When it comes to booking your holiday, booking with a travel agent is one of the better ways to go. Especially if you are not used to travelling. Many people believe that it can cost more booking with an agent. Taking the approach to avoid them for this reason. From my experience, I have not found this to be the case. As long as you find the right agent and do some of your own research first.
In the past two years of travelling, I have come to find a balance between working with a travel agent and doing bookings my way. The first trip that I took overseas, I spent hours with a travel agent and booked all of the flights and accommodation with them. While this all worked out well for the trip, I found that it was a little bit inflexible in some ways.
On the other hand, my most recent trip was quite different, I booked some of the flights and a cruise with a travel agent. However, all of the accommodation, and some of the flights I booked myself online. Which was more flexible.
Having travelled on four reasonably decent overseas trips I have experienced both sides of booking with and without an agent and have worked out my balance. Neither one is specifically better than the other. However, it is the way I do it. If I were going back to booking my first trip again, I would visit a travel agent to book the flights and accommodation, just for that piece of mind that all the bookings are complete. Once I knew how to book with a travel agent I was more confident going on to book more myself.
Benefits Of Booking With A Travel Agent
There are quite some advantages to booking with a travel agent, especially if this is your first trip. Let’s have a look at a couple of the benefits; there is possibly even more that I may have missed.
- While you may have an idea of what you want to do, maybe the order you have chosen is not ideal or maybe there is a better option for your itinerary. For my First Trip Overseas finding the right travel agent worked out great and saved me over $500 on airfares, and allowed me to see some additional places along the way.
- If you choose to book everything with a travel agent, they will help to ensure that the dates all work for you. Especially useful, when a flight and time zone change may impact the accommodation night. For example, if you fly out of Brisbane on the 10th heading to Los Angeles you still need accommodation for the 10th in Los Angeles, due to the time change with the international date line.
- You can combine everything on one invoice and in one payment. Rather than having to make payments to three different airlines, and four different hotels. You can do it all with just the one payment to your travel agent.
- Some bookings are just easier to arrange with a travel agent. While it is possible to book things like Round The World (RTW) tickets online yourself, you have to do so within certain boundaries. A travel agent can provide some experience in getting these bookings sorted out with a minimum of problems or even suggest alternatives that could work out better.
The Cost Of A Travel Agent
The cost of dealing with a travel agent is not always that much different to doing everything yourself, and in some cases will possibly save you time and maybe even money.
- Prices that are offered by travel agents in some (but not all) cases are very similar if not the same as making the same booking online. Sometimes even with the potential to save you money. Last year when I booked a return flight to the USA, if I had booked direct with the airline online, I would have paid a $25 credit card fee. However booking direct with the travel agent and paying cash got me the same price as the airfare was with the airline but without the fee.
- While the prices that the travel agent advertise are not always the best prices available, many will offer a price match, for flights, accommodations and tours. While they will not always match on everything, it is always worth doing a little research and taking better prices to them. In saying this you need to make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions. These can vary between agents for price matching, and may not include everything.
Travel agents will organise travel fairs at various times to build attention for bookings. These may focus on a specific area for the following year or be more general in nature. While in some respects, they are a bit of a sales pitch, in some ways as well. If you know what you want to book, do some research before going. Knowing the current prices and options to avoid getting trapped in an average deal.
- There will be representatives from different travel brands, but the bookings will go through one agent. Having many representatives from the various tour companies means that you can get some great specific details. Getting more information than just what is in the brochure.
- Deals are the name of the game at a travel fair. Discounts and bonuses all to try and get you to book on the spot. Watch out for the hard sell with apparent good prices, which may not quite match the current market. It can be well worth knowing what regular prices are like on what you want to do before going along. Because some prices and specials are available one day only, but may not be the best price available. Worst case talk to an agent and express your interest but have them call you back in a few days. The price will often still be on offer in this case, and you have time to do a little research.
Although there are some positives and good reasons to consider using a travel agent, there are also some negatives.
- Terms and Conditions are well worth reading when you are dealing with a travel agent. Depending on the terms of your booking you could end up paying more in change/cancellation fees if something changes. Fees can be compounded if the travel agent adds fees in addition to the travel provider.
- Be sure you are aware of any potential fees and charges. Certain types of bookings can incur a fee, for example booking an airfare internally in Europe, from Australia. Additionally, there could be fees for changes, or cancellations, using a credit card or other services that they may provide.
For your first trip overseas booking with a travel agent can provide some real benefits. Also helping to consolidate the process into one package. On the other hand, if you are travelling internally in your country. I would recommend just doing a little research and booking things yourself.
Some bookings are much easier through a travel agent. Just because they will handle the booking and save you the hassle. There can be some variance from country to country. Such as booking a cruise in Australia is easier through a travel agent as you cannot always deal directly.
In the end, it comes down to what works for you, and what gives you the best outcome. If this information has helped you, why not let me know in the comments below. Also feel free to add any additional points that might be helpful to others making their bookings.