Travel Agent or Online Booking?



In this economy budgets are tight and more people are looking to save a buck. Travelers are tempted by the convenience and price tag of online booking but is it really the best way to go?

“The more components you add to your trip — hotel, plane tickets, etc. — the more you should consider a travel agent,” says Chris Elliott, National Geographic Traveler magazine’s ombudsman and syndicated travel columnist. “The other thing, a human agent has the experience of visiting a hotel or a ship or a part of town. There’s nothing like walking into an agency and talking to someone who has been there.”

Terri Maldonado, a travel agent specializing in cruises, says people take their chances booking online. “I personally believe buying travel online is a lot like ordering a hamburger at a fast-food place,