Are you willing to work without pay for 23 hours? Many people are doing just that when they plan vacations. Planning a vacation can be time consuming and exhausting. According to Expedias quarterly report, in 2015, American travelers spent on average, 23 hours spread over 45 days booking a vacation. Travelers visit around 140 different websites before booking their trip. Many people choose to use travel agents instead.
Carrie Stevenson does not use travel agents. Stevenson travels at least one week a month. Stevenson and her family have gone on many types of vacations, from cruises, to group travel, and staying at resorts.
“I plan all of our vacations myself. We don’t use travel agents, I travel enough that I know how to do everything and can get great deals because I’m a member for a lot of the hotels. Anything they could do I could do and probably get more of what I want for myself. I like having control over my own vacations especially if I’m spending a lot of money.” Stevenson said
For many people using a travel agent seems old fashioned. Online booking websites such as Expedia and booking.com have made it easier and more time efficient to book directly and plan their own trips.
For someone who travels often and knows exactly what they want from their vacation a travel agent isn’t necessary. The widespread access to the internet has caused people to book on their own more often than not.
According to Statista, as of May 2021, over 37 thousand adults were employed as travel agents in the United States, a decrease of nearly 18 thousand from the previous year.
Richter Travel is a small Travel Agency located in Elma, NY. The agency is owned by Sam Richter. Richter worked as a Travel Agent for years before opening her own business. Richter launched her agency just weeks before COVID-19.
“With us, they have the personal touch, they have somebody that they know to go to, they don’t have to call and wait on holdI have contacts at resorts, I have contacts at hotels, I have people who will back me up if anything goes wrong. That’s something that you’re not going to get on your own.” Richter said.
Travel agents have exclusive access to products and pricing. They use all available information to create a trip that is personalized for their customers.
Kathy Milo is a Travel Agent with Discover Travel in Buffalo. Milo has worked in the industry since before the pandemic.
“Navigating the world of travel options can be daunting and time consuming. At some point everyone becomes overwhelmed. We are able to offer our expertise, insider knowledge and options that will save both time and money for our clients to create a seamless vacation experience,” Milo said.
Many people believe that using a travel agency is an expensive option, but this is not necessarily true. Agents are paid by the companies they book through in commission. Agents that do charge fees charge so for different reasons.
- Security: so people do not take information they provide and book on their own.
- Group Travel: Coordinating group travel such as weddings, honeymoons, bachelor and bachelorettes require a lot more time and attention that other types of travel.
- Consultation fees: If guests already have a trip booked, or just want a second opinion but will not be booking with the agency an agent may charge for their time.
- Anything that may take more time than normal, some agencies charge fees for every client.
If you are an experienced traveler a travel agent may not be right for you. There are many times when a using a travel agent isn’t the right fit. Experienced travelers, ‘go with the flow,’ type trips, and rentals where there isn’t a planned itinerary don’t require a travel agency.
Airbnb’s are one of the more popular options due to their affordability, location, and freedom that many hotels don’t provide. Booking rentals such as this is something more people have begun exploring. These types of rentals are very easy to book on your own and can be done in minutes from the app.
“When it is the best answer for a clients travel needs to get a rental we tell them. In recent years more vendors are adding rental properties to their inventory which allows us to book those types of vacations for clients,” Milo said.
According to Statista, since the COVID-19 pandemic more people have used travel agencies. Governments worldwide are handling COVID-19 differently and rules and regulations change daily. Booking a trip, especially one going to a different country can be very time consuming. Working with a travel agency can eliminate the need for travelers to find this information on their own. An agency ensures the correct and most updated information for the time of the booking.
At the start of the pandemic, Discover Travel had clients on a cruise in Australia.
“While the world was in panic, they were enjoying a few days at sea as a respite to what they would be facing. We, however, were working 24/7 behind the scenes to bring them home.We were able to provide real help to real people who were very much in need of a helping hand to bring them home. The pandemic strengthened our relationships with clients and brought in more referrals as business is building up again,” Milo said
Agencies can plan any type of vacation. They can help with cruises, resorts, group trips, flights, excursions, and rental homes similar to Airbnb. Many people choose to do this on their own instead.
A travel agent’s job is to simplify the booking process. For people who have not traveled often, or are going to a new place, or are unsure of regulations, a travel agent can be very helpful.Travel agents are for people who don’t want to spend hours researching their trips, are not experienced travelers, or are traveling in such a large group that the economics and logistics of booking it yourself do your head in. For many people booking direct is easier because everything can be found online, many bookings can be made instantly off of a phone or computer.