The idea of using a travel agent to book your trip, rather than doing it yourself, has given some travelers pause. After all, what tells you that you won’t find yourself in a Thomas Cook-style situation where you find yourself stranded after your travel agency goes bankrupt? But for some, that risk of trusting someone else to plan your entire trip is of little concern when they can avoid all the stress of trip planning.
If you’ve ever considered hiring a travel agent, but still aren’t sure, here are nine pros and cons to think about before deciding either way.
1. You are not the one planning your trip
For some people who use a travel agent, it’s all about the convenience. You tell your agent where you want to go and what kind of trip you like, sit back and relax, then hop on a plane. Easy.
This one can go both ways. Some travel agents may provide you with attractive package deals for your trip. Other times the cost of using a travel agent means you won’t be saving money.
3. Someone is always by your side
One great thing that a travel agent can provide is advocacy. They are always by your side. If an airline cancels your flight, or if a hotel suddenly failed to check in your reservation, your travel agent can help you sort things out quickly. However, it doesn’t really help when they also own the hotel or the airline, as it did with Thomas Cook.
On a more serious scale, travel agents can also help you with a natural disaster or any other type of event that would require you to quickly evacuate a destination.
4. They want you to be happy
An airline or hotel brand might not care if you re-hire. There will always be another traveler in line to take your seat. However, with agents, they often have a limited number of clients. They want to gain your repeat customers.
To do this, you will find that the agents will go out of their way to make sure that you are happy with your experience. It could mean giving something away for free or improving your experience.
5. They make it easier to visit a whole new place
If you are traveling to an entirely new and completely foreign place, having a travel agent can make it easier for you. They can recommend the best places to go, stay, eat, and play, and they often have first-hand experiences with those places. This way you don’t rely on internet searches or a potentially outdated guide.
They can also teach you about a variety of little things that are easier to pass person-to-person, such as local customs and “dos” and “don’ts”.
1. You are not the one planning your trip
While not planning your trip is an advantage for some, for other travelers it is a major disadvantage. Some travelers really enjoy the planning part of the travel experience. Everything from reading travel blogs to finding photos of inspiring destinations on Pinterest and reading travel guides can be an exciting part of the process.
They would never have dreamed of letting someone else take the reins.
2. You add another person to the equation
A good thing about booking your travel experience yourself is that you can literally do it anytime, anywhere. When you have a travel agent, you have to consider someone else’s schedule.
If you decide to go to Bermuda on a Sunday at 2 p.m. and want to book it right then, your travel agent will only be able to help you on Monday morning. If you book yourself, you can secure your travel plans right away. There is no waiting for a return call or e-mail.
3. You must actually find the agent
Shopping for a travel agent is a lot like shopping for any type of assistant. You want to find the perfect one for you and your family. You want someone who preferably specializes in the type of travel you enjoy, someone who makes you feel comfortable, and someone with good credentials.
This kind of search for the perfect travel agent takes time and patience, which you might not have. And, even if you find a travel agent you think you like, you could still burn yourself in the end.
4. They are not perfect for instant changes.
If you’re the kind of traveler who really enjoys flying by the seat of your pants while traveling, it won’t be that easy when you have a travel agent. See a cool restaurant that you suddenly want to try? Calling your agent, just to have your agent call the restaurant where you already have a reservation to have your reservation transferred to that new restaurant, can be overwhelming.
With no travel agent involved, you can cancel your old reservation right from your phone and walk straight into the new restaurant. Or, just skip the reservations and go with the flow.