Advantages of Using a Travel Agent vs Booking Online

With the ever-increasing technological advancements made in online booking engines, the debate over the advantages of using a travel agent vs booking online has never been greater.

With a wealth of information available at our fingertips, travellers can look for deals and make travel arrangements online—but not without some pitfalls.

So, today, to help those considering their next vacation or business trip, we will analyse how well online booking engines stack up compared to a travel agent’s interactive experience and personal approach.

Travel Agent
A savvy travel agent offers many advantages over booking online

Expertise versus automated results

Not just anyone – a trained someone. A travel consultant or advisor has made it their business to know travel. As in any industry, it’s a prerequisite for many agencies that consultants undergo formal training and have done a significant amount of personal travel to qualify for employment.

So, when you book through a travel agent, you speak to a consultant who has invested a significant amount of time and money in getting to know the travel and tourism industry. Travellers can draw from a wealth of experience from a pool of consultants and offer insights and guidance on any destination.

As consultants constantly learn and hone their industry knowledge, they can provide timely advice on the best routes, when to fly, transport, accommodation, things to do and even visa requirements at your travel destination.

A good travel agent knows their stuff. Got a complicated round-the-world itinerary? A skilled consultant knows what airlines go to which destinations and the connections along the route. Got an itinerary with tricky connections, multiple stops, or far-flung destinations? An experienced consultant can problem-solve your itinerary needs and offer you solutions online booking engines can not provide.

Travel agents and customer service

No one would argue automated service provide no personalisation and no human interaction. As humans, we love to interact—and there’s nothing better than an immediate response to your questions or concerns from a knowledgeable consultant.

There are many reasons why booking through an agent goes beyond what a booking engine can deliver; here are just some of them;

There are many reasons why booking through an agent goes beyond what a booking engine can deliver; here are just some of them;

  1. Personalised approach—a travel consultant takes the time to get to know you and your personal needs, preferences, physical limitations and budget—good old-fashioned customer service.
  2. Hold bookings—for those not quite ready to commit and worried about losing a special rate, you’ll be happy to hear that agents can hold a seat or room availability for you while you firm up your plans. They can even let you know when a deals is about to expire—that’s peace of mind a booking engine can’t offer.
  3. Travel advice—a travel consultant will offer you timely advice on travel restrictions, answer questions, and advise you of any travel warnings and recommendations to get the most out of your trip.
  4. Travel Hiccups—when things go wrong, nothing beats the personalised service of a travel agent to help you out of a jam due to flight cancellations, rescheduling, missed flights or an overlooked visa requirement.
  5. Save You Money—a travel consultant will work hard to find you the best flights or packages for your budget and save you money, something a booking engine can’t do.
  6. Go that extra mile—planning a honeymoon or anniversary getaway? Agents can offer personalised service to ensure your trip is as memorable as possible.

Travel agents can save you time and money

Time is life’s most precious commodity; no wonder why the preservation of personal time is important to so many. Studies show that, on average, travellers spend up to 30 hours researching and preparing for their holiday and visit up to 38 sites before making a reservation. That’s a significant time investment and might raise the following questions;

  • How much do you value your time?
  • Why waste your precious time trawling the internet for deals?
  • Is the time you spend trying to save a few hundred dollars worth the investment?

A travel agent will spare you the headaches, confusion and frustration of visiting multiple websites looking for the best flight deals. Plus, travel agents can offer timely advice on visa travel requirements for each stop along the way, plus stop-over attractions, accommodation, car rental and much more.

What’s more, skilled travel agents can fully access a wide variety of deals and discounts often not available online at unbeatable rates—you get all of this at a price tailored to your budget. You can focus on your vacation or business trip without worrying about logistics.

For example, one First Class agent recently negotiated a holiday at a five-star resort in Dubai for a 20-night stay, saved the client $15k and negotiated an upgrade from a ‘breakfast only’ rate to a ‘half board’ rate.

Finally, although it’s impossible to beat online prices every time (especially when suppliers offer little to zero commission), creative, savvy agents can negotiate for you in ways that automated booking engines simply can not.

Rest assured, your agents got your back

Travel mishaps, cancellations and missed flights do occur from time to time. At First Class, customers are assured that if something goes wrong during their trip, we are here to help. Your consultant is your point of contact—so if you are unlucky enough to be stuck in a foreign country with a lost passport or stolen wallet, we’ve got your back.

For example, many will remember the volcanic ash cloud incident of 2010—a massive eruption in Iceland emptied the airspace from Iceland to Finland. agents were invaluable to clients returning home from London and other ports. During such events having a travel agent doubles up as another form of travel insurance. Without an agent, you are on your own!

Perks for customer loyalty

Enjoy being rewarded for your loyalty? Some agents offer enticements such as value-added services for customer loyalty. A membership, for example, includes the following:

  • Annual travel planning.
  • Priority access to promotional offers.
  • Invitations to exclusive travel and tourism events.

You’ll also receive guidance in earning and redeeming frequent flyer points and even earning rewards for referring family and friends.

Agents can develop great relationships with travel partners and can ‘pull strings’ like getting a waitlist on the last seat on your preferred flight cleared. A travel agent can call out their allocation on an accommodation type you saw online but was full.

A great consultant can get an upgrade on a car category you were hoping to secure. Sometimes the little things matter the most and make a world of difference on your much-deserved holiday or all-important business trip. It’s the sum of all these things combined that’s not possible via online booking engines.

Your travel agent is your travel personal assistant

Having a travel agent is like having a personal travel assistant! Your agent can take care of all your travel requirements—it’s like a one-stop shop. Travel consultants are trained to remove the frustration and confusion most travellers associate with booking online—allowing you to focus on what’s important.

Travel consultants deliver far more value to customers than online booking engines, and they do so competitively. Even in those rare circumstances when we might not be the cheapest deal you can find—you will have the security of having a real-life support team to guide you through your journey.

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