Why use a Travel Agent?

Use a travel agent because they provide professional service for free.

The following is an open letter from Joseph A. Watters, President of Crystal Cruises:

Dear Traveller,

“Why should I use a travel agent?” As a veteran travel executive, that’s a question I’m often asked. Today, with the overwhelming number of sources for travel information, it’s no wonder the consumer is confused. Yet that’s precisely why the services of a professional travel consultant are more valuable than ever.

In January, the television news magazine 20/20 reported the results of a test in which travel agents beat consumers at uncovering the best airfares. However, it is much more than the “lowest fare” that provides the compelling argument for a good travel agent.

The best thing an agent can do is to match up a traveler with the vacation that’s right for them. The professional travel consultant builds relationships with their clients to learn their interests and lifestyles, as well as their dispositions.

Below is a list of some of the important services, which are either provided free or for a nominal charge, by travel agents:

  1. Distilling the product information: Through an on-going and time-consuming process of familiarization, continuing education and customer feedback, the agent becomes a travel expert.
  2. Investigating and supplying competitive information: No single supplier is going to advise a consumer that a better route or a better fare is available on a competing carrier.
  3. Staying abreast of the most current and timely promotions: Via daily faxes, agent-only e-mail transmissions, and their relationships with their district sales managers, agents are obtaining the most current promotional information.
  4. Analyzing the current promotions: The cheapest is not always the best.
  5. Clarifying the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions: Again, the benefits of a professional’s experience can save a traveler money … and headaches.
  6. Making recommendations for travel-related options: Travel agents share the experience and knowledge they accumulate about a variety of travel topics – from where to eat, where to shop and what to pack.
  7. Simplifying the research and subsequent transaction: Like a personal shopper, agents can provide one-stop shopping for travelers who require air arrangements, rental cars, cruise accommodations and hotel stays – with suggestions that are in the best interest of the client, not the supplier.
  8. Enhancing the trip with value-added benefits and amenities: Agents an add to the client’s experience by sending a bottle of wine, providing a special land package, a specific escort or other customer amenities.
  9. Using their clout to obtain the best possible in seemingly impossible situations: Whether it’s airline seats, hotel rooms or cruise space, the travel agent has more buying power than the consumer.
  10. Getting problems resolved: The agent serves as the consumer’s advocate in the event something inadvertently goes wrong.

The use of outside service providers for many transactions, such as tax preparation, isn’t questioned. Similarly, if one is going to spend hundresd or thousands of dollars, as well as a good chunk of valuable leisure time, it makes great sense to use a professional.

Sincerely,
JOSEPH A. WATTERS
President – Crystal Cruises

By using the services of a travel agent, you are getting additional value from your travel dollar. The hotel or cruise line or tour provider pays the agent a commission, something they will not pay the consumer. Thus the consumer receives the professional services of a travel agent at no additional cost. Furthermore, the prices available for a professional agent to book are as good as or better than those available to the consumer. Using a travel agent is a win-win proposition!