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8. Experienced travel agents have connections.

Because travel agents deal with travel companies all of the time, they have connections and clout.  Travel agencies can often times find cheaper airline tickets than from the airlines themselves by combining flights from multiple airlines or by going to wholesaler.  An experienced travel agent also has a databank of hotels and accommodations around the world that have provided good experiences for their clients in the past.  They know the best trips to take, tours to book, and countries to visit.  After many years they will have established relationships with other travel friends and partners around the world.  These connections keep them informed as to changes and latest offerings in an area.  I have a number of friends on Facebook in a number of countries who are travel agents or guides and gladly share the experiences of their happy customers!


7. A good travel agent is “in the know” about the latest trends in travel.

Because travel agents work in the travel field every day, they are always being exposed to and updated on the latest travel trends. They are the first to know about a new resort or a new trend in vacations.  For example wellness and vegan vacations are in for 2018, as well as cooking vacations.  Biometrics and translation technology are just two of the current trends in the airline industry, and as for hotels, there are new apps, cyber security, and real time customer satisfaction is becoming much more common.  Sky nannies for airlines, art retreats and volunteerism are also growing trends as well.  They can tell you which airlines or hotels to avoid because they may be going out of business.  If you want to know the latest trends for countries to travel to, just ask a travel agent.  I will give you one hint; this country was once out of reach for most Americans!

9. They are a personal shopper for travel and are best suited to match you to your personal needs.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a personal shopper that knows your needs and what you like?  A travel agent is just that: someone who keeps track of your personal preferences and needs in travel and makes sure that you are satisfied and happy with their services.  The last time I used my travel agent, she ordered a wheelchair for me at the gate in case my fibromyalgia was acting up.  I didn’t need it, but it was nice to know it was there if I had.  She also suggested the right travel insurance in case I got ill and couldn’t make my flight.  But a travel agent does more than that.  They can match you with a Costa Rican Eco trip or a cooking trip in Italy.  They can find you an extreme adventure vacation in the Grand Canyon and provide you with insurance to keep you and your vacation covered.  But their reach doesn’t stop there either… their job includes finding the right accommodations, the right transportation once you arrive, and even fellow travelers to accompany you if you wish.  A travel agent is an all-inclusive shopping network!

 


3. Travel agents can alert you to parts of travel one might not have otherwise considered.

When you plan for a trip by yourself, you can only plan for it by using what you know.  This is like driving a car without taking driving lessons.  You probably can do it, but you might run into trouble along the way.  Traveling using an agent will guide you on your travel journey and keep you safe.  Agents will inform you of the necessities of using insurance, places unsafe to travel, countries that charge an exit fee; things that we do not even think to ask.  Another thing that is often overlooked because of inexperience is the six-month validity passport rule.   It is a rule that most countries follow.  They won’t even allow you to enter their borders unless your passport is set to expire at least six months after your last day of travel.  Who would think of that?  So check with a travel professional first so you don’t have a “travel accident”!

11. They can lesson many of the frustrations that come with travel.


One of the things I love the most about travel planning is all of the wonderful things I learn about the world through research.  But not everyone is like me.  Nor do they like sifting through the endless information to try to find that one best deal.  In traveling the best deal doesn’t always equate to the greatest value.   If your best deal plane fare makes you miss a flight and leaves you camped at an airport or your hotel turns out to be less than delightful, you might want to rethink what value truly is.  A good travel agent knows the secrets of how to get you great value and avoid these and other every day frustrations that can arise while planning your vacation.


 

Come see the world with me!
​​​Next month I will be discussing 

the biggest mistakes newbie travelers make.
See you on Sunday, 
May 6, at 6:00 PM!
​​​Happy travels! Ciao!  😎

5. Travel agents can help with complex travel plans.

I travel overseas every few years on a trip that usually involves a complicated schedule.  Although I know how to do this, I do not have access to the sites and programs that an agency does.  Many times I choose to stop over at a place where I have friends or family , and sometimes I travel within a country once I get there.  All of this is becomes very complicated the more stops you add and involves rules and regulations in other countries I am not familiar with. When you are planning a trip with multiple countries, stops, hotels, or tours, it is best to use an experienced individual who can help you organize it.  A well-trained individual can help you avoid the potholes and snags you might find if you are a do-it-yourself travel planner.                          .          



