But, the facts are in: Although boomers spend the most on travel, millennials — the fastest growing segment of the travel industry — use a travel agent more frequently. About one-third of them say they book with a travel agent.
Reason 1: Personal Service Is Easy To Find
Like most service-based purchases, personal referrals are a great way to find an agent that’s right for you. You’ll also find them on staff at your local AAA location, or try Travel Leaders for an agent who specializes in the area you want to go to. Or, just do a Google search.
If you are looking into a premium travel rewards card, Capital One Venture or a Chase Sapphire Preferred offers complimentary access to a travel concierge for cardholders at no additional fee.
In the elite-travel space, scale can convey value: Virtuoso contracts with more than 1,000 luxury hotels, cruise lines and tour operators, which translates into more perks for clients.
Reason 2: A Small Fee Saves A Lot of Hassle
Exactly how travel agents make money today has undergone an internet-driven sea change. Although smaller, they still receive commissions from hotels, cruise and tour companies. Always compare their quotes to what you find online.
You can expect to pay a fee of as little as $25 for a domestic flight booking, to $100 per hour for an agent’s time and expertise in planning your entire vacation.
Fees can be offset by deals or incentives that an agent has exclusive access to. Even without this, the cost might be well worth it when you consider the time it takes to personally research flights, accommodations, and develop a sightseeing itinerary.
With established clients, agents often toss in perks or upgrades. Ever wonder why the couple next door was greeted with a bottle of wine in their room? They might have booked via a travel agent.
Reason 3: Expertise Gives Peace of Mind
If you love spending hours in online research, you might never need a travel agent. But, if you have neither the time nor the interest to sift through options and reviews, using an agent for involved or hard-to-reach destination travel is for you.
An agent with native-born experience, or who has personally traveled extensively within a region, can be invaluable. They will be able to book you into places you won’t be able to find on your own. And their guidance will help you maximize your vacation time, money and memories.
Along those lines, if you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip where you want everything to be perfect, booking with a travel agent will give you peace of mind.
Reason 4: Insider Access
Agents have access to weather delay notifications before you do, making it easier for them to rebook itineraries in the event of a delay or disaster.
An agent can also present travel insurance policy options, although you should do your own online price comparisons. If anything goes wrong en route, you have a knowledgeable crisis manager who can go to bat for you immediately, 24/7.
Reason 5: It Can Save You Money
Not only can you get travel alerts galore these days on virtually everything, but flexibility for last-minute discounted travel probably beats out the cost of anything an agent can offer. But …
Conversely, if you can book a year or so ahead, you often can find significant savings on cruises and other packaged-travel offerings. If it’s a big buy, why not check with a travel agent to see if they can match, or in some other way, enhance your dream vacation? Especially with cruises, they might finesse a cabin upgrade or travel voucher.
One Potential Drawback: When you use a travel agency, your payment method will be cash, not points.