Just about anyone can book travel online, but any traveler can benefit from the services of a knowledgeable travel agent. Even the most experienced traveler needs an agent’s help when planning a complex trip, or to make sure they receive the best value for their travel dollars.
For beginning travelers, the guidance and expertise of a travel agent is an immeasurable help in creating a smooth and memorable travel experience.Travel agents provide value in many ways, such as helping you sort through myriad travel options to find the ones that are right for you. Agents can provide insider knowledge of destinations and the best way to get there. They also have access to itineraries – and prices – that are not available to the general public. Unlike a search engine, an agent will have a full understanding of your travel needs and preferences, and will be there to help if you encounter any problems along the way.
So, how does a beginning traveler begin to find a travel agent?
Rely on word of mouth or Vacation.com
One way to find a travel agent is to ask your friends and family members to recommend an agent who has done a good job for them. If your friends and family don’t travel much, or if you just want to search on your own, and take a look at our robust travel agent search engine.
Decide if it’s more important to work with an agent who’s local or an agent who specializes.
Working with a local agent has advantages: most of us are used to communicating via email and text message, but it can be nice to be face-to-face with your agent if you want to talk over some vacation ideas, work out itinerary details or pick up tickets. However, if you’re interested in a certain type of travel or a specific destination, you may want to work with an agent who is located elsewhere, but who has in-depth knowledge of that type of travel or region of the world.
Interview the agents you’re interested in
Ask how long they’ve been working in travel, how they got started, where in the world they have traveled, and what they think makes them different from other agents. Ask them to tell you about their fees (agents do charge for their services, but the fees are often more than balanced out by the money the agent can save you.) If you’re not satisfied with the answers an agent provides, keep looking.
Ask agents about their training and certifications
Certifications aren’t a guarantee that an agent is a good match for you, but they do indicate that the agent is interested in continuous professional development.
Once you’ve found a travel agent to work with, work with them as often as you can.
There are benefits to being a frequent customer: for example, an agent that you work with frequently is more likely to think of you first when he or she sees a great deal for one of your favorite destinations.
However, if you notice that your agent is proposing travel options that you don’t like – such as recommending flights with more stopovers than you want, suggesting hotel chains that you don’t favor or encouraging you to visit a place you have no interest in – it may be time to restart the process of looking for an agent.
You deserve to work with an agent who listens to your feedback and is fully focused on your travel happiness and well-being!