Why Travel Agents Are Still The Best Way To Go.

🐇 Happy Easter! 🐇

If you are an inexperienced traveler or planning a major trip, a travel agent is still the best way to go.  Travel agents are trained to get the best deals and will be able to give you a better idea of the ins and outs of traveling.  Traveling is expensive any way you look at it.  I always use a travel agent unless I am taking a small inexpensive flight, like a gaunt to Florida.  But if I am taking a flight to Europe or Australia and am spending several hundred dollars or even thousands, I am going to protect my investment and get the biggest bang for my buck.

Having studied travel several years ago, I have my certificate of travel and tourism and I know the ins and outs of travel and a lot of the tricks of the industry. As a traveler, I usually book through AAA, as I have a membership and travel booking is just one of the benefits of being a member.  My travel agent has been around for years and because she understands my needs, provides services to match.  But if you go to another agency, consider the booking fee as part of the money invested to find a cheaper deal.  You will almost always win out in the end.


Although there are many other reasons why a travel agency is still invaluable, these are the 13 reasons why I still I use one:


4. They provide insurance when things go bad.

We buy insurance for our vehicles and our homes. Why not our trips?  The proper insurance will protect our flights, our accommodations, our land transportation, and ourselves while we are away from home.  Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to be hospitalized in another country?  In many countries passports will be confiscated and doctors won’t let you leave the hospital without full payment for services rendered.  When purchasing overseas vacations that aren’t in the United States or your home country, I believe it is always a wise thing to buy insurance. As for medical insurance, it is always a good idea to check medical insurance as many times you may not be covered if you are out of your area. Keep in mind it is better to be safe than sorry when dealing with possibly thousands of dollars. Insurance is usually 5-7% of the trip, so if you are taking a trip that costs $2,000 your insurance will most likely cost between $100 and $140.  A small price for peace of mind!  My philosophy is if you can pay for a vacation, you can pay for the insurance.  In my mind at least, they go hand in hand.

 

12. Travel agents can provide a client with VIP treatment as well as perks others don’t have access to.

Because travel agents have unique connections within the travel industry, they have access to things you and I do not.  A few of the items that a travel agent may provide for their clients include free room upgrades, private guided tours, and resort credits toward food or the spa.  A good travel agent can also provide travelers with romantic champagne and greetings upon arrival.  Can you get that with doing it yourself?  

 


1.Travel Agents are highly educated business personnel and have personal experience. 


Our ability to do well is only as large as our experience.  Experienced agents know the ins and outs of travel, where to go and what to do to get the most out of a trip.  And if they don’t, they know where to find it or who to ask to get it.  Because of their education and experience in travel, they can help educate us on many travel options.  When I studied travel and tourism, I was amazed by how much travel agents are expected to know. They must be proficient on the geography of the world, the business of travel and tourism and have been trained on various computer programs to access different airlines and companies. Then, like teachers, nurses, and doctors, they are expected to keep current on the latest developments in tourism and become familiar with others within their given field. Many of them become specialized in their field, like researching and developing trips for  companies or working in certain types of vacations, such as special needs or cruise vacations.  But whatever specialty they choose, you should know they are well equipped to handle your business. It is all about the details in organizing fantastic trip, and that is what an agent is an expert in.

10. In an impersonal world, they provide a personal touch and someone to talk to.

I hate dealing with recorded messages when I really need to speak with someone and most people I know feel the same way.  Travel agents provide that personal connection missing in today’s world.  A long term working relationship is something that you can build with a travel consultant.  Meeting with them face to face helps them to know what you need, want, and creates a relationship that can last for years to come. I went to a new agent last year in our local AAA office and she remembered my name when I went back to see her last week.  (I will go back to her just because of that alone!)  When initially planning a trip, an appointment usually can be made within a few days.  If you are already vacationing and need immediate assistance, most will drop everything to help you or find someone else who can.   They have your back.

