I've had some excellent, valid questions this week about being a Travel Agent. I figured I'd post about it since I'm trying to be better at this blog thing. So here are a few common myths and probably some details you maybe didn't know about Travel Agents.
#5. "They charge so much $$$$!!" or "It costs more to use a travel agent than it is to book on your own." - Mostly false. Some will charge fees, some don't. Some only charge in certain circumstances (like if there's some complexity to the trip). It's always good to inquire if a travel agent has fees, but it's not necessarily a bad thing if they do. Most agents don't earn salaries - they work off commission. Did you know that airlines no longer offer travel agents commission? So when a TA helps you book your flights and helps you manage any issues with airlines, they aren't getting paid for that service they are providing unless they charge a fee for it. Some fees are refundable and some are not. And that's because it guards the agent from spending time and not getting paid for it. Typically, agents don't get paid until after the trip happens. Unfortunate things happen. And if a trip is cancelled, the agent doesn't get paid.
Imagine spending months working for your boss and at the last minute, the project is cancelled and you don't get paid for the time you spent on it.
As for booking on your own, travel agents often use the same booking engines and see the same pricing for trips that the general public sees. But sometimes, they may even be able to find those specials/promotions that you didn't know were out there too. And again, most often, they aren't charging for their services. So there's no additional cost to using a TA.
#4. Travel agents get to go anywhere for free - again, false. Agents are required to meet minimum sales, training, or review requirements before being eligible for some discounts. Many times there are limits on these discounts too and don't often include family members.
#3. Travel Agents always give On-Board Credit for cruises. - Mostly false. Some bigger box companies can afford to do this because they rebate some or all of the commission. Average agents are unable to do this as the commission is their livelihood. Some may offer some OBC as a special promotion themselves, but they are likely giving this out of their own commission.
#2. Travel Agents are just out to make money and/or take your money. - False. Absolutely false. I've never met a group of professionals who's goal is to make LESS money by getting you deals or promotions. Like I said earlier, TA's work on commission. And while some people may think this just encourages TA's to offer the most expensive options out there that don't fit your needs, they couldn't be more wrong. TA's also work off of referrals. It's a HEAVY referral based profession. When there's a bad apple out there, EVERYONE knows about it, especially in these days of social media. It can break a business. TA's are on call almost all day (and even into the evenings) and often are up at the pre-dawn hours to be sure they are best serving their clients.
#1. Travel Agents aren't needed anymore. - Mostly false. I won't pretend that you can't do much of what travel agents do on your own. But why do all that work yourself? Why not have someone who specializes in that field do that work for you while you do other things?
We can do our own taxes, but often, even with software, we miss details that could have saved us money if we had just gone to a professional.
We can certainly cut our own hair, but isn't it nice to sit back and let someone else give you that relaxing wash and make sure that the cut is even?
You could certainly sell or buy your own house, but don't you feel more secure knowing that someone who knows the neighborhoods implicitly, understands the legalities/costs, and listens to your needs is helping you find that perfect home?
Why not do the same with your vacation? You are likely going to invest and spend a considerable amount of money on your trip. Why not give it the same attention you give for all your other needs.
Fact: We work our darnedest for you. Our brains are on full tilt just about all the time. We even work during our own vacations since time is sensitive in the nature of our business.
We care - A LOT! This is not just our livelihood but it's YOUR trip! It's about making wonderful memories! We want that for you very much and don't want anything to minimize or ruin it. We plan your trips as if they are our own.
I hope this alleviates some of the typical concerns people have about using a Travel Agent.
I look forward to helping you plan YOUR special trip!
What started out as a fun hobby of planning Disney trips has EXPLODED into a full time career as a Travel Agent. Offering cruises, all-inclusive resorts, guided trips - as well as Disney, Universal, and other theme parks, my passion is to make EVERY trip a Magical Adventure.