As we turn the calendar to 2018, technology now is a part of our daily lives. As some in older generations attempt to be romantic to old ways, they have been destroyed more times than not. We are now able to book travel from a device in our pockets, which is crazy to think about! So, are travel agents still useful?
Are Travel Agents Still Useful?
I took a visit to my local AAA office with my fiancé/travel buddy, and found out that I have a professional travel agent with my yearly membership! How crazy!
Her name is Nanette and she has been a travel agent for the past 15 years. I’ve had many friends ask me “Are travel agents still useful?” so I decided to interview her!
Travel Agents and the Internet
How has the Internet changed your job as a travel agent?
“There is an app for everything. You have the world at your fingertips. Why not do it yourself? I ask – Why would you do it yourself? Well, you can but there is a whole world out there and what do you do to sift through all of the data? For me, it really comes down to time. As a travel agent, it is my job to properly advise my clients on any information that could affect them and their travels.”
With our Free App Friday series, we are reviewing some of these apps that are disrupting and molding the travel experience.
Price doesn’t always equal best
With the evolution of the internet, how have your clients become different? Do they want different thing than before the internet?
“Clients have more knowledge than ever before at their fingertips. Yes… they want the cheapest at Internet pricing. That is where an expert’s advice can help! Cheapest is not always better!”
Travel Agents and Busting Myths!
There are many myths associated with travel agents. One of them being is that “they are for the older crowd.”
So I asked her, “Travel agents are stereotypically associated with an older demographic. Does this hold true for your clientele?”
She states that “the value of an agent is really based on what the agent can bring to the table”.
I find this to be true. There is a TON of info online, but it also can take a TON of time to find. Your agent may have that available on hand and can give you an answer quicker than searching for the answer yourself.
Travel agent – OTA horror stories
Next, I asked her about the large amount of OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Priceline.
With Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s), another stereotype is “travel agents are useless now”.
How is this untrue in the age of people being able to book their own travel?
Nanette suggested that “with the online horror stories, travel agents can change that stereotype.”
I definitely agree as there are unfortunate stories like these that have people questioning the Internet. Recent studies have shown that people still favor using travel agents rather than OTA’s.
Common Travel Mistakes from a Travel Agent
Next, I asked about common mistakes that drive her crazy and how they can be avoided.
She said that her pain point is people “booking a hotel that is ‘centrally located’ online only to find it is miles from town and want me to help them fix it. There are also airline horror stories of layovers or cities you connect through that are a nightmare. Navigating online travel and fixing mistakes can be costly lessons.”
For the miles and points
I had to ask her perspective on people that love points and miles travel.
How can working with a travel agent help them get even more value?
“If you are willing to pay the agent for their time and if the travel agent knows what they are doing, it will save you hours and headaches. Finding the right agent is key!”
She hinted that not any travel agent is the best for anyone and their needs.
“Interview them (the agent) to see if you can connect. And if you feel they have the knowledge to get the best experience.”
The Bald Thoughts
So, are travel agents still useful? From my own experience, travel agents do still serve a great purpose for avid travelers. At the end of the day, they can save people time and money, and that is very important to us.
Whether it be a price check, suggestions for places to stay, or increasing the value of your miles – travel agents see things many of us can’t! The internet travel marketplace is extremely transparent for pricing and reviews. However, your local agent may be able to get you an extra perk or two and recommend an enjoyable activity that you may not have found otherwise.
Do you use your local AAA travel agent? Or another travel agencies local to you? Let’s hear your travel agent stories in the comments!