When Should I Use A Travel Agent?

In Stories
In the last few years many of us have become “do it yourself” experts, dabbling in diverse fields that eluded most “average joes” before technology gave us direct access to tools, step by step videos, and detailed how-tos.  Today, Wellness Mama has me saving scads of $$$ making rockin’ Kombucha from scratch, and my first complete light fixture install came via an electricity for idiots kind of video on HowStuffWorks.

So with just a few simple clicks of a mouse, I can book my own spectacular, trouble-free holiday at the lowest possible price, right?

Well yes and no. and most importantly, it depends.  As with everything in life there are advantages and disadvantages to a DIY approach so let’s cover what travel agents bring to the table first.


  • Efficiency – travelers can state their preferences, destination, dates and budget and their hard work is done!
  • Experience – face it, when you do something like organize travel all day every day, the depth and breadth of knowledge acquired, particularly if the agent specialises in a specific destination, is exponentially larger than someone who does it once or twice a year. This factor is über appealing to the millennial crowd who are, perhaps surprisingly, the most frequent users of travel agents per this recent Travel weekly article.
  • Connections – the industry someone works in, and the engaged and symbiotic relationships they create and grow in that chosen field are what set them apart from everyone outside the industry. Agents are quite similar to Guides in this regard (and in others too). Insider perks like room upgrades, hard-to-get restaurant reservations, and access to sold-out tours and event tickets are not uncommon occurrences for trips arranged by travel agents.
  • Access to deals & discounts – hotels, cruise lines, car rental agencies, etc., provide deeper discounts to large accounts like travel agencies than they ever would to individual shoppers.
  • Customer advocacy – travel agents are responsible for the itineraries they organize – soup to nuts – so they are your first line of defense should any deviations from the plan occur, and you, the customer, are their highest priority.

There is definitely a time and a place where DIY travel booking is a great route (no pun intended), there are also these 4 circumstances under which you will absolutely benefit from using the services of a great travel agent.  Here goes.

4. You Hate Doing Travel Research & Planning

This one is a no-brainer. Unless you pick up a newspaper and instantly spot a killer all inclusive deal, or happen across a blowout sale that you can get with a few clicks of a mouse, typically there is a fair bit of time and energy invested in travel planning and research  Some people absolutely LOVE every moment of this. For others, it’s a total pain and there’s nothing else they wouldn’t rather be doing. If you’re in this latter camp, do yourself a favor and ask around your well-traveled network of friends and acquaintances for  travel agent recommendation.

When you connect with someone good – you have set yourself up with an ally who can prove to be worth more than their weight in gold.  And if you’re a frequent traveler, the benefits are magnified! Once your travel agent know your tastes, preferences, and budget – you might not be able to recall how you managed without them.

3. You Don’t Have Time

Getting the lowest price deal with great connections & layover times, airport transfers arranged and well-priced accommodation in the right neighbourhood booked, is no small feat for a lay-person with no prior experience in a given destination. If your time is better spent elsewhere, and getting the absolute lowest price across the board is not your key objective, then a good travel agent can outperform your quick and dirty booking-slugfest any day.

2. You Are Planning For A Family or Group

It’s pretty easy booking travel yourself for one or two people when the plan is straightforward… like a package deal including hotel and flight – you enter your details once and it’s a  fait accompli!  You’re booked.  Once you factor in more people, and/or multiple destinations ,and different sets of personal preferences and restrictions – turn the mess over to someone with the right tools for the job! Believe me, once you’ve entered in someone else’s personal info for the 3rd time in glorious detail, this will begin to make perfect sense – if it doesn’t already.

Also, remember that all complaints will come to whoever made the arrangements… trust me, you don’t want this to be you when cranky-pants Aunt Esther finds out no one is acknowledging her “serious” gluten issues.

1. Your Plans Are Complicated AND You Need Peace Of Mind

Imagine someone is given some of the tools you use to do your job, and then left to do it. Chances are they will have trouble doing it anywhere near as well as you do, because years of experience in an industry pays off in any number of ways. When your travel plans are not 100% straightforward, and unless you do this for a living yourself, you can seriously benefit from having an advocate on your side who has only your best interest as motivation.

You see this quite regularly at airports when that unfortunate circumstance of a cancelled flights occurs, and some of the waiting people just make one phone call with confidence, while others race around from counter to counter to wifi hotspot furiously trying to reorganize entire itineraries on the fly. If by chance something like this happens on your travel agent organized trip, the agent is there to recover the situation for you.

At that moment, which traveler would you want to be?

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