In today’s world of technology, you can book a flight with just a click of your mouse. You can research your holiday on the commute to work, and arrange an international tour with one hand while you’re cooking dinner with the other.
Travel agents have had to roll with the times, and they have adapted to the evolution with aplomb. Rather than just a booking and ticketing resource, your agent is now a consultant; an advocate with each finger in a pie that will prove a delicious enhancement to your holiday or business trip. As the New Year beckons with a world of new travel opportunities, here are a few pointers to consider when you’re wondering why you should book with a travel consultant.
1. Let someone else juggle the pieces
Connecting flights, travel time and tour pick up points are just a few of those niggly pieces that have to be confirmed and fitted together to ensure smooth sailing on your adventure. Entrusting these details to an agent means you don’t have to sacrifice your free time to fit all the pieces of your itinerary together.
2. Be inspired
You never know whose travel tales are going to inspire you to discover a personal travel highlight. Travel agents are in the business for a reason, and their love of exploring coupled with years of research mean that they are stockpiles of inspiration. Whether it’s a restaurant that serves the world’s best gnocchi or an un-missable day tour that doesn’t sound that special on paper, they’re sure to have recommendations that you may otherwise have missed.
3. Let them translate the offers
A quick Google search on ‘European river cruises’ will throw up a hundred results from vying companies and third party booking agencies. Apart from the time consuming research it takes to separate the good from the bad, there is also much painstaking comparison involved when choosing which provider is best for you, especially in a world that loves to use acronyms. A good agent will be able to recommend a cruise line suited to you off the top of their heads, and reduce any further research into a tidy list of suitable options.
4. Get access to exclusive deals
Flights are not always cheaper on line; agents often have a direct line to great value deals, and that’s just the start. Are you chasing tickets to a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden? Maybe you’re after a private, before-hours tour of the Imperial Citadel of Hue. These are the types of perks that a well connected travel agent can arrange for you. Look out especially for Virtuoso agents - they were each personally invited to be a member of the world’s leading luxury travel network.
5. Take the hassle out of group travel
If you’ve ever tried to arrange group travel, you’ll know that it can be a logistical nightmare. Coordinating arrival times, ensuring that rental vehicles have the right capacity, and catering for different departure dates are just a few issues that travel consultants can take off your hands. He or she will be the first point of contact for all troublemakers, and tie all the loose ends into a nice, tidy itinerary.
6. Get insider tips
Consultants have chosen their profession due to a love of travel, and Travel Associates consultants in particular boast many years of professional travel. Internet research cannot beat the testimony of a verified source, and all your questions can be answered on the spot. Want to know if the sand squeaks on Phi Phi, or if a fried locust will get stuck in your teeth? Here is your chance to know before you go.
7. Enjoy peace of mind on the road
The buck doesn’t stop once you’ve put down your money; booking with an agent means someone has got your back the whole time you’re travelling. If you arrive at your hotel only to find they have misplaced your booking, you’ll have someone dedicated to fixing the problem. Your travel agent will also know exactly who to contact in case of an emergency and can help you navigate the intricacies of travel insurance.
8. Save your valuable time
You may be able to find a less expensive deal on line, but when booking a multi-faceted holiday, this can be at the cost of your free time. Let the lead up to your departure be as relaxing as the rest of your trip by letting someone else do the work for you.
9. Save your preferences for future travel
Once an agent has learned your travel preferences - from personal interests to whether you prefer an aisle or a window while flying - they will retain them for the long haul. Booking your next customised trip will be as easy as putting in a quick call.
10. The care factor
Not only do Travel Associates consultants want your repeat business, they also sincerely want you to have an amazing holiday. Consultants get into the business because they love what they do, and often the most fulfilling part of their day is the glowing reviews they get upon a guest’s return. Rather than ensuring you get from point A to point B, a good consultant wants you to love every minute in between, and they will get in touch after the event to ensure their mission was accomplished.
*Photos: Getty Images