Thank goodness for my Travel Agent!
With the recent world issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, never has the importance of booking through a travel agent been better highlighted. While everything might be tickety-boo when you leave home, things can change very quickly (as the world discovered!). If you’ve booked your travel through a travel agent, you’ve got the back up when you need it.
There’s a common perception out there that it costs more to book through a travel agent. This isn’t quite true. Yes, there are the odd tour operators or last minute accommodation deals that get released to fill empty rooms, but generally speaking you’ll pay the same, or better, by going through a travel agent. How does this work?
It’s like this. Wholesale travel companies put through hundreds of guests through hotels, on flights, on tours, cruises and what not. These cruise lines/hotels etc know that the wholesale business is far greater than individual bookings that come direct. That means the wholesale companies can negotiate special, discounted rates with more generous terms and conditions that then get passed to the travel agent.
Booking through the travel agent, however, means they do all the donkey work. You don’t have to spend hours reading all the fine print, scrolling online for deals, searching where things are or figuring out how you’re going to get from A to B. You don’t have to try to find the elusive special airfares that tie in with a cruise departure or try to find where it says what the cancellation fees are. The travel agent does all of this for you – at no extra cost!
Plus, travel agents often have access to room alotments and package deals that aren’t available if you book online. That’s why sometimes a property or cruise will show “Sold Out” online, but a travel agent may still be able to get a cabin or room. They also will often be the first to know if there’s a cancellation and a cabin becomes available.
Getting to know your agent – or having them get to know you – is invaluable. Once they have an understanding of what kind of traveller you are and what’s important to you, they can make suggestions that online information just doesn’t always give you.
Of course, then there’s the back up you receive if something goes wrong. No one foresaw the surgence of the COVID-19 virus. No one predicted that airlines would suddenly reduce capacity, or travellers would have to self-isolate. No one predicted cruise ships wouldn’t be able to dock or would have to cease operation for a time. These things came out of the blue. If you’re stuck on the other side of the world trying to get home, your travel agent suddenly becomes your best friend. They are obligated to help you out. They’ve got the relationships with the airlines and suppliers to get you home. They’ll spend hours on the phones to change your booking.
Likewise, if you have to cancel before you go, they’ll make all the changes and ensure you pay the least cancellation fees possible or find out if you can transfer that credit to another date. You’re not alone – there’s someone helping you out.
All of this comes at little or no extra cost to you!