In the past, individuals seeking to plan a vacation would often visit a nearby travel agency. They would explore various options, leaf through catalogues, and then convey their preferences to the travel agent, who would handle all the necessary arrangements for accommodations and transportation.
In today’s digital age, well-informed travellers tend to begin their journey planning by conducting online research on various destinations. Subsequently, they often rely on online travel aggregators to book their accommodations. A recent survey revealed that a majority of travellers, approximately 41%, now favour using online travel agencies or aggregators for securing hotel reservations. Additionally, 29% opt for direct bookings, while a mere 29% still choose the traditional route of engaging a travel agent.
Despite the availability of online travel booking platforms, engaging the services of a travel agent still presents distinctive advantages. These professionals possess the ability to secure exclusive flight fares, provide specialised knowledge, and assist in the meticulous planning and coordination of your journey. Remarkably, even in this digital age, numerous individuals actively seek out their expertise for a more customised and tailored travel experience.
When it comes to planning a trip, you may wonder whether it’s better to use a travel agent or book the trip yourself. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of both options to help you make an informed decision.
Advantages of utilising a travel agent
Travel agents, who are also known as “travel advisors,” “travel experts,” or “travel consultants,” have evolved in their roles. In the past, they used to be the primary source for all travel bookings, but now they stand out by providing a tailored, interactive, and individualised service. A competent travel agent can:
- Establish a connection between you and reliable tour operators who have been previously vetted and collaborated with.
- Discover the ideal flight deals, car rentals, and cruise options that seamlessly align with your travel plans.
- Help you save money with exclusive upgrades, discounts, and perks that aren’t available to the general public
- Providing customised assistance and ensuring a sense of tranquillity.
- If you’re looking to arrange a group trip or family outing that fulfils the needs and preferences of all travellers, allowing you to save valuable time and energy, I can assist you with organising the logistics.
- Experience seamless handling of trip cancellations and modifications, while discovering fares that offer flexibility and align with your financial plans.
Drawbacks of utilising a travel agent
There are numerous advantages to utilising the services of a travel agent, but the growing trend of self-booking cannot be ignored. Despite the benefits, there are limitations to what a travel agent can offer. Below are a few drawbacks that you may encounter when dealing with travel agencies.
- Booking travel arrangements through traditional travel agents can be inconvenient due to their limited office hours. However, opting to book online provides the flexibility to make reservations at any time. Additionally, certain travel booking platforms provide round-the-clock customer support for added convenience.
- Travel agents have a vested interest in steering you towards booking flights or hotels that they recommend because they receive commissions from hotel operators and airlines.
- A significant drawback of small consumer-facing travel agencies is their limited inventory. In contrast, online platforms provide a vast selection of travel products and tour operator software for customers to choose from.
- Travel agencies frequently impose hefty booking fees, contributing to higher overall costs for travellers.
- A limitation in payment choices is observed in certain travel agencies, specifically those in the business travel management sector, where clients are required to commit to a one-year contract that includes intricate terms and conditions. This can pose challenges for customers seeking more flexible payment alternatives.
Optimal Fusion: Uniting the Benefits of Travel Management Platforms
Undoubtedly, there are numerous advantages to utilising the expertise of a travel agent, yet there are also compelling reasons to consider self-booking on popular consumer travel websites such as Booking.com, Expedia, or Airbnb. Therefore, it becomes a matter of determining which option is more suitable for you.
The choice you make regarding your travel arrangements depends on your specific travel requirements and objectives. Certain individuals may prioritise having greater control over their travel plans, while others may prefer to entrust the responsibility to a reliable partner. However, it is worth noting that there exists a solution that allows you to enjoy the advantages of both approaches simultaneously.
Travel management platforms are specifically created for seasoned travellers who have moved beyond the basic tools provided by consumer travel websites but still desire a contemporary and user-friendly solution. Numerous platforms cater specifically to business travellers and travel managers within organisations.
As a travel manager, you are likely well-acquainted with the various difficulties associated with arranging business trips. These challenges encompass tasks such as handling expense reports, coordinating VAT refunds, and striving to meet your company’s sustainability objectives, all while adhering to a predetermined budget.
Your knowledgeable travellers may appreciate the convenience offered by consumer booking platforms, but relying solely on these sites can lead to considerable confusion. It becomes necessary to handle each person’s booking separately, without any guarantee that everyone adheres to the company’s booking policies.
Travel agencies, on the contrary, possess a comprehensive understanding of your requirements and provide personalised assistance. However, they frequently rely on outdated technology, have restricted choices for fares, and do not extend round-the-clock support.
By utilising a travel management platform, you can access the convenience and range of fare options typically available on a consumer website, while also benefiting from personalised assistance and cost-saving offers akin to those provided by a travel agency. All these services are consolidated into a single platform, providing you with a comprehensive travel solution.