Category Archives: Travel Agent

Why Use a Travel Agent?

I asked the same question myself.  After years of booking my own travel I wondered why anyone would use an agent for something that is so simply done online. So before agreeing to jump in to this business, I did some research. Below is an open letter from Joseph A. Watters, President of Crystal Cruises to newspaper and magazine travel editors:

Dear Travel Editor,

“Why should I use a travel agent?” As a veteran travel executive, that’s a question I’m often asked. Today, with the overwhelming number of sources for travel information (the Internet, cable television, newspapers, magazines, guidebooks, etc.), it’s no wonder the consumer is confused. Yet that’s precisely why the services of a professional travel consultant are more valuable than ever.

In January, the television news magazine, 20/20, reported the results of a test in which travel agents beat consumers at uncovering the best airfares. However, it is much more than the “lowest fare” that provides the compelling argument for a good travel agent.

The best thing an agent can do is to match up a traveler with the vacation that’s right for them. The professional travel consultant builds relationships with their clients to learn their interests and lifestyles, as well as their dispositions.

Below is a list of some of the important services, which are either provided free or for a nominal charge, by travel agents:

1. Distilling the product information: Through an on-going and time-consuming process of familiarization, continuing education and customer feedback, the agent becomes a travel expert.

2. Investigating and supplying competitive information: No single supplier is going to advise a consumer that a better route or a better fare is available on a competing carrier.

3. Staying abreast of the most current and timely promotions: Via daily faxes, agent-only e-mail transmissions, and their relationships with their district sales managers, agents are obtaining the most current promotional information.

4. Analyzing the current promotions: The cheapest is not always the best.

5. Clarifying the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions: Again, the benefits of a professional’s experience can save a traveler money . . . and headaches.

6. Making recommendations for travel-related options: Travel agents share the to pack for different travel options.

7. Simplifying the research and subsequent transaction: Like a personal shopper, agents can provide one-stop shopping for travelers who require air arrangements, rental cars, cruise accommodations and hotel stays – with suggestions that are in the best interest of the client, not the supplier.

8. Enhancing the trip with value-added benefits and amenities: Agents can add to the client’s experience by sending a bottle of wine, providing a special land package, a specific escort or other customer amenities.

9. Using their clout to obtain the best possible in seemingly impossible situations: Whether it’s airline seats, hotel rooms or cruise space, the travel agent has more buying power than the consumer.

10. Getting problems resolved: The agent serves as the consumer’s advocate in the event something inadvertently goes wrong.

The use of outside service providers for many transactions, such as tax preparation, isn’t questioned. Similarly, if one is going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, as well as a good chunk of valuable leisure time, it makes great sense to use a professional.

I hope you’ll consider sharing this information in future consumer interest columns.


Have You ever used a Travel Agent?  What was your experience?

We won a cruise!

Well, it’s kind of been my lucky week.  I got to work on Monday and found out I had won a Carnival Cruise! Carnival was running some sort of promotion for cruise week and I registered, and won!  Probably lots of travel agents will win this because you still have to pay taxes, port charges and gratuities (so it isn’t exactly FREE), but I’ll take it!  We had been discussing what to do for Thanksgiving, so I got on the phone and booked a 7 night cruise for Thanksgiving week!  We will be spending Thanksgiving day in Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos. Jealous??

Second lucky thing that happened is that we had a contest at work to guess how many jelly beans were in a jar.

1024 Jellybeans in the Jar.  I guessed 1003.

1024 Jellybeans in the Jar. I guessed 1003.

The guesses were $2 to raise money for breast cancer.  I was the closest without going over, so I won the jar of jelly beans plus a $15 iTunes gift card!  Might have to download some new tunes to take on the cruise!

Now, to go out and buy a lottery ticket…

Previously, I won a trip to Ireland and took my hubby and my mom.  We had only been dating about a month when we went, but I figured if he could last for 8 days in Ireland with me AND my mom he was a keeper!  And funny enough, we left on Thanksgiving day three years ago!  So it must be a tradition we will have to continue.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever won?  Where is the strangest place you have spent Thanksgiving?