consultant spends researching the possibilities, discussing them with a client, making the booking, invoicing the booking, and then chasing the commission when it doesn't get paid. But most significantly, mid-priced hotel chain rooms are commodity items. There is no added-value that a travel consultant can provide.
5. Redeeming frequent-flier miles or guest points
This is time-intensive work with no commission from the airline or hotel. Do you want to pay a travel consultant's hourly fee to wait on hold?