What is an independent travel agent? Why do you still need their services in this day of age with the advancements in technology and the ease of doing everything online, shopping, banking, and even dating? So it's no surprise there is a temptation to also book your travel online.
But don't you know that survey after survey reveals that working with a travel agent to plan your holiday can save your time and money.?
What kind of trip a travel counselor would help you save your time and money? The answer is any type trip. From family vacation to adventure vacation, from short break getaway to long relaxing break. From a short flight to a long haul one. (Pic is credit to TPI)
But how? Doesn’t the cost of using an agent invalidate the savings? The answer is not at all. Let's take a look further.
Many people believe that booking online is a better option because you have the ability to check ALL the deals in no time.
The truth is, people usually spend hours analysing things and checking offers. They also have to read online reviews to figure out whether an offer is good or not. Sometimes, spending hours on the computer searching for the best travel deals gets you results -- and other times, it just leads to frustration.
On the other hand, an independent travel agent will do their best to find the most attractive deals offered by reliable sources that can’t be found online. They have links to many airline and hotel suppliers that allow them large negotiated deals – better than what travellers find in the internet
Independent travel agents are much more than persons who books a trip. They can make any vacation easier for you by streamlining your flights, accommodation, transfers, tours and visas. That way travel agents take all of the stress out of vacations. Imagine not having to worry about arranging travel, hotels, meals, and excursions. You can get what you want without having to coordinate all of the details yourself. That can end up saving you a lot of time.
What about a flight booking?
Some of you may think that there is no point to use an independent travel agent to book a flight. However, here are the stories of my clients.
Once one of my clients had been spending a week to find an international flight that fits her criteria which include; meeting the budget, flight preference, the lay over airport, maximum time of layover and number of connections. After a week of searching and she did not find what she was looking for, she phoned me if I could be of her help.
After I got all the information on what she would like to have I need her copy of her passport for me to hold any space that would fit her need. I got back to her less than an hour with 2 different options that met her criteria. More important for her also both of them cost $198 less than the cheapest fare she found on her favorite on-line booking engine. (Pic is credit to Montreal Tourism)
An independent travel agent partners with a host agency for all travel packages. But before a travel agent can provide travel services, he must learn about the tourism, invoicing system, booking system and travel industry that the training materials are provided by the host agency.
A training completion usually is a mandatory factor to be accomplished before the agent can sell the travel service. Moreover, it depends on where the agent lives in a country, some provinces or states require more certification steps prior to selling the products. They can work full-time or part-time. Independent travel counselors have their own office or at-home business
An independent travel agent who lives in Ontario - Canada must pass the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) Travel Counselor Exam to provide travel services to customers.
The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is an organization mandated by the Ontario government to administer the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05 which governs all of the approximately 2,400 travel retailers and travel wholesalers registered in Ontario.
TICO has developed its own Vision, Mission and Values in support of meeting its mandate. To be a progressive regulator advancing consumer protection, ethical business practices and a trusted marketplace where consumers are confident purchasing travel from registered professionals.
Click HERE to learn more about TICO
1. Cost and Time Savings
If you hire an independent travel agent instead of searching blindly on the Internet for hours, days, or even weeks, your consultant will do the research on every component of your trip for a very reasonable trip planning fee.
A travel consultant has the capability of better searching as he has unique access to benefits that can save your money. At most cases there are also hidden savings built into trips that you will not find them in an online booking engine. Sometimes a package that you book yourself won't include those, making the experience appear cheap.
2. You Deal with Humans :-)
Travel agents know the market and, if they listen to what you want, they will be able to match you with a better product than you can find on the Internet. An independent travel agent always want to make sure that you have a good trip, and nothing makes an agent happier than hearing from clients when they return from their fabulous holiday and knowing that they helped them. Because of this, travel agents are with you every step of your trip, before, during and after, triple checking that your reservations are correct before you depart, on-hand to make sure that everything goes smoothly throughout.
Tell your agent about yourself and what type of experience you are looking for. Your independent travel agent will put together an entire custom vacation for you.
3. You Get Matched Right
If you call a tour operator directly they won’t tell you that their competitor is a better fit for you and your travel needs. An independent travel agent has access to a variety of tools which includes but not limited to various tour operators, cruise lines, airlines and more that the average consumer is not able to use or doesn't know about.
They can sometimes get you a better seat on an airplane, added amenities at hotels, room upgrades, event tickets, and plan activities for you.
Since travel agencies sell almost every travel product, they can help you to get matched right product to help you deliver your dream vacations on your budget.
4 They Are Educated and Have Personal Experience
Up until an independent travel agent can sell travel services they had gone through tourism training and education from their host agency. Using their education and personal experience they will guide your vacation decisions in a way that provides you with the best vacation possible for you .
Many travel agencies and the consultants they employ develop personal relationships with individuals at the companies they sell. They maintain these relationships to get you things you can’t get on your own. Their relationship with suppliers often provide special offers to their agency partners that aren’t offered to the public. There are a lot of value-adds that consumers don't even know about that can be added by a travel agent.
5. Travel Assistance and Recommendations
You planned to take a cruise but you're not sure which cruise line is best for you with your family that will meet your budget. An independent travel agent can help. Many travel agents specialize in a particular type of travel, such as cruises, and are able to make recommendations and help you plan a trip that meets your needs and budget. Their inside knowledge helps you avoid wasting time and money on the things you're not interested in, and lets you focus instead on taking the trip. OR,
Something can happen on your way to embark on a cruise that you've booked such as your flight tis delayed. If you booked your travel through an independent travel agent, you can call him to get assistance with rebooking your travel arrangements. When you book yourself on in the internet you might not be able to get that level of personalized attention, or you could have trouble finding someone who can help you out.
Want to be treated special? Maybe go to the head of the line? Would you like to book a room at that brand new hotel, with the beach view or the room just right before the beach or have dinner reservations at a special restaurant? Travel agents know new destinations and new places in them. Their network is beyond what customers think.
Through preferred partnerships, agents are able to get freebies for their clients that range from a free drink, room upgrade, or an exclusive admission to a restaurant or show.
Ever wonder why the couple in the cabin next to yours got champagne and you didn't? They probably used an independent travel agent.
Why don't use an independent travel agent? Keep in mind that they do this search and arrange your vacation for living.