Are travel agents worth it?

  • By: Nikita
  • Date: August 26, 2021
  • Time to read: 11 min.

The era of travel agents is back, and it is here to stay. After a long period of being underground in the internet age, travel agents are re-surfacing since 2020. Millennials, with their ‘everything quick’ approach, want to save time, energy, and resources on tasks that can be handled by someone else, and save themselves the hassle. It works exactly like outsourcing. 

As 2020 gave way to new travel opportunities and the world became more accessible post-vaccination, every tourist spot has been overbooked. Travel agents can get you the last-minute bookings, choose the destination, get great deals and save trouble amidst the uncertainties of today’s travel plans. 

If you’re still unsure whether or not you need a travel agent, keep reading to find answers to all your important questions. 

Is it worth it to use a travel agent?

Travel planning is a time-consuming process and even after spending hours browsing on the internet, you may not get what you’re looking for. Travel agents have expert knowledge and up-to-date information about every destination and can get you the best experience anywhere. 

Can we plan a trip without a travel agent? Yes, we can. But a trip with a travel agent is more immersive, experiential, hassle-free, and enjoyable. Here are some reasons you should get a travel agent. 

1. You Get Latest Information About a Destination 

Travel agents have all the latest information about a destination. What is happening and when, what is open and available, the best places to stay, to eat, and to explore. Travel agents can really guide you about a destination and share great insights on what you can do on your trip. For example, if you are planning a trip during the peak season, he can recommend where to get a good deal or how to explore the place while avoiding the crowd. 

In 2021, this information is more important than ever. The Internet is flooded with all kinds of news and information that it can be overwhelming to find the right and up-to-date information about a destination. Travel agents have sources that get them accurate information about a place. 

2. Travel Professionals Provide More Value 

This might be true for luxury trips or specialized tours like cruises or spa tours, but travel agents provide more value to a trip with unique services. Travel agents can get you additional perks on cruises or hotels for the same price and make your trip more memorable. Travel agents can also help you curate special experiences like a honeymoon tour or an anniversary vacation. They can take care of bookings, get you special services in hotels, restaurants and even organize everything for you. 

3. Vacations Don’t Come with a Do-Over 

Every vacation is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience that you save up for, plan for, dream about for months. And getting everything you dreamt of on a vacation makes it all worth it. Travel agents can not only plan a trip well but can be a great backup when things don’t go as planned. In case of emergencies like getting to your destination, returning home, or something else, travel agents can be of great help to get you in and out of a destination. 

Moreover, in the age of information overflow, it is difficult to always find the best of everything in a place. Travel agents can take care of that because they know almost everything about the destination. 

4. They Don’t Cost You Extra 

Many travel agencies don’t charge extra for their services. You pay the exact amount as you would for a direct booking. When you book through them, the vacation supplier pays the travel agents a commission out of their profits. 

Getting a travel agent does not cost you more, but it saves so much more than just money. A travel agent saves your time, energy & resources and creates a perfect travel experience for you at no additional costs (in most cases). 

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5. You Get a Personalized Service 

Travel agents craft every trip according to your preferences. The right professional will carefully plan your trip after listening to your suggestions and requirements to meet your ultimate objectives. Your travel agent might even suggest some activities that you didn’t know about making your experience special and personalized. For example, not everybody wants to go to Hong Kong and go to Disneyland. Travel agents will help you create a customized itinerary to match your ideal vacation dream. 

Is it more expensive to use a travel agent? 

It’s a myth that working with a travel agent will automatically cost you more; most travel agents get paid through commissions from the hotel or outfitter. Yes, some travel agents charge a fee for putting together an itinerary, but most will credit you that fee if you end up booking the trip with them. Usually, travel agents also take care of documentation and visa procedures. They might take an additional fee for that, but it will save you a lot of time and headache. 

Before you book a trip with a travel agent, make sure you know all the potential fees. Do not hesitate to negotiate, travel agents are pretty open to reducing the prices and working within your budget. 

How to Save Money with a Travel Agent

Travel agents often know the insider deals and discounts that you may not know about. He can get you different deals and save you some extra cash on bookings, flights, and even restaurants. Keep reading to know how travel agents will help you save money on your trip. 

1. Travel agent will stay within your budget 

You don’t have to plan a luxury trip with a travel agent. You can give him a budget and he will plan your trip within that budget. For example, if you want to plan a budget trip across Europe, your travel agent will plan an itinerary that you can afford with some tweaks in dates or days. He can also get you budget accommodation options, find free events, and more. 

2. Travel agents give you early bird perks 

Booking a few days in advance on flights or accommodation would not save you anything on your own, but booking early with a travel agent can save you a lot on the costs. You can get an internal discount on the trip cost and additional discounts on early flight booking or hotel booking. 

3. Travel agents can put airline tickets on hold

Travel agents can place holds, lock in prices and reserve your spot free of charge. When you book online, you can’t reserve a seat till the payment is through. If you book with an agent, he can reserve your spot and lock a price for you till 11:59 pm that day. An agent holds your seat and fare without money down, unlike online booking websites that save you a seat after booking. 

4. Travel agents accept payment in installments 

If you’re planning a long trip or an all-inclusive luxury trip, you don’t have to wait till you save up if you’re booking with a travel agent. If you’re booking online, all your payments need to be upfront, but a travel agent will accept payment in installments, even after the trip is done. 

5. Travel agents save costs on documentation 

Travel agents will find you the most accurate information on travel insurance, visa type, immunization regulations, and customs procedures. For example, a travel agent can help you find the right type of visa for a trip and all the information you might need to avoid additional costs or fines. You can also get information on the best place to exchange currency, other specific requirements, and things like applications for national parks. 

