Choosing a travel agency to handle your next vacation as opposed to dealing directly with an airline presents numerous benefits. Here are a few of the benefits you enjoy:
Wealth of information
Because of their experience and wide connections with people in the hospitality industry, travel agencies are in the best position to provide sound advice when it comes to the following points: off peak and peak travel times, budget travel, hotel and meal deals, excursions, shopping bargains, and other tourism-related topics. Much will depend on your preferences. For instance, are you interested in a golf holiday, a fishing trip, a museum jaunt or a spa type of vacation?
Travel agencies and online travel agencies are great for bargain hunting and usually get the best deals from their network of contacts. They also purchase air tickets on volume, consolidated tickets, enabling them to buy air tickets at considerably higher discounts.
Extended network of suppliers and providers
Given that travel agents deal every day with hotel managers, restaurant owners and managers, bed and breakfast supervisors, tour operators, limousine companies, and other people who offer a specialized service, they know who and what are offering better prices and when. So travel agents have a wealth of information on just about anything related to travel, and because they network with other travel agents, they get to exchange valuable tips. Consider yourself fortunate if you happen to be dealing with a travel agent who seems to know just about everyone in the travel industry and who can offer you the discounts that she reserves for preferred clients.
If you tell your travel agent that you and your friends want to travel together or that you’re taking your family of four on a Kenyan safari, he or she might be able to slash off more dollars from your air tickets because you will be travelling in a group. Sometimes, when you buy three adult tickets, travel agents will let your four-year-old travel for free or at a much lower price. Travel agents can, at their discretion, extend courtesy discounts to groups. The more seats are bought and the more rooms are booked, the higher the discounts they receive.
Travel agents also have access to suppliers and service providers who hand out bonuses or perks. These are the nice extra incentives that say, hotel managers would give to agents so that the next time the travel agency has a large group of travelers, they choose the same hotel. Meal vouchers are another example that travel agencies have a constant supply of to give to loyal customers. For example, if you and your friends like to visit Las Vegas a lot, your travel agency may give you slot chips worth $50.00 to use on machines, or free passes to a stage show or concert. So you see, it does pay to develop good relationships with travel agencies especially if you’re a frequent traveler.
Some travel agencies specialize in certain types of travel and cater to a certain age group or specific professional groups. Some travel agencies have more strengths and capabilities than other travel agencies. One travel agency may know the ins and outs of Eastern Europe or may know what the best budget restaurants in Tokyo are. Other travel agencies may cater specifically to retirees, students or government officials.
When a travel agency handles a large account like a mid-size company whose executives travel weekly, you can be sure that travel agency is in a position to offer significant savings on plane tickets or hotel reservations. If you have a friend who works for a large company and his company uses one travel agency, you could ask him to request the travel agency for special deals. Because travel agents are grateful for the continuing patronage of their company clients, they will most likely share tips on how to travel on a shoestring budget for the executives’ children.
Don’t let one unfortunate experience with a travel agency discourage you. Find another. If you deal with the airlines directly, you’re just another caller to them, whereas if a travel agent calls the airline on your behalf, the airline will recognize the travel agency as a regular customer and hence would be more inclined to extend courtesies.
What you need to do before calling a travel agency is to decide:
Specific travel dates
Where you want to go, where you want to stay and whether you’ll need a car or rail passes
If you’re willing to travel on a restricted ticket or as a standby passenger
What activities you’d like to do once you arrive in your destination
By giving your travel agency complete information, she can be more efficient in helping you plan your next vacation.