Why should I use a travel agent?
Travel agents work hard on behalf of the consumer. The role of a travel agent is to make the process of going on a trip - whether for work or pleasure - be a stress-free and memorable experience. Travel agents spend time not only booking tickets and searching for affordable prices, but also personalizing their services for individual clients. The American Society of Travel Agents' (ASTA) motto, "Without a Travel Agent, You're On Your Own," exemplifies the importance and way professional travel agents view their role in today's changing market.
The job of a travel agent has grown and adapted to reflect the changes within the travel industry and difference in the way people think about travel. Travel agents recognize that consumers today have done their homework and are more knowledgeable about what they want. Clients who turn to a travel agent desire an in-depth, personal approach and want the advice and expertise of a professional. Your travel agent:

  • Distills product information
  • Investigates and supplies competitive information
  • Stays abreast of the most current and timely promotions
  • Analyzes the current promotions
  • Clarifies the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions
  • Makes recommendations on travel-related options
  • Simplifies the research and subsequent transaction
  • Enhances the trip with value-added benefits and amenities
  • Uses their clout to obtain the best possible arrangements in seemingly impossible situations
  • Gets problems resolved.

What are the benefits of using a travel agent compared to the Internet?
The Internet can be a powerful tool. It can increase the scope and reach of a consumer's efforts and allow a person to check hundreds of options or research destinations in depth. But to make the Internet work effectively, a person has to understand where to look and what questions to ask, otherwise hours can be wasted surfing the Web and ultimately produce unsatisfactory results. This is where a travel agent can make a world of difference.
A professional travel agent is trained to guide a client through the entire process of planning a trip, whether for business or for leisure. Travel agents take classes, participate in seminars, become destination specialists and join professional associations, in order to ensure they make each client's travel experience as personalized, convenient and memorable as possible. When planning a business trip or family vacation, the Internet can be a valuable resource, but it cannot replace the expertise and guidance of a travel agent. Also, during travel crises, the Internet can't replace a human being who will persist to help a client. Travel agents, meanwhile, can offer a myriad of intermediate options.

Will I pay a fee to use a travel agent?
For many years the answer to this was no. That was when all travel suppliers paid commission to the travel agent. Airlines do not compensate agents so agents do charge to issue airline tickets. The cost to do so can vary as to the complexity of the travel arrangements. If you have shopped for airline tickets, you know how time consuming it is and how confusing it can be. Agents are trained to understand airfares and to find the best flights to suit their clients. Agents also have access to consolidators who may offer better fares than you can find online. Expect to pay a fee of $25-$40 for a simple ticket but for that fee your agent will monitor your flights and if there is a schedule change or cancelled flight by the airline you now have an agent to assist with helping to find an alternative plan.

You can also expect to pay a fee for customized services where your agent will design your itinerary and complete all aspects of your travel planning. These fees can vary but will be well worth it as for one fee you will have all of your arrangements made for you from transportation to the airport, airport assistance (wheelchairs), complete day-by-day planning of your entire itinerary including theater tickets, restaurant reservations, private tours, car rentals, and any other personal request you have. You will need to discuss your plans with your agent who will advise you and let you know, in advance, what the fee will be for this service. It will be well worth your while to have your trip planned professionally and to have it personalized.

Should I purchase travel insurance?
As an agent I offer travel protection to all of my clients, even for the simplest airline ticket. Agents are trained to understand cancellation penalties and we know that travel suppliers will be very strict about their penalties and travelers can lose their entire investment when something comes up that causes them to cancel their trip. The cost of insurance varies and is normally determined by the cost of your trip and your age. Typically the older you are the more you will pay for insurance. We have access to more than one type of insurance so we will advise our clients as to the best one suited for their individual needs. Today pre-existing conditions are waived with most companies as long as you purchase the insurance within a certain time frame.

No one knows what can happen in life, either to themselves or members of their families. And recently who could have predicted the cost to travelers of the delays caused by volcanic ash! There are a myriad of things covered by insurance and every traveler should consider the purchase. It is a small price to pay to protect your investment and to be sure that if you have a problem when you are traveling you will have a resource for assistance!

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