Much like blogs are making inroads on news reporting, so too Internet sites are having an effect on the role that travel agents play. Will travel agents become obsolete? For much of routine travel, the answer is yes. For more specialized travel, they will always have a role to play. The thing that travel agents offer that websites do not is experience in dealing with a wide range of travel services, from cruises to airlines, from visas to dangerous areas for tourists to go. It is the wisdom behind the agent that makes an individual irreplaceable.
Specialized knowledge makes travel agents valuable
Travel agents often have specialized knowledge. For example, there are those who specialize only in cruises. With all the factors complicating a cruise choice (ship size, company, cabin location, reputation, itinerary, best ports-of-call), working with an agent can help a traveler sift through a wide range of information to make the best informed choice.
They can also help travelers stick to a particular price point and get them some extra perks as well. Perks that your travel agent can provide regarding cruises for example (in addition to great information) range from a welcoming gift in your cabin to an upgraded level for a lower cabin price.
Flexibility can be key, and travel agents often know when cruises or other trips are more likely to be crowded (less perks) or relatively sparse (more perks).
High-end trip planning
Travel agents provide great service in planning for high end trips, like safaris, round-the-world itineraries, and travel to exotic locales or locations with a history of problems for tourists (due to civil strife or other political turmoil, for example). Travel agents can make fast business getting travelers out of sticky situations compared with individuals faring for themselves.
Travel agents are useful for large-group planning and booking, ensuring that discounts not offered online can be secured for your group. Handling multi-stop travel plans for a large group of people is best coordinated through a central planner who can seek the advantages of discount rates or coordinate special requests, such as the services of a guide, when needed.
Consolidators and ticket advantages
Some consolidated tickets can only be secured through a travel agent. Ever see those tiny ads at the back of newspapers and local magazines, and wonder if they’re real? They are, but typically these are for travel agents dealing in consolidator ticketing. Working with you, they can secure ultra-low pricing for restricted conditions.
Travel agents are often the best solution for complicated ticketing in general. With the extra charges that can be levied by airlines in today’s marketplace, having someone who’s savvy with fare pricing and a wide range of airlines is likely to work to your advantage.
For most people, and most simple vacation planning, travel agents are a thing of the past. There are many websites that can help smooth the process. The travel industry has a great stake in trying to eliminate the kickbacks to these agents, too. Yet for certain travel situations, a helpful travel agent can save you time and money or even assure that your trip of a lifetime is worry free.