Travel agents have evolved over the decades to be full-fledged travel planners, helping their clients with every little detail to create the perfect vacation. They are no longer 9 to 5 agents who book a flight and hotel and send the customer the itinerary and a map.
Here are the most common myths about working with a travel agent and why now, more than ever, is the best time to entrust your vacation with a trained professional who is with you every step of the way.
Myth #1: “I lose control of my vacation by booking with a travel agent.”
FALSE - You do not relinquish control over your own vacation. In fact, the more involved you are in the process, the more your agent will get to know you and help perfect the details to suit your family’s style, requests, and requirements. You can still enjoy the planning and research if, for you, planning is all part of the fun of the vacation!
Myth #2: “Travel agents charge a fee and will cost us more.”
FALSE - Booking with a travel agent will cost exactly the same as booking direct or maybe less than what you may find looking online.
If you book your travel with a travel agent, the agent receives a commission from the supplier. There is no added cost to use a travel agent, and you receive their concierge services for free. If a promotion is released that can be applied to your existing reservation, your travel agent will be aware of it and will automatically try to apply it for you without you needing to request a thing!
A travel agency may charge a fee for planning services if you do not book your vacation with them, but want assistance building an itinerary, or if your travel requires extensive, specialized research.
Myth #3: “Travel agents are only useful for booking big vacations.”
FALSE - Travel agents can book hotels, rental cars, travel insurance, scooters, strollers, and more. Every reservation, no matter how small, is important and adds to their annual sales goals.
Myth #4: “With the use of the internet, travel agents are no longer needed.”
FALSE - Now more than ever, travel agents are there to help everything go smoothly and to be your advocate. This has never been truer than the Pandemic of 2020 when travelers who booked direct or who booked with a company like Costco or Expedia, spent hours or days on hold and still could not get through to a person who was able to assist them.
Myth #5: “Travel agents are paid to answer phones and answer questions even if we do not book with them.”
FALSE - The majority of travel agents work on commission only and are only paid after their clients have traveled.
Agents are not compensated for any of their time if a client does not book their vacation with them. If your vacation is cancelled, the agent does not receive a commission regardless of how much time was spent planning with you.
Myth #6: “All travel agents are the same.”
FALSE - Not all travel agents are created equally.
Most agents have a specialty such as family travel, all-inclusive resorts, families with special needs, cruises, etc. While most agents do not charge a fee, some agencies will charge a fee for high-end travel itineraries or to protect themselves if you decide not to book or cancel after they have done a lot of work. Some book you and send you on your way while others help map out a detailed itinerary. Some work strict traditional hours while others work seven days a week and will provide services that may require them to be at their desk before 8 am.
The agent should be clear about their services and fees and you should be clear about the services you expect. Ask friends and family for referrals for an agent they really enjoyed working with.
Myth #7: “All travel agents offer an onboard credit for cruises.”
FALSE - Onboard credits come directly from the agent’s commission.
A travel agent will be assisting with recommendations for the cruise line, sailing itinerary, stateroom selection, pre- and post-night hotel, extended stay pre- or post-cruise, on-board activities, port excursions, verifying travel and identification documents, special requests and requirements, and preparing you for your cruise. If the agent is not providing any of these services, the agent may decide to offer a small onboard credit instead, at their discretion.
Myth #8: “A family vacation is very important to us. Working with a travel agent is really impersonal.”
FALSE - Planning a vacation IS and SHOULD BE very personal.
When you find an agent you really enjoy, you build a relationship with them and they will get to know your special requests and requirements. They will know that you need a refrigerator for medications or that you need a pack n play for your toddler. You may spend many months working together to put the perfect vacation together for your family. They become a friend who is just as excited as you as every little detail for your vacation comes together. Believe it or not, they will still remember you long after you traveled because planning your vacation is personal to them too!
Myth #9: “My travel agent does not need referrals.”
FALSE - For most travel agents, referrals make up more than 90% of their sales.
This is what they do, and they rely on referrals to friends and family from clients who value their services. It is the biggest compliment to receive a referral and for most agents, they would not be able to continue doing what they love without them.
Special note - these myths relate specifically to independent, specialty travel advisors. Big box stores like Costco, online discount sites like Expedia, and brick and mortar locations like AAA, do not offer the same level of service, detail and follow-up, and usually have no way to give you a dedicated agent to work with.
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