LYTE BYTE: Its hard being a travel agent – “Hello I’m Trish the travel agent”
It’s hard to say whether a travel agent or ‘DIY online’ bookings will be cheaper than the other. So choosing between a high street agent or an online agent may just come down to your appetite for research and need for control.
Overall, booking through a travel agent can potentially save hours of research. We know there are so many travel options it was hard to know where to begin. Each travel agent caters to specific requests, they respond quickly, and are attentive, friendly and personable.
On the other hand, researching and booking your own holiday gives you the flexibility to browse lots of options at your leisure. You’re in control instead of needing to trust someone else, and you don’t have to deal with two sets of terms and conditions (the travel agent’s plus the airline or hostel’s policy).
Booking websites often have customer reviews on hotels and packages instead of having to rely on an agent’s opinion. However, if you use an agent you can always check customer reviews online for the options your agent has put forward.
What the online travel sites say
Trivago say that consumers get a better deal with them because they use a price comparison feature. “Simply relying on one travel agent can sometimes limit options … We also aggregate all of the user ratings and reviews from a number of online travel agents to give a larger and more accurate overview of a hotel’s reputation, again rather than simply relying on one website to provide that information.”
Another booking(dot)com said they offer flexibility for customers including free cancellation on most properties up to 24 hours before arrival, no booking fees, and a ‘pay after you stay’ policy for most accommodation. “We also offer a best price guarantee, meaning we will match any lower price that may be found on another channel and we have a 24/7 customer service function via the phone or email that is available across the globe in 42 different languages.” (However, this is not the experience a staff member of The Byte recently. He used this platform to book accommodation for an overseas trip and he was not able to cancel (with no fee) or offered a ‘pay as you stay’ policy at any time. So what they say may not be what you get.)
What the travel agents say
Booking with a travel agent has many benefits, including:
- Using a travel specialist. A travel agent is trained to book – from start to end – your entire holiday. They also tailor the itinerary to suit specific requests and find packages and products that suit your unique wants and needs.
- Customer advocacy. If you experience a problem while travelling, your agent will act on your behalf, and is there to rectify any travel-related issues you encounter.
- Expert guidance. Agents are trained destination and product experts and know how to sort through the myriad of travel information available. Their knowledge and network means they also have access to the best deals.
- Time saving. An agent has a world of travel information at their ﬁngertips, saving you countless hours of online searching and frustration.
- Convenience. Travel agents are a ‘one-stop shop’ who can handle every aspect of your travel – from booking airline tickets, ground transfers, tours and activities to arranging travel insurance.
- A personal touch. A travel agent will ensure the accuracy of your booking details, advise with visa applications, assist with travel documentation, and provide valuable travel hints and tips.
Whichever one is chosen its a good time to reflect – “In 2014 the Australian travel industry became deregulated as the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) was abolished, backed by industry and government. The TFC had ensured consumers were compensated when travel agents went broke, but under new rules travel agents no longer have to be licensed. It means you could be left stranded and out of pocket if a travel agent goes bust. There’s now only the voluntary Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS), run by the peak body Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), which vets travel agents to make sure they meet certain standards such as being reliable and properly trained. “
With Tribal Travel and now Wicked Travel now biting the dust – is no regulation of travel agents such a good idea? These aren’t the only ones to ‘die’ they are just the only ones in our sector! Have your say. Regulation and accreditation and not?
Sourced by Chris Harrison