Why Work with a Travel Agent?

Why should you work with a travel agent?

Maybe we should call him/her a travel consultant.

Travel Agents save their clients both time and money. An average of $452 and four planning hours per trip. (This is based on a 2016 survey.)

They work to get the best fare, the best rate, and the best experience for their clients. This is because they have access to deals that the average traveler does not know about.

This based on another survey in April 2016 tapping into experiences of 14,000 U.S. households. This survey received 3000 responses. Their average household income was greater than $50,000 and consisted of travelers who had traveled overnight in paid accommodations for leisure travel.

Why spend four weeks planning your one-week vacation? Turn the research over to an agent who has almost unlimited data at his/her fingertips.

Agents attempt to learn as much about their clients’ likes and desires as possible. They then can suggest a venue and a specific itinerary based on criteria like interest, cost, amount of time available, even food allergies.

Remember the first time you had taken a subway in a foreign city, couldn’t read the signs, and didn’t know which exit to use as you arrived at your desired station? It could be the exact opposite corner of where you intended to go when you got to the surface on that long escalator ride. Then you hop in a taxi whose driver really “takes you for a ride.” He might even take you to the wrong hotel saying he didn’t understand what you wanted, and then charged you more to take you to the right hotel.

How much time is wasted, not knowing the city? What dangers might you encounter by going to the wrong sector of this strange city?

Often best attractions have long admission lines. If you were with me on our northern Italian tour a few years ago, you may remember the long line snaking around the Roman Coliseum and how the guide and I were able to get you past all that with our pre-paid vouchers. The same experience entering the Vatican Museum and the Uffizi Museum in Florence. Our guide in Florence let me know that the Accademia was free on Tuesday evenings at 7 and we easily walked from our hotel after an early dinner and had Michelangelo’s David and The Prisoners all to ourselves for a few minutes before the crowds arrived.

By not having to stand in a long line gives you more time to view the sites you really want to see and not waste valuable time to gain admission or waiting for public transportation.

In our group trip to southern France, we took the high-speed train right from Charles deGaulle airport and we had our tickets and assigned seats already to avoid the hassle of trying to convince the ticket seller what we wanted.

In 2001, on our group trip to the People’s Republic of China, I had scheduled a short train trip from Guangchou to Hong Kong and had reserved seats in a single carriage. When we got to the train station, our Chinese agent could not enter the station, and we found out that our particular car was out of service. But we had Yan Bai (my fellow instructor at Grand Rapids Community College at the time who was born in China) and he negotiated seats in other carriages for all 33 of us. Could you have done this on your own? Did you even know that we had this “crisis?”

I have heard detractors say that they want to “travel like a local,” by staying in hostels, using public transportation exclusively, eating in non-tourist restaurants, shopping in local stores. All well and good if you speak the language and have lots of free time.  I really enjoy speaking to locals – if we can communicate — and do not like to put my clients in an insulated, sound-proof bubble jostling with just other tourists at key tourist spots just to get that quick snapshot and then move on to the next spot. I would rather travel in the company of locals rather than travel like a local.