When sometimes people as me why should they use a travel agent in the digital age of book it and do it yourself online sites I have a favorite response. But before I give the example I want to be objective and say that using a travel agent is not for everyone and may not be necessary for some travel arrangements. If I just need the rental car locally (I mean in the US) when I arrive in the airport, I will probably book it myself at the counter. Easy and fast enough. However if I want a car in let’s say Uyuni, Bolivia and call a small company there and maybe the personnel does not speak English well and there are different restrictions, then maybe I should talk to someone who is an expert in travel in Bolivia.
Back to my example. My favorite response is this: preparing and organizing your trip is a bit like doing your taxes. If you are single, have one job, have no deductions and have a very uncomplicated return then you can probably do it yourself either with the help of a software or by hand. Of course you could still make mistakes and then have to deal with IRS alone should you get audited but there is a small chance of that. But let’s say, on the other extreme, you are a couple, with two jobs, three kids, rental property and one of you runs a business on the side. Can you file your own taxes? I am sure there are people who can say yes (bookkeepers and accountants to start with), those people love to do it themselves but it can get very complicated and time consuming very fast. However the stakes for making a mistake or an omission get higher, the nuances and different advantages are buried in a tax code and pretty soon you realize that it is probably better to hire an accountant to guide you through it, prepare the tax, explain different scenarios and finally be in your corner should IRS come knocking on your door. You spend the money upfront for the service but you save in a long run.
That is quite similar when you try to prepare a trip. If you are planning a complicated, multi-country trip involving several plane connections, ground transportation, looking for best opportunities not just to save immediate dollar but to get the best value for your dollar, stay in cool hotels, experience something different, have someone watching over you in case you miss that flight or things go wrong and come back happy, then using a destination expert is a great idea. And yes, you will have to pay a given service fee (just as you do when you use your accountant or any other consultant/service professional) but what you get is a crafted, thought out itinerary you probably haven’t even thought of.
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) which is the most recognized and largest global association of travel professionals has summarized this in four key points:
- agents are trusted professionals
- they are experts in creating unique and amazing experiences
- they are risk reducers, preventing bad things from happening and assisting when they do happen
- they look our for their clients before, during and after their trip as personal caregivers
So the next time you sit down to think of and prepare your next vacation let us help you with the process because preparing your dream trip should not be daunting and frustrating.