There’s a lot to be said for purchasing products and services online. It’s quick. It’s efficient. You can buy and reserve just about anything you want in your jammies from your couch on a cold winter’s day. But what are you giving up when you book your travel plans online?
One travel professional noted in a recent Travel Market Report article, that while consumers may want to act like a professional, it’s easy for even sophisticated travelers to lose money, vacations and lots of time when they use Online Travel Agencies. He went on to suggest, “Maybe there should be a warning during the ads like they have on cigarette boxes or during the pharmaceutical commercials so consumers understand the potential consequences.”
So what are the consequences?
We consulted with Global Connections’ travel consultants and found consensus for three main challenges to buying travel on your own online:
- Travelers are giving up personal assistance.
- Travelers are using their valuable time to wade through offers trying to find the best deals.
- Travelers have a hard time finding a real person to help them should an emergency arise.
From airfare to car rentals, hotels to condominiums and activities to attractions, planning a vacation can be stressful. There are so many choices, at so many rates, from so many providers. When you use a travel agent, you’ve got a partner who knows the ins and outs of vacationing who can help you choose the best options for your travel budget.
What’s more, time is money. You can save your valuable time by using a travel agent. The Travel Market Report points out that a recent Google survey of U.K. consumers found that it takes 32 visits to 10 different websites to book an airline ticket. Trained travel professionals are able to navigate the complexities of layovers and low fares for you. They can uncover hidden fees from baggage and pre-flight check-in. They weigh the pros and cons and can plan your best vacation yet—all you had to do was make a couple phone calls and review some email itineraries.
Now, heaven forbid, what if the airline you’re flying has a strike, there’s a mechanical failure on your plane or when you finally arrive to your destination, the hotel has no record of your reservation? Who are you going to call for help?
If you book your reservation with a travel agent, you can bypass the automated systems and talk to a real person who can help. Someone who is on your side to rebook a flight or get you in your room.
It’s the rise of do-it-yourself traveling planning using online travel agencies that has led to a resurgence in the use of travel agents. Not only can a travel agent plan your complicated tours and destinations weddings or honeymoons, they are there when you need them most, making right wrongs that might disrupt your much longed for, and looked forward to, vacation.
Online reservations do have their place, Global Connections offers the popular service on its websites. Just be mindful of what you’re signing up for when you choose to go it on your own.
Do you use a travel agent? Tell us why you do or don’t in the comments below.
You can read the complete article on Travel Market Report.