Whether it’s finding the best prices on airfare, lodging or cruises or arranging complicated group travel, travel agents have the experience and connections to make it happen. Plus, they’re trained to solve problems, so you can count on them if your flight is canceled or you have to cancel your hotel reservation due to an illness or weather event.
Most travel agents are paid on commission, which means they’re salespeople first and foremost. That’s why it’s important to find one who is a good fit for your personality and travel style. For example, if you’re going to NYC and your agent doesn’t live there, they may not have the insider knowledge on how to navigate the subway or which local activities are truly worth your time and money.
Look for an agent who specializes in the type of trip you’re planning, especially if it’s a remote destination or requires special skills. For example, if you’re interested in a group vacation tour to Southeast Asia, work with an agency that has staffers who have traveled there and can offer recommendations on hotels, excursions and entertainment.
Also, when comparing costs between agents, factor in their fees. Agencies typically charge an airline ticket procurement fee, which covers their cost to purchase tickets on your behalf, as well as service fees for researching and booking travel arrangements. You should also ask for an itemized list of all charges to ensure there are no surprises down the road.