by D.J. Wilson – Holidays are precious and short, so it’s important to ensure time and money is well spent. An acquaintance of mine has an unusual tradition. While blindfolded, he throws a dart at a map of the United States and where it lands is his next travel destination. I applaud adventurous lifestyles, but my desire for organization overshadows my impulsive side. It’s tempting to plan your own vacation, but there are risks involved from choosing a poor location to misinformation and internet scams. Providing a personal and customized touch, a travel agent is an important asset to planning a great vacation. Some charge a small fee, though many earn commission based on the difference in price from what the customer pays to the discounted price offered by the supplier. Learn fees upfront and select a consultant who offers the following benefits:
- AIMS TO PLEASE – Most travel agents develop a personal relationship with their clients throughout the years. Whether you seek a private get-away with no kids or you’re planning a large scale family affair with young ones in tow, a travel agent provides one stop shopping and knows the best places to go to meet your travel needs. Not only skilled at matching you to your desired destination, they will arrange your travel plans from hotels to tours to car rentals. A well planned vacation decreases the need for worry and increases your odds of having a great time.
- OFFERS TRUST – The world’s largest association of travel professionals, the American Society of Travel Agents known as ASTA, is a well educated group that operates under governance and adheres to a strict code of ethics. Whether you rely on a brick-and-mortar or online travel agency, choose one with principled guidelines which offers a refund or equivalent holiday in case of failure. Do your homework and select an agency you can trust.
- SHARES KNOWLEDGE – Your agent will provide you with timetables and safety and travel packets. If planning a trip abroad, they will explain foreign exchange rate information, packing tips, and will assist with getting your passport and documents in order. Familiar with social, political and economic climates of your destination, they keep you informed of current events which may influence travel. Your wise agent will share the importance of travel insurance and discuss trip cancellation policies should an emergency arise and travel is affected.
- OFFERS MONEY SAVING DEALS – As professional experts in finding hot deals, your travel agent will research and work diligently to get you the best upgrades and amenities possible within your budget. Keeping your vacation desires in mind, and familiar with package deals such as “all inclusive” resort experiences, they will find you the best deals possible. They may also have access to deals not available to the general public.
- SAVES YOU TIME – Anyone who has tried to make their own flight arrangements knows it can be time consuming and tricky. International flights, even domestic ones, can involve long layovers which cut into chunks of vacation time. If your goal is to spend more time on the beach than at a noisy airport, a travel agent will find the best flights possible with the least amounts of layovers, thereby saving you valuable vacation time.
- ACTS AS TROUBLESHOOTER – If special arrangements are required, for example should a wheelchair be necessary, your travel agent will handle this request. If a problem arises, like missing luggage, your travel agent will take on the task of locating your missing luggage and sending it directly to the hotel. A caring agent will take on troubleshooting tasks to ensure your vacation goes as smoothly as possible.
While vacation destinations can be determined by blindfold and dart or selected on our own via the internet, why take the risk? A travel agent is inarguably the most reliable source to achieve the optimal vacation. The goal of a travel agent is to give you the vacation of your dreams. Planning especially meaningful events, such as weddings and honeymoons, are best left for the experts. A travel agent should do more than just hand you a brochure and leave you to fend for yourself. Offering expertise in all areas of travel, they eliminate stress and provide relaxing peace of mind while performing valuable services guaranteed to make your vacation dreams a reality.