Why use a travel agent?

Most people today don’t consult a travel agent when planning a trip.

That’s a shame.

I wonder if they also stand on their rooftops, tossing cash into the breeze. It’s kinda the same thing.

You see, many travel agents (including Wanderlust Travel) don’t charge their clients anything at all to research, plan and book travel. Agents are compensated by commissions paid from the supplier from whom the client purchases. And better yet, we can find you the absolute best rates available for the product you want, very often with better amenities than are available to the individual guest booking directly with the supplier.

When hotels, resorts, cruise lines and tour operators sell their products directly to the customer, they have no reason to offer any discounts that customer isn’t aware of. They want to maximize their sales, and as such, make every effort to sell each seat or room at the highest price possible. Travel agents, however, stay up to date with the latest deals and special offerings. We know that if we can save you $200 on a weeklong stay at a resort compared to the price that resort lists on their retail website, you’ll come back to us the next time you want to go somewhere else. And when it comes down to it, repeat clients are the bread and butter of a successful travel agent.

But aside from the savings you can reap by using a travel agent, think about something every bit as valuable — your time. According to a study conducted by Expedia, consumers visit an average of 38 websites trying to figure out their travel details. Several sources in the travel industry have concluded that this research eats up between 10-20 HOURS of your time for each trip.

How much is your time worth? Is researching a destination on your own worth half a week’s paycheck?

Even if travel agents didn’t give you the best deals available, wouldn’t it be worth something to give yourself 20 more hours of free time instead of trying to learn everything there is to know about that destination you’re considering? Doesn’t it make sense to make a phone call to your travel agent and save all that time? Travel agents receive training about the destinations and providers you’re considering. It doesn’t take nearly as much time for an agent to match you to the providers that offer exactly what you’re looking for, in the destination you want.

Sadly, there’s one thing about this arrangement that is changing the way some travel agencies operate. There are a lot of people who consult a travel agent, and obtain a detailed quote, spelling out every detail of the offering, who then turn around and book the trip themselves using those very details. The travel agent has done hours of work for the client and receives nothing in return. And the client doesn’t really save anything anyway. In fact, she is probably missing out on something like a free hour in the resort spa that the agent would have given her as a thank you gift.

This kind of travel shopper sees the quote from the travel agent, which includes everything the client will be paying for (including taxes, port fees or other government fees, or staff tips required by all-inclusive resorts and cruise lines), and thinks he can do better. What he doesn’t realize is that most of the pricing shown on internet travel sites DON’T include these extras, but will be charged. Once these extras are tacked on, the final cost is at least as high, and often higher, than that number on the travel agent’s quote.

But because of these people, many travel agents are starting to charge a fee up front, before they even start looking into a trip for a potential client. It’s hard to blame them. We are in business to earn a living, after all. We have mortgages and electric bills and car payments, just like anyone else.

At least for now, however, Wanderlust Travel will not be charging a consultation or planning fee, despite having experienced this very scenario. It’s disappointing, for sure, but most clients we work with realize that we do everything possible to get them the best deal available.

I invite you to call or email me to discuss your next vacation. You’ll love having the money and time you save by choosing Wanderlust Travel.


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