 

13. They are non-biased in the services they provide.

Because the travel agent is trying to earn your business, they will make every attempt to provide you with the best possible experience they are capable of.  By making you happy, they are guaranteeing that you will most likely be a return customer.  Their work is not based on anything other than providing you with the best time on your vacation.  


So with all of these reasons, I ask you, why not use a travel agent?!

 

6. They are the “Gorilla Glue” of the travel industry.

There is another insurance a travel agent can provide: the insurance of a safety net to catch you when something goes wrong. Travel agents can fix things.  What would you do if you should find your accommodations less than satisfactory upon arrival? (Which has happened to me several times.)  When using a travel agent, all you need to make is a call and your “insurance” kicks in, and the fix is made.  What happens if you miss a connection and the airline doesn’t want to help?  Make your safety net call and your fall will be broken.  You can relax and not stress.  A vacation is for relaxing after all!  What happens if you lose your train ticket or travel pass? A good travel agent can help you find help to get a new one or refund it. What if there is a natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake and you cannot leave.  They will help you help with refunding your trip or reschedule it. If they cannot glue it for you, then they can provide duct tape at least!

 

2. They are cost effective and save time.

Many people think that by finding travel flights, accommodations, and other items for traveling online and by researching on their own, they will be getting the best deals.  But in fact, they are most likely spending time and money they don’t have.  Travel agents know secrets and have access to sites, deals, and accounts that the average person does not have.  Also, because they are educated and trained in providing this service, their help is well worth the extra money one might spend.  For example, they can provide you with things like free room upgrades or food and beverage credits.  If you are planning a trip to Paris, they can tell you what accommodations may be in your price range, research reviews, organize transportation within Paris and provide you with a range of restaurants and tours if you wish and tie everything together in a round trip flight that might not even be available to someone without connections. The greatest percent of hotels are parity priced, (98%) which means that they cost the same whether or not you use a travel agent to do the work.  Also payments can often times be made with installments and you usually have 24 hours in which to lock in the price while giving you time to make a final decision.

Come see the world with me,
footloose and fancy free!

How does one find a good travel agent?


Luckily I know several people in my community that are in the travel business.   But when I move out of the area in the near future, I will be looking for new professionals, including a new travel agent.  But how does one go about finding a good one?

We must choose our travel agents carefully, just as we would a doctor or dentist.  Here are some of the conditions that must be considered: 

1. One of the best ways is always word of mouth

Get advice from friends and relatives.  However, even though you may have a recommendation from a friend, it is best to check these agents out too.  Make certaib they are a licensed agent and ask for references.

2. Look for title after the name

Just like when looking for a doctor or dentist, when searching for a travel agent one should look for the title after the name.  Look for these two tiles to assure you experience skill and knowledge: Certified Travel Associate (CTA) and Certified Travel Counselor (CTC). Both of these designations are given by the Travel Institute. (thetravelinstitute.com )  Also, look for an agency in which their members are members of the ASTA. (American Society of Travel Agents)


3. Look for one that fits your needs and lifestyle.  

Just like any other professionals, make certain that your agent fits your personality and needs.  Ask questions that will help you to find one that fits you best.  For example; do you specialize in any type of travel or what services do you have that will help me to have a great vacation? 


4. Check out or call several agencies

Interview a few and watch how professional they are, how well they listen, and answer your questions.

5. Use a travel agent finder 

Websites such as Travelsense.org., virtuoso.com/advisors, or Travel Leaders at travelleaders.com/travel_agent/find-a-travel-agent.aspx. provide directories for those looking  to find a good agent.  These are three of the directories of agents to chose from.  Here are a two others:

https://www.cruising.org/cruise-vacationer/cruise-travel-guide/clia-agent-finder
https://www.facebook.com/AmSocTrvlAgents/ - ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) 


6. Ask what services travel agents charge for and how much?
  Remember you are in charge.  They are working for you.