This is a question that needs to be asked and answered. Like most things in life there are pros and cons. Here we briefly explore the question and the possible answer. Many have written that the professional travel agents days are numbered because of the proliferation of online travel booking options and the increasing ability and capability for online research.
Interestingly the successful travel agents have evolved from being simply booking people to travel consultants. They can now provide valuable advice. Online bookings are relatively simple to use but generally do not provide significant after-sales service should any aspect of the travel not follow the plan. This means that if you are visiting unfamiliar places along unfamiliar routes doing unfamiliar things, it makes a lot of sense to link with someone who you can talk with.
Here are some facts to consider:
Contrary to popular belief, travel agents will save you money some of the time, if the entire holiday cost is considered. They have access to exclusive deals from time to time and ta times have access to bulk buying. Generally, experts say that consumers get better value for money when buying through a travel agent. However, people with lots of free time and who are high flexibility in travel dates may get better deals online where there are “last-minute” needs to either fill a tour, a cruise or a holiday package.
Travel consultants will save you time. There is so much information available online and searching it takes time. They will have access to tools that help selecting and processing requests. Experts estimate that it takes 30 to 40 hours to fully research, plan and book a family trip online.
Travel agents often have special relationships with providers and vendors and can offer extras, like on-board credit on cruises or free breakfasts or free upgrade at hotels. In these cases the cost is the same as self-booking but the value is higher to most people.
Many travel agents enjoy preparing a complicated itinerary. However, some may charge a fee for the services – Check first.
Some will provide “inside information” on many aspects of your travel plans, like selecting accommodation, airlines with cheap stopovers, and tours with a special difference. The “inside information” is often quite valuable to the traveler.
They can assist with information on visa, vaccinations, travel insurance and other risk mitigation strategies.
In conclusion, the good travel consultant continues to thrive, even with the growth of online booking portals. If you are planning travel soon, consult a travel agent and see the difference.