The rapid development of technology, and with it, spread of information, has much altered the world of travel. Travel booking is no exception. Where before, it was common to create travel plans through a booking agent or agency, now much trip planning is DIY.
The internet has become the go-to expert on all things travel, with countless articles and guides on almost every corner of the globe. As such, travel agents have become somewhat defunct - although not entirely. Despite the wealth of information available to us all, travel agents still add unique value to the planning of a trip.
This article will weigh up the benefits and negatives of booking with a travel agent, as opposed to booking independently, so that when it comes to holiday-time you know which way you want to go.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of booking with a travel agent is the ease - the agent will manage all details and bookings of the trip, meaning you do not have to ring up hotels or trawl through flight websites. This also comes into play if your plans change for any reason, which undoubtedly involves changing bookings.
Travel agents are likely to be well-informed about destinations, and can thus often recommend places you may not find by individual research online. Likewise, if going on a full tour of a country, they will be able ensure you have a well-rounded trip and experience all the best locations. Aside from location-knowledge, agents also know all the little niggly details that often get in the way of the desired holiday - such as where to visit when.
Agencies often have special partnerships and promotions with various companies, and thus can get you deals that you would not otherwise be subject for.
If and when problems arise - such as cancelled flights - travel agents can make life a lot easier and use their relationships to get you the help that you need.
Money is clearly the biggest factor in play with travel agents and this will vary from person to person. Obviously if you are planning a budget trip, you may not have anything extra to fork out for an agent. On the other side, if money is not an issue for you, the ease and efficiency that an agent provides may be affordable and a welcome time-saver.
Susceptible to fraud etc. if you choose an agent that does not have your best interests at heart or simply does not know what they’re doing.
Whatever else, booking independently allows for a lot of freedom with your travel - both in cultivating the itinerary yourself, and the fact that unlike with an agent, it’s unlikely that every blank will be filled!
Following on from the above point, this means that you will be able to go with the flow much more. Sometimes you completely fall in love with a place, and will want to stay longer there. And vice versa. Likewise, if you meet other travellers, you are able to fall in with what they’re doing in a way that is not possible on a completely planned itinerary.
While agents have a wealth of knowledge, they are unlikely to know every country and its secrets. These are found, predominantly, by individuals stumbling across them or hearing about places by word of mouth. Not something that can be booked in advance!
Having to do more research about the place you are visiting, will probably imbue you with more knowledge about the place and insights into which places and landmarks you want to visit there.
There is of course, the fact that you must do all the planning and organising and booking. For those that loath this process, a travel agent who will do it all for you is an obvious bonus. It is certainly more stressful being wholly responsible for all of your plans.
Internet sites can be unreliable - both for information and in terms of booking bad hotels etc.
If you need to cancel or change flights, this can be very time consuming and expensive.