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What Does a Travel Agent Do?

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"Allow me to help you book your next trip for you!"[/caption] Since the introduction of websites such as Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline, it’s easy to book a flight, hotel, rental car and more with just a few clicks of a mouse. These sites claim to have the lowest prices on everything you need to travel, and all the booking can be finished in a matter of seconds. But how do you know that you’re really getting what you’re signing up for? Even with all of these technological advancements, some people continue to hire travel agents. While this may seem old-fashioned, there are some serious perks to working with an experienced agent. Read on to find out what it’s like to work with a travel agent and why you might want to consider hiring one for your next journey:

What Does a Travel Agent Do?

At the most basic level, travel agents are salespeople. They need to be familiar with all the services their agency offers and be able to cater to their clients’ specific needs. Everything from travel dates to accommodation quality to cancellation policies and available transportation will be considered by the agent. They have many “insider” tips for different destinations and will be confirming each and every reservation made. Travel agents book travel plans for everyone from honeymooning couples to large businesses. Some travel agents specialize in group ventures, such as tour packages or cruise vacations for a large crowd. Some specialize in certain geographical areas or one specific destination. Travel agents have unique relationships with vendors in order to help you get the best deals possible.

What Is The Typical Training of a Travel Agent?

Travel agencies usually require agents to have a business or liberal arts degree from a four-year college or university. Many agencies also require their agents to be fluent in the language of the location they intend to specialize in. Most travel agents will also have extensive experience in customer service.

What Are The Benefits of Using a Travel Agent?

If you’re busy with work, kids, or school, you probably have little time left over to sit at the computer and search for travel deals. This is where hiring a travel agent can be invaluable. If you’ve never booked your own trip and have no idea where to start, a travel agent can be a lifesaver. Thanks to the emergence of TripAdvisor and VirtualTourist, one of the first things you do when you book your own trip is read reviews on different hotels, airlines and attractions. Travel agents who specialize in certain destinations are a wealth of knowledge on all of these components, and having an agent who knows the ins and outs of a certain place is much more reliable than sifting through hundreds of conflicting reviews. If you’re traveling abroad for the first time, a travel agent is a trustworthy source for all the small details you’ll need to consider, including currency conversion, cell phone use, passports, translation and medicine. If you’re looking to plan a complicated trip that involves multiple means of transportation and several destinations, a travel agent is definitely the right way to go. Another benefit of using a travel agent is that you have a go-to person if things go wrong. If you miss a flight, get stranded or have trouble with transportation, your travel agent will be on call to help you out. Having a travel agent in your corner can especially help you out if you’re stuck dealing with terrible customer service from a car rental company or hotel concierge.

Will I Save Money using a Travel Agent?

Generally speaking, you will probably end up spending a little more if you hire a travel agent. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Remember, the cheapest deal is not always the deal with the best value. Your travel agent can help you find ways to save money in different areas without forcing you to stay in a terrible hotel or take red-eye flights. Planning a trip can be confusing, complicated and extremely time-consuming. Why not let an experienced professional take the reins and do the legwork for you? In the long run, you’re sure to be happy that you were able to get exactly what you were looking for. What do you think? In the age of one click bookings and infinite information do you find it useful to hire a travel agent to plan and schedule your trips? Leave your thoughts in the comments! Editor’s note: this blog post was originally published on 8/4/2011

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