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Why Global eReservations - If I Can Buy On Line
We are often asked, "Why would I book with a travel agent when I can do it myself?" or "What is the difference between booking with you versus online?"
Both are great questions. My funny answer to this is, "I do not cut my own hair; I leave it up to my stylist." Yes, I could probably cut it myself, but it's not worth the risk. I want a professional who is trained to do it.
Top 10 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent
1. Saves time
Did you know that over 20% of travelers that book online put over hours into planning? With that statistic, I find myself wondering if they got the full vacation experience they were looking for? We all have busy lives; why not leave it up to the experts to plan your vacation and then you can enjoy your weekend or free time.
2. Expertise and knowledge
I understand that it's fun to look at all the vacation options at first, then reality may sink in that you have never been to that certain resort nor have you even heard of it before. Most travel agents have the opportunity to travel through the year learning about the destinations and resorts as well as attending trade shows and training. It's such a great feeling when I can tell a client a personal tip from experience about their vacation plan.
3. Real Person
Oftentimes when calling the mass travel websites, you'll get an automated answering system or get passed from person to person. We know what a great feeling it is to get a person on the phone and, better yet, they make you feel important and that you're just not another caller.
Also, if you should have any problems with your travels, then it's all the more important to speak directly to a person.
4. They think of the whole package
A "great" travel agent will start to think about how to make your trip more of an experience for you from the moment you called to discuss your vacation. For most of us, this is so important and it's what makes it not just a transaction. These key points of interaction are where you build that relationship and trust. It makes you proud to have a travel agent on your side. Remember: it's not just about the plane tickets you need.
5. Saves you money
Many travel agents do not charge a fee to do the research and even book your vacation. Our knowledge to help plan your vacation is free! What a bonus.
6. Convenience – A Pro for Online Booking or Booking with a Travel Agent?
Is it really as convenient as we think? So it is undeniable that it is far easier to go online and search for travel options and buy them more quickly than calling an agent, waiting until they are free to talk, discussing your needs and waiting for them to get answers as they search and so on. However, there is a downside to this convenience … the searching.
When booking flights the search may not be an issue but when booking packaged vacations and cruises or more complicated trips this is where the online booking loses its stronghold. Personally I love the searching, checking reviews and digging out my next vacation from all the information, however not everyone has the time for this. You are not only looking for the best price, but a place with a good reputation, the amenities you desire and the locations you want to visit during your trip. You might need answers to questions like "is it the best time to travel here?" "Are there any travel advisories I should be aware of." If you are not into spending the time doing this research then a Travel Agent may be the best choice here. They have experience and information that you may not be digging up from an online site.
7. Do You Get The Same Treatment? Pro for the Travel Agent Con for Booking Online
"You are more likely to get bumped flights or booked in a lower-end room when booking through an online travel site."
Personally I'm starting to believe this statement more and more. How can this be true? Well the fact is that when booking your flight online the online travel agency will not remove your seats off the availability list as quickly as a travel agent does. The travel agent does it immediately at the time of booking so if the flight is overbooked the last tickets issued are the first ones bumped off the flight. Since customer service with online travel sites is less than stellar the airline may feel it is easier to bump an online booking over an agent booking which will be quicker to respond on behalf of their client.
With regards to hotel room bookings a room booked online is put in a "less desirable class" than one booked by an agent. So if you book an Ocean view room online you will get an Ocean view room but probably in the oldest wing of the hotel and next to heavy machinery or in a loud part of the resort. This would be an interesting survey of trip-advisor reviews if you book online vs an agent is your room worse than the agent customer? A travel agent booking includes special notes and requests, so if you want a second floor room, in a quiet part of the hotel or resort you will be more likely to get it than if you book through an online site.
8. Customer Service – Pro for the Travel Agent Con for Booking Online
From my own personal experience and the many many complaints I've read online this is where the online booking sites fail miserably. If you book your trip online and there are no issues or changes then consider yourself lucky, but the moment something goes wrong, a clerical or accounting error is made, the price changes, the flight changes or you are not satisfied with something getting a customer service representative at the online booking site may prove difficult. Many of these sites put their resources in bookings rather than dealing with issues. Once the trip is booked you will have a hard time getting a customer service agent to help. A few examples you might encounter:
You Don't Like the Room – You get to the resort and hate the room you got, so you head to the front desk and they don't seem to want to help you. Why? Well you bought the cheapest hotel room, remember? Why would they want to help you? So by some miracle you get through to a customer service representative at the online booking site, they too have little luck with room selection, because they are selling the cheapest deals not the best vacations. On the other hand a travel agent whose direct number and email you have will be far easier to reach and much better equipped to handle the situation for you. In fact the front desk knowing the travel agency's representatives may encourage them to be more helpful in the first place.
You're Flight Schedule Changes – Online travel agencies are famous for this one. They don't inform you of any changes to your flight. According to their fine print – You are responsible for checking your flight times 24 hours before you leave. Again an online agency is putting its resources on new bookings, they don't always look back and forward any new relevant information for an old booking. A travel agent on the other hand will be more likely to send you the flight change notice and be there to handle any concerns you may want to discuss.
9. The Lowest Prices are Guaranteed Online? Or Are They?
Have you ever gone online and found the most amazing deal on a flight and then when you start going into the actual booking the price just goes higher and higher? Online travel sites are well known for the "bait and switch" tactic. They have all done clever marketing campaigns to get the word out that you will get the lowest prices for the same packages that agents sell and if you travel often then you may be discovering that this is just not the case. In fact every agent I have talked with about a price I found online has matched and further reduced the online price, so why doesn't the Agent have the upper hand here?
There are some unbelievable travel deals to be found on an online site but is what you see always what you get? You purchase the trip and then the online site says oh we are sorry the tour operator changed the flight, or cancelled it all together. It isn't our fault but the charter flight company changed the flight. Is it just me or are these "changes" happening more with online bookings than with agency bookings?
10. The Bottom Line – Travel Buyers Beware
In response to my recent online booking issues, I'm questioning if I ever want to book a flight or trip online again. Having a relationship with a good travel agent means experience, expertise, information, customer service and someone that has my back. I'm starting to wonder why consumer reports have not been compiled on issues of using Online Travel Sites for bookings and is it really true that they offer the lowest price for the same vacations you get with an Agent. Just say in'!
If you're thinking about a vacation, consider using a travel agent—one that is excited and honored to help you plan your experience.