No human interaction on the web. You have no access to experience, contacts, or industry knowledge, helping you make the best choice for your situation. Your travel professional will help you make choices based on your individual needs. They will ask questions to personalize your travel choices.
Changes, Problems, Issues & Snafus
Change is a word the Internet has trouble with. When working with a professional who appreciates the position you are in, making changes is simple and fast. A good Travel Agent will attack your problem as if it were their own. Nothing is more frustrating than having to search for hours for somebody in a position to deal with your situation. If a problem surfaces on the web, what are your options? The buck stops with a single phone call to your agent. The Internet just isn’t in a position to make this statement
Speed / Time Management
Qualified Travel Agents are faster and more efficient booking travel than you are, plus they know what they are doing while you are guessing and hoping what you are doing will result in a positive transaction, wasting a lot of time in the process. Searching endless options, clicking through and comparing web-only fares can take up hours. You need to ask yourself what is your time worth.
Financially Strong Travel Partners
It’s amazing how people will give their credit card to absolute strangers on the internet. Not a week goes by that we don’t hear about someone booking online and finding out their tour operator goes bust, the online agency goes bankrupt, or their hotel goes out of business. As travel professionals, it’s our job to monitor the strength and financial health of our travel partners. We align ourselves with strong, viable travel organizations to eliminate the surprise factor on the internet. We’ll send you to Vegas if you really want to gamble.
Itineraries booked by a Travel Agency averaged almost $80 less than the same itinerary booked on the internet as reported by Topaz International Consultants. Topaz has compared fares booked through travel management companies with those available on public booking sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity and airlines’ own Websites. Topaz did a seven year study that is consistent with that of previous years: 95 percent of agency-booked fares are cheaper or the same as those booked through other channels.
It is true that travel agents do indeed charge fees for their services. But please don't fool yourself. Web-based reservation transactions also come with fees. Try making a change on the web. The question you should be asking is whether you are getting what you are paying for. With the internet, you may never know, or be certain that what you just did was what you intended.
With a qualified travel partner, your reservations are 100% agent supported, and subject to a series of quality control checks before any one transaction becomes official. This solves the "forgetfulness" problem and places both responsibility and accountability on the shoulders of people who are paid to know what they are doing. This means that you will be able to sleep better at night while spending more time preparing for the big meeting on Tuesday.
Unavailable on the Web. A well positioned Travel Agent can offer upgrade possibilities due to their reputation and buying power in the industry. If it’s available, they will get it for you. You will never know what’s out there by booking on the internet.
Voided Tickets / Unused E-tickets
Many well-thought out plans and itineraries change at the last minute. Professional travel advisors not only understand this, whenever you require a sudden change of plans, they are on the case. True professionals understand the travel game runs on its own clock. When booking on the web, you are handcuffed when changes pop up. When an E-ticket goes unused, due to its invisible nature, it is easily forgotten. Because one of the services of a travel agent is to track these unused tickets, they make sure that these "money certificates" are not overlooked. This is a major benefit as more and more E-tickets are issued. Try asking the internet to manage this task for you.
Not a week goes by that we don’t hear the horror stories of doing business with the large online travel giants. Every week it seems our Chicago Tribune Travel Troubleshooter section has another story about spending countless hours on the phone and months of frustration dealing with these companies. Your time is valuable; we can do the heavy lifting when there is a problem and in most cases get you on your way with a minimum of hassle. Using a travel professional gives you the peace of mind and the assurance your travel plans will be something you won’t have to worry about.
About the Authors
Sue and Charlie Shimkus are owners of Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise established in 1974. Sue has served on the travel advisory board for Alaska, Hawaii, & Ireland and executive board of the local chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents. Lake Zurich Travel & Cruise is a member of the Signature Travel Network. Visit www.LZTravel.com for Expert Travel Advice and resources finding the Right Vacation for you!