Forbes: Why You Need a Travel Agent?

Just a couple of years ago, headlines were about the demise of the travel agent, about to go the way of the Dodo and the dinosaur. Guess what? Travel agents are not only still here, they are experiencing a rebound – despite (or because of?) the myriad travel tools available online.

Ash Cloud Forces Flight Cancellations

“Should’ve used a Travel Agent”

So why should you use a travel agent?

There are many, many good reasons, which I will explain. But the bottom line is that they know more than you do, they are better connected than you, they have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise, they can often beat any other prices available (even online, yes), and after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself or buying insurance. Having a top travel agent can also make you an instant VIP – free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, cutting lines, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibits, private guides, and cheaper – often much cheaper – premium airfares. Here’s the best part: even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family, and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved money, often a lot of money, thousands of dollars, and in every case, more than paid for themselves.

To be clear, I am talking about true experts, the really good travel agents who add value, not the ones running full page ads of deals in the Sunday papers.  The best travel agents are essentially consultants, and many prefer “travel advisor,” because it is their advice, expertise, and connections that are of great value, not the ability to print airline tickets for you. A few have become hyper-specialized, and in some cases, like booking a cruise, golf vacation, space travel, or a very specialized theme trip like art, music or polar exploration, you will want to seek out a niche specialist. But for most travelers, it is better to find an excellent generalist travel advisor and stick with them, because a big part of the equation is that they get to know you and your wants, likes and dislikes, and make suggestions accordingly. You would not use a different financial advisor every time you opened a new bank or brokerage account, so why keep switching travel agents?  Larry Olmsted Contributor

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