I may work for a Travel Management Company, but I am in no shape or form a travel agent, nor have I had any formal travel-type training.
As a blogger, I am from a community of do-it-yourself travel, where blogs boast about secret hacks, cost-saving websites and one click apps.
Today, I spent the first half of my lunch hour… sulking.
I had been looking at flights a few days ago which I needed to book but couldn’t at the time and on returning to the website today… lo and behold the price had increased. I was not impressed.
As luck would have it, I was sat amidst a group of experienced travel consultants. As I repeated my dilemma I was soon flooded by alternative routes to look at, each of them reeling itineraries off like it was second nature. I was quite in awe.
Considering I spend every spare minute I have looking at travel, for any new destination it usually takes a good few hours of research to come up with the solutions these ladies were suggesting.
Today, was the day I fully appreciated the service an agent can provide. Heres why…
Transport required for four people to get from the UK to Rotterdam.
Direct flight from Manchester to Rotterdam
Fly to Amsterdam from any North-west airport, train to Rotterdam
Fly to Brussels from any North-west airport, train to Rotterdam
Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam
Ferry from Harwich to Rotterdam
Eurotunnel drive straight to Rotterdam
Eurostar to Brussels, Train to Rotterdam
Now I should point out that although all the above options were discussed, they all advised me to just stick to my first option and book the direct flight from Manchester to Rotterdam.
HOWEVER – the fact that within minutes, these super agents were able to come up with all of the above was pretty damn impressive. I thought it would be nice to point out that sometimes, its ok to get help…
Travel Agent vs. DIY Travel
If you’re just booking flights, then doing it online is probably the best way to go. However, if the flight you’re booking is a multi-stop trip, or one that comes up with a number of layovers, this would be a good time to call in the experts. With extensive knowledge of route deals, an agent can usually advise the best path, taking your personal preferences on timing and cost into account.
Peace of mind
Another benefit to booking through an agent is if there was ever an emergency, more often than not, you have the company to rely on. Having that extra manpower behind your booking is often reassuring, especially as customer service is such an important part of the business and most have 24 hour contact centres ready to help.
Most companies will have preferred airlines, hotels, etc. that they partner with. If they work with the kind of brands you normally go for anyway, then you may just have bagged yourself a bonus. Agents who book preferred partners can offer special deals, occasionally room upgrades and can also pass on any special requests you may have to the right people (rather than typing it in a comments box and hoping it’ll get noticed).
If you’re booking a trip and don’t have time for any planning, then a good travel agent is most definitely worth their weight in gold. They will not only sort out transport and accommodation, but will help you piece together itineraries with recommendations on places to eat, excursions, etc.
So if you’re lacking in time and want to take the hassle out of holiday planning, then a travel agent is most definitely your best option.
But if you’re after the best deal and you’re willing to put in the effort, then there are hundreds of websites, apps and guides out there nowadays ready to bring your dream trip to life.
Needless to say, those of you planning on going down the DIY route… the most useful tool available online, is of course travel blogs!! (like this one perhaps?) Full of tips, tricks and pre-planned tried and tested schedules ready to spark that wanderlust and get you started on your journey.
Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have some flights to book!!