Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Travel Agent Lives On

With the rise of online price sites, the profession of travel agent was knocking on death’s door. But a recent catastrophe shows the usefulness of a travel agent can go way beyond price cutting.

Travel agents take hours of specialized training. Many hold certifications from large private companies and can therefore speak on the ins and outs of those companies. They may be a certified Alaska Cruise or Westin Resort specialist. They can offer insight on travel services the discount sites can’t match.

Travelers are always looking to save in a recession, but on average spend nine hours on 21 different websites just to book a trip. They have an idea of what they want, but the price cutter sites don’t offer personalized advice.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) says the number of agents and agencies has gone down in the last six years. In order to cater to a generation that has never dealt with a travel agent for their vacation needs, agencies have combined forces, cut commission fees and offer better services to consumers than ever before.

Book your small travels to destinations you are familiar with on the discount sites, but if you’re planning a big getaway to an exotic location, let’s say a week-long surf trip to Indonesia, do yourself a favor and use a travel agent.