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The Disadvantages of Using a Travel Agent 

There are various benefits to using a travel agent, but it is not for everyone. Not all kinds of travelers can work well with a travel agent. For example, if you don’t like to plan too tediously and like surprises on your trip, booking with a travel agent may reduce all the fun for you. If you’re staying in budget accommodations and not looking to pre-plan any activities or transportation, you’re better off booking on your own. Solo travelers don’t generally need travel agents. If you know where to find cheap deals, are open to exploring, and want to keep it casual, travel agents may not be for you. Here are some of the disadvantages of getting a travel agent: 

1. They’re not great for spur-of-the-moment changes

Travel agents may take care of delays and cancelations, but they render moot for last-minute changes or during-trip changes. For example, if you see a restaurant you like, you will have to contact your agent to cancel the reservation for the first restaurant and change it to this one. It can get too much to manage during the trip. With no travel agent involved, you can cancel your reservation or not make one at all. Traveling without travel agents gives you the flexibility to explore a destination without strict plans. 

2. You miss out on non-traditional travel components

Travel agents plan your itineraries for all days during the trip. All the booking and reservations are done according to the plan. Travel agents stick to traditional booking options like hotels for accommodation, and well-known restaurants for food to create a perfect experience for you. But you miss out on non-traditional travel components like living in a cute little Airbnb or eating at roadside joints, sitting in a cafe all day, or spending your day in the public library. 

3. It is hard to communicate about complicated trip routes

If you’re planning a multi-destination itinerary and want to experience a lot of different things on every route, it can get complicated to explain it to the agent and for him to get it right. For example, if you want to land and take a train to your hotel, then rent a cab to your restaurant, then rent an RV for the next destination, it becomes too complex to explain. 

Do people still use travel agents? 

The answer is yes, people still use travel agents. Especially luxury travelers, corporate groups, and large groups still prefer to book with travel agents. The other category is people planning a honeymoon, a cruise tour, a multi-destination itinerary, and people who don’t want to manage the logistics. Travel agents are for people who don’t want to spend hours researching their trips. For some travelers, research is the best part and they look forward to it. So, not everyone is using travel agents to plan their trips, but a large portion of travelers prefer it, especially for international trips. 

In 2021, more and more people are coming back to travel agents to get help with planning, preparing, and booking. Research says young adults prefer to outsource tasks like flight booking, visa procedures, and documentation for a trip. Travel agents come to the rescue in such situations. Even in the age of the internet, travel agents are relevant. They can get you cheaper deals, more inclusive itineraries, customize the experience and save you the hassle of managing bookings. 

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A lot of these agencies offer free itineraries and make a free plan for you. You can find a lot of helpful tips about a destination from here. 

Travel Agents in the Covid Era 

2020 was one of the hardest years for the travel industry and travelers. In 2021, with some ease in traveling across states and countries, planning a vacation is still tricky. So many travelers had to rebook their hotels, reschedule their flights and even change their destinations. Travel agents took the burden off and navigated the ever-changing policies and found the best-case scenario.

Booking with travel agents in 2021 is one of the best ways to save the inconvenience and disappointment of constant changes in plans. Travel agents will be able to help you better with the following things: 

  • Last-minute changes in the plans 

This involves flights, hotels, and any other special tours you might have booked with the agent. 

  • Update on travel restrictions 

Travel agents have the latest information on travel restrictions and rules for a destination. Booking with a travel agent will help you stay up-to-date on policy changes. 

  • Save travel costs and get you better deals 

Everyone is traveling at the first opportunity they get and all the top destinations are crowded. The prices are as high as ever and travel agents can help you save the extra buck on flights, hotels, and tickets. 

  • Organize complex itineraries in 2020 

Travel agents will help with booking, regulations, and requirements to travel to multiple destinations. 

Comparison case study 

Full-time & long-term travelers, family vacationers, expats on the go, and large groups, all advocate the idea of getting a travel agent. Here’s what different nomads, travelers, and staycationers have to say about it: 

“For us, at Our Whole Village, it is also a commitment to help families take meaningful vacations so that they can escape everyday life, show their kids the world and make incredible memories that will last forever. All while making the world a better place,” says Patty Monahan, the Founder of World Explorer and a full-time traveler. 

“The direct-to-consumer websites cut down the time it took to plan a trip from hours or days to minutes. And there is complete transparency. You can bargain-shop with a click of your mouse. It’s been devastating to an industry entrenched in tradition and stale relationships.” says Ryan Geist of Burner Air.

“No matter the size of your budget, using a travel agent in 2021 is the trick to booking the best vacation with the most bang for your buck,” recommends Hailey from americamybeautiful.com

“Travel agents demonstrated their value over the past year, especially when travelers experienced unexpected changes to their 2020 trips — whether it was a flight canceled by the airline or a personal decision to call off a vacation because of quarantine requirements. And as travel still looks uncertain for the foreseeable future, booking through a travel agent could save you headaches should your itinerary change,” said Sally French about the benefit of travel agents during covid. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether it is a complex itinerary or you want to save some extra money on travel, planning a trip with a travel agent has a lot of advantages. Moreover, it helps with creating a perfect trip. Travel agents add value by sharing unique things to do, crafting special experiences, and planning a flawless itinerary. 

If you’re someone who enjoys the planning process for a trip, you can only opt for the additional aid in visa procedure and travel pre-requisites in 2021. You don’t need a travel agent for every trip, but trips can be better with a travel agent.