Travel agents used to be a necessary part of traveling. If you wanted to go anywhere, you had to call a travel agent, tell them where you wanted to go and what you'd like to do. They'd arrange everything for you, be on hand if problems arose, and you wouldn't have to know much about the hotel beside how much it cost.
Times have drastically changed. People use travel, review, and bargain price websites instead of travel agents. Everyone has the option to craft their own vacations and business trips. Some businesses even require employees to plan their own trips, often giving them a per diem to help with the costs.
Although technology has given us the power to plan every aspect of our trip, travel agents still have immense value. Here are four reasons to use a travel agent:
1. They provide additional perks.
Even if you spend hours searching the internet for the best prices and deals, as an average consumer, you won't see everything an airline or hotel has to offer. Depending on your travel agent and their connections, they might be able to provide you with a better seat on an airplane and better-priced package deals with the airline and hotel.
Their job is to make sure you get the best deals possible, so often they partner with chefs and tour guides. Don't be surprised if the hotel's chef arranges a special dinner just for you, courtesy of your travel agent. I've even had a thoughtful travel agent book complimentary massages for me after my flight was delayed ten hours.
2. They can save you time and money.
There's a common misconception that travel agents are more money than they're worth. In my experience, the majority of the time I've saved has been worth least twice what I've paid them, especially on more complex trips.
You probably have plenty of responsibilities that often don't leave you much time to plan a business trip. While searching for hidden deals is a fun, thrilling experience, there's no denying that it takes time. Travel agents are specialists in searching for and keeping up with deals and promotions.
They often have connections and recommendations that will make your business trip worthwhile. If you want to extend your trip, they'll have solid advice there too.
Once, I used a travel agent to help extend my business trip so that my family members could join me. It eased my stress of being away from them, and helped us discover parts of the city we never would've thought about. They were happy, and I was able to network and focus on my business trip.
3. They're there for you if things go south.
You don't live in a perfect world where everything always goes right. If anything, more things go wrong than right. Sometimes flights are canceled and other times you miss them. My first reaction is to worry and stress when something doesn't go as planned. If you're on a tight schedule, calling an airline's customer service seems like a nightmare.
Travel agents typically have the resources to help you to rebook your flight and can make sure that you get where you need to go on time. Plus, it's the season for winter weather and holiday travel crowds. Having a travel agent as a backup will make the travel process easier to manage.
4. They provide a human touch.
Travel agents are more than itinerary-fillers, they're people who care about what you want and how you feel. Yes, there are good looking deals online. But what you see is not always what you get.
If you book the same travel agent each time you're going on a business trip, they'll become more familiar with your preferences. You'll be able to call them and let them know your plans and they'll make sure that you have everything you need. That personal touch can make your trip much more enjoyable and save you the unnecessary stress.
Sometimes, a travel agent isn't necessary.
There are definitely instances when a travel agent isn't needed. If your business trip is taking you somewhere you know well, make the reservations yourself. If you know exactly what you want, like the downtown Hilton with a redeye flight, you're probably better off booking on your own. If you have the time to research, save money and make the reservations independently--you may find better deals on sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.
Having resources when you travel is always wise. Credit cards with travel protections and travel agents are some of the best backups, especially if you're on a strict work schedule. That's when you can use the services of a travel agent, so you can instead focus on your business.