This past weekend I had friends coming to visit from Antwerp and they travelled via the Eurostar. Unfortunately for them, their train was delayed quite a bit. At the same time I was listening to the latest podcast from Rick Steves (https://www.ricksteves.com/about-rick) where there was a brief discussion on whether there is still a need for travel agents or not. Therefore in this post I would like to explore the benefits and the drawbacks of using a travel agent.
I am planning a trip to Cape Town via Johannesburg however I got my fingers burned booking the trip myself. I booked my flights myself and the issues I ran into –
I am traveling with someone, my stay will be extended in South Africa for that reason I had to book a separate flights, this mean that we were not linked as travel partners. The second issue that I ran into is that I made a mistake with one of the bookings therefore I had to amend it, this amendment came at a costly price, for a silly mistake!. Lastly, I am fortunate enough to receive privileges regarding seat reservations, however the other person I am traveling with doesn’t therefore either we have to pay more to get a seat allocation next to each other or hope that we can find seats next to each other 24hrs before when check in opens.
This pose the question do we need a travel agent to book your trip, or should you do it yourself?
I like to explore the benefits of using a Travel Agent.
- Travel agents are actually travel experts with a host of experience in the country that they represent, if this is your first visit to another country they could become quite resourceful and hopefully recommend tours or travel options that might save you a dollar or two.
- It’s also beneficial if you have a requirement to get bespoke travel arrangements done, this would have come in extremely helpful if I used an agent for my flights to South Africa. An agent will be able to customise the trip to your needs, this will indeed save you time and effort to research each leg of your journey and give you the comfort of receiving options to manage your expectations.
- What I find is that I am actually spending a lot of time searching for flights and hotels therefore travel agents will definitely come in handy if you have a need of time saving. Many of us are busy and how much does your time cost you, the value of your time will be outweigh by the cost of using an agent.
- There is a more prominent advantage of using an agent and that is the added security when things go wrong. This could be like me at the stage of booking a flight or alternatively if you are in the country, most agents will belong to an professional body like IATA.
In my opinion there are some real drawbacks of using a Travel Agent.
- My major reservation in using an agent is that travel agents is out to make money for themselves therefore recommend the best option for them rather than for you. Cost could be an argument for not using a travel.
- Travel agents works in the service industry however I have had some diabolical service from agents before, in the same breath I have to say that I have had exceptional experience before.
- Not using an agent give you full control of your itinerary. Something that most of us control freaks are quite happy to do.
- Travel agents sometimes does not get the best deals in the market. I have many time seen flights available i.e. on Emirates. Airlines sometimes have flights discounted for a particular country therefore agents only get that countries discount therefore not always the best deal in the market.
The question I think comes down to how much time you have to do your research and whether or not you are happy to let someone else do the work for you. One thing is certain, there is a place for travel agents.
Why not leave a comment and let me know what you prefer, using an agent or doing it yourself?