Why You Should Use A Travel Agent

Travel agents have been around since the mid-1800s, but they’ve arguably never been more important than today.

In fact, they’re not even known as ‘agents’ anymore, but ‘advisors,’ since their roles extend far beyond simply booking trips. You’ll be thankful they have.

Just consider all the destination, flight, and amenity options available to you. In years past, you might find a great deal, block out the dates, and go. Now, you need to know every detail of your trip from start to finish. That’s where travel advisors come in.

Travel advisors are special. They continue their education, earn certifications, and conduct research to deliver the right solutions for you. In addition, travel advisors have traveled the world themselves. As genuine travel enthusiasts, they have the best firsthand knowledge and add a friendly touch that can’t be obtained from online research.

With so many variables, it’s best to rely on the professionals. You have questions. They have answers and personal investment in you to build dream vacations.

What Is A Travel Advisor?

Couple handing their passports to a travel agent
You’re likely familiar with the term ‘travel agent.’ It’s a profession that’s existed since the mid-1800s. Did you know, though, that it’s vastly outdated?

In 2019, InteleTravel followed the lead of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) in adopting ‘travel advisor’ instead.

The reason is simple: Advisors do so much more for customers than sell travel. They provide guidance at every step of the process, from pre-booking, to your return.

Advisors also study every aspect of the travel industry—including safety measures and the ins-and-outs of insurance policies—to make sure they’re providing up-to-date advice.

That’s a crucial person to lean on, now that the industry itself has shifted so much since early 2020. If you’re not familiar with advisors or ever considered using one, now’s a good time to get acquainted.

Is It Safe To Travel? Conduct Research, Ask Questions & Work With An Advisor To Decide

Woman researching on laptop
There’s no simple answer to that question, in part because there are always risks to traveling. Regardless of when and where you plan to travel, follow a process that addresses the safety measures that encompass your entire journey.

1. Conduct research.

Depending on your destination and vacation plan, it’s important to spend time researching new safety guidelines. Most airlines, hotels, resorts, and cruise lines have implemented protocols to keep travelers healthy during their trips.

Delta, for example, has introduced Delta CareStandard, which outlines its safety measures from pre-flight to landing. Palace Resorts, with locations across Mexico and Jamaica, encourages contactless check-in and has strict health protocols for staff and visitors.

If you’re heading to a city, follow the local mandates, wear a mask, and pick up food from drive-throughs or other pick-ups rather than eating at restaurants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has also compiled guidelines on how to travel safely via road, train, and plane.

2. Ask the following questions: Where would you like to go, and what would you like to do?

Whether domestic or international, destinations are at different stages of ‘open.’ Travel industry intelligence firm Skift’s “Reopening Travel: A Global Timeline” report is a great resource for that. If you have a dream location in mind but it has strict guidelines in place, it might be best to delay your trip or book well in advance.

Then again, if you’re more interested in outdoor excursions—hiking, beach time, or boating—than fine dining and urban exploration, those activities reduce the likelihood of crowds and can be enjoyed relatively safely.

3. Talk to an expert travel advisor.

Why try to find all the answers yourself when there are experts who are here to help?

Turn to a travel advisor to figure out when it’s safe to travel again. Whether you want to book something for this summer, or seek help figuring out next year’s vacation, tap into our network of extensively trained experts. They can answer questions such as:

  • Given your location, what options are available to you?
  • What safety measures are being taken in the destinations you’re interested in?
  • What rights do you have if you need to cancel a trip due to an outbreak?
  • What if you want to book a trip now, but you decide to postpone it?

The Dos & Don’ts Of Booking a Trip With a Travel Advisor

Travel Advisor on laptop

When you work with a travel advisor, you’re getting a custom-designed vacation to suit your needs, often with the added benefits of insider information about your destination, and even discounts on accommodations and activities.

That said, we travel advisors are human after all, which means there are things we can—and cannot—help you with. Here are the dos and don’ts of booking a trip with a travel advisor.

DO: Consider what kind of trip you want to take before talking to an advisor.

Every traveler is different, so when you work with a travel advisor, don’t assume they can read your mind. Your trip to Cancún is going to look wildly different from someone else’s trip there, so before you expect your advisor to begin planning, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you going with a group or on your own? If you’ll be with a group, what kind? Family? Laid-back friends? A wild bachelor party?
  • What do you like to do with your free time? Are you active, or a beach bum? Do you like museums and city centers, or are you an off-the-beaten-path kind of traveler? What kind of food and drinks do you usually go for—street food or fine dining?
  • How long is your trip going to be?
  • Roughly when will it take place? Is there any flexibility with these dates?<

These questions and more will all inform what your advisor proposes.

DON’T: Expect your advisor to plan a trip without your input.

The best part of working with a travel advisor is building a relationship over time and planning better and better vacations as you get to know one another. And while advisors will do the heavy lifting when it comes to logistics, searching for deals, booking, and communicating with tour operators, airlines, and other transportation operators for you, they still need input along the way.

Think of it this way: There are two three-star resorts in the same area of Jamaica where you want to stay. Both are similarly priced and have most of the amenities you’ve been looking for. But at the end of the day, only you know which of the two you’ll prefer, so your advisor is going to present you with these options and let you have final say.

As your relationship develops, your advisor will very likely become quite adept at predicting your wants and needs, and may even be able to guess which accommodations, tours, and whatnot you prefer—but they’ll always defer to your final decision to guarantee you the vacation of your dreams.

DO: Sketch out your budget before talking to them.

Before speaking to your advisor about your trip, you should have a rough idea of how much you want to spend when all is said and done regarding airfare, accommodations, food/drink, and activities.

Make sure any budget you come up with has wiggle room, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your advisor to ask questions such as: “How much is the average three-star hotel room in the Bahamas?” or “What is the cost of a week-long car rental in Miami?”

Once they’ve addressed any questions you may have, you’ll be able to get a better idea of what you’re looking to spend, which will give your advisor, in turn, a better idea of what tour groups, hotels, and other partners they can talk to about planning your trip.

DON’T: Expect your advisor to work budgetary miracles.

One of the biggest benefits of working with a travel advisor is getting access to impressive deals you otherwise wouldn’t be offered. Advisors work hard to build relationships with tour operators, hotels, airlines, restaurants, and more, so they can give you your dream vacation for an affordable price.

That said, your advisor cannot get you into a five-star hotel for $100 per night, unless perhaps they themselves own the hotel. And last-minute reservations to a hot new restaurant with a six-month waiting list? Not likely. So definitely take advantage of your advisor’s expertise and connections, but don’t expect miracles.

DO: Rely on your advisor for travel tips and cost-saving deals with their partners.

Advisors spend years cultivating relationships in the travel industry, often resulting in exclusive deals and cost savings for their clients. (That’s you!) They also get to know the regions their clients most often visit like the backs of their hands. That means they have insider insights into things such as local culture, shortcuts, hidden spots that haven’t yet been discovered by other tourists, and any other tips that will make your trip easier.

Feel free to ask your advisor: “What kind of clothing should I wear if I’m visiting Punta Cana in February?” or “We really wanted to see the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, is there a good time of year to go so we can avoid crowds?”

DON’T: Sweat the small stuff—your advisor has you covered.

Missed the connecting flight? Van never picked you up for your scheduled tour? Reservations at that swanky restaurant accidentally booked for the wrong time? These things happen, and they’re undoubtedly stressful, especially when you’re far from home.

The beautiful thing about working with a travel advisor, however, is that you don’t have to sweat the small things. You can instead reach out to your advisor and let them know the problem, and they’ll use their industry contacts to come up with a speedy, satisfying solution.

Yes, Travel Agents Are Worth It

Travel advisor typing on computer
When the subject of travel agents comes up, there’s an inevitable follow-up: Are they worth it? We say, “Yes!” 

Why? There are so many variables involved with travel: How to score great deals, find the perfect destination, upgrade amenities, and prepare for any unforeseeable issues. Who wouldn’t want someone in their corner through it all? Let’s go through three ways travel agents are worth it.

1. You don’t pay them.

How much does a travel agent cost? That’s a little tough to answer. When you work with an advisor, you don’t actually pay them (really!). They get a commission through their sales, and  work to find the right deal for you so you return to them each time you travel.

2. They advise you.

They’re so much more than ‘agents.’ The industry term is actually “travel advisor,” because they advise you every step of the way. That means a few different things. You might go to an advisor with a specific dream vacation in mind, or perhaps just an idea—and the advisor finds the perfect option. Advisors may also change your mind about a particular destination, and recommend something you weren’t even aware of. It’s meant to be a conversational, friendly process.

3. They’re resources before and after you book travel.

Have you ever tried to get someone on the phone when your flight’s been canceled out of the blue? Do you have lingering questions about your itinerary when you arrive at your destination? Your advisors are there for you. They’re resources at every stage of your trip, and ready to answer the call whenever you hit the road, or skies, again.

How Travel Agents Save You Money

Beach with chairs and umbrellas
Despite the proliferation of discount flight and hotel websites, travel agents play an important role in the industry and represent a budget-friendly option for would-be tourists. They save you money, time, and energy. Here’s how!

They don’t charge you fees.

Well, some do, but InteleTravel’s Travel Advisors don’t. 

Instead, our advisors make money from commissions paid by the vendor or supplier you book with. That means no extra cost to you.

You won’t overpay.

We know, we know. There are plenty of booking sites that guarantee low or no fees, and the best prices on the market. However, on many occasions, you’ll pay less when working with an agent than if you were booking on your own.

Travel agents have the inside scoop and spend a lot of time and energy cultivating industry relationships, so they’re always finding the best deals possible. It’s an industry secret that booking engines actually don’t always offer the best deals.

They’ll avoid common mistakes.

Since you likely don’t plan trips every day, it can be easy to make mistakes, and those can cost you money. What if you book the wrong group excursion, or accidentally reserve your hotel for the wrong dates? A travel agent won’t have this issue, and their knowledge will likely save you money.

They can get you extra perks.

Their industry relationships translate to discounted prices, VIP upgrades, or perks—at no extra cost. If you thought an upgrade was out of the question, think again. Then ask your agent.

They can find packages and group rates.

Travel agents will be able to save you even more money by bundling flights, hotels, and other aspects of your trip. Traveling with a large group? They’ll find savings while also ensuring you’re all on the same flights—and sitting together, too!

You Need A Travel Agent If You’re Booking Group Travel

Group of young people jumping together into water
If you’ve ever attempted to schedule brunch over a group text, you’ve probably dealt with the nightmare of trying to find a date, time, and location that works best for everyone. Now imagine doing that for something as important and logistically challenging as a group vacation.

That’s where a good travel agent comes in. They save you time, money, and the hassle of figuring out logistics. Here are the top reasons why you should use a travel agent for group travel.

Travel agents will save you money.

Travel agents can find tours that suit your needs (that aren’t otherwise listed publicly), leverage their relationships with different travel partners (airlines and hotels) to find discounts, and even score you upgrades and unlisted perks. (Champagne upon check-in, anyone?) 

Finally, when you use a travel agent, you can book by putting down deposits rather than paying up front. That means your group can choose where to go, where to stay, and what to do without worrying about immediate costs.

Travel agents will take care of the logistics.

You don’t need a member of your group to be a glorified event planner to schedule a nice vacation that works for everyone. Travel agents can find flights for all members of your group and work with each individual’s needs, whether they be budget- or time-based. They’ll also be able to book room blocks, and spell out any documentation needs individuals may have. For example, say you’re going to an international destination, and one of your friends has a passport from a country that has visa requirements. They schedule your trip from start to finish, in a time- and money-saving manner.

Travel agents can make recommendations, saving you the tension of an argument.

Say you and a friend really want to go whitewater rafting, while the other two members of your group would rather have a spa day. All four of you agree that you don’t want to spend a day apart. Travel agents are trained to be able to advise you on alternate locations, solutions to logistical problems, and anything else that might occur. They might even be able to find whitewater rafting hosted by a hotel that has a spa.

Travel agents can help fix any hiccups or mistakes.

Your travel agent doesn’t just book flights and accommodations. They advocate for you, if need be. Say one of your friends’ flights gets cancelled, or you schedule a group tour, and the tour company only reserves five seats when you actually need six. Instead of wasting precious vacation time on the phone, you can alert your travel agent, and they will talk to airlines, tour operators, and whoever else on your behalf. Just focus on having a fun time with your friends.

Travel Agents Will Help You Avoid These Mistakes

Closeup of hands pointing to locations on a map

From forgetting important paperwork to staying put in the tourist zone, there are many ways to bungle a trip—all of which you can avoid if you work with a travel agent.

Not Looking Up Visa Information

Imagine booking a flight for your dream vacation months in advance and waiting eagerly. When the day finally arrives, you hop on your flight, and when you disembark, customs asks for your visa. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to go back home. 

This happens more often than you might think, by and large because online booking engines don’t require visa confirmation or include visa information when you buy tickets. 

If you work with an agent, however, they will tell you exactly what you need. Visas, passports, whatever else you need—your agent will let you know before you purchase a single thing.

Overstretching Yourself by Overbooking Your Itinerary

One common mistake travelers make is trying to fit too much into their itineraries. Yes, you only have so much time to explore your destination, and that means trying to maximize every moment. But that doesn’t mean you have to do everything.

The best trips allow for flexibility. Our agents are experts at developing itineraries that are fun but not overloaded, meaning you’ll return home actually rested and relaxed. Plus, they can help you reschedule excursions, in case any fun new opportunities pop up.

Relying Too Heavily on Guide Books 

Relying solely on a guide book will limit your experiences to the recommendations of the person who researched your destination, and the pricing and scheduling information and restaurants/bars available at the time it was printed.

Travel agents build contacts all over the world, meaning they have access to activities and information you won’t find in a guide book. New restaurant openings, unlisted tour groups, and new hotels (and perhaps a discount or two) are all in the cards when you work with an agent.

Exchanging Currency at the Airport

This is the kind of thing that gets overlooked when you’re booking on your own, but when you have an expert to advise you, they’ll remind you of all the little ways to save money, including money exchange. Agents can find the best exchange rates in your destination city or even advise you on local banks in your area that will do low-cost exchanges in the currency you need. 

Not Researching the Local Culture & Climate

What should you wear? What rules are there? What is the etiquette when it comes to dining, drinking—heck, even just walking around? What is the busiest time of year to visit? Is it the same as the best time of year to visit? And what will the weather be like when you get there? 

These are all exactly the kinds of inquiries travel agents can answer.

Booking Complicated Flights to Save Money & Wasting Time Instead

Time is money. At least, that’s how the old adage goes. Which is why it’s important to spend a little bit more if it means additional time to enjoy your trip. Travel agents can explore all logistical options to make sure you minimize your transit time and maximize your exploring time without blowing your budget.

Travel Agents & Travel Insurance

Couple reading map while on vacation
Travel agents help with all of your vacation plans. They also prove indispensable for unplanned events. The list of things that could go wrong with travel is exhaustive. There are mechanical issues with planes that cause delays. There are extreme shifts in weather that could cancel a flight or have you miss a connection. Then there’s the ever-present possibility of getting sick at the wrong time. 

No matter the unfortunate circumstance, you shouldn’t have to worry about the steps to take next. Travel agents are a great resource for this, and during the booking process, will recommend the best travel insurance plan for you. Here just a handful of the travel insurance questions they can answer for you. 

Who should get travel insurance? 

The short answer is everybody. You never know what events can affect your trips, and better yet, you want to have solutions and a plan to recoup your losses should you lose time, luggage, or an entire vacation. 

Doesn’t the airline have me covered? 

This is a narrow way of looking at travel. Airlines might get you on the next available flight, but they don’t necessarily take care of hotel stays or lost meals. It’s best to have a comprehensive protection plan that covers all aspects of your trip. 

Isn’t Insurance too expensive? 

If you look at the insurance as an upfront cost, it might appear like an unnecessary add-on to an already expensive purchase. Instead, consider the cost per day. Let’s say you’re offered a $100 insurance plan for a 10-day vacation. Would you pay $10 per day for peace of mind, especially when emergencies could prove far more costly than that? You probably would. 

Aren’t all plans the same? 

No, they aren’t. Not all insurance providers are the same and nor are vacations. You wouldn’t necessarily purchase the same plan for a domestic resort that you would for a two-week European excursion. That’s why it’s so important to work with a reputable company. Your travel agent can help in this regard by talking you through the plan options, and finding the right one for you that fits your budget and protects you if and when things go awry.

Use a specialized travel advisor to help you book your dream vacation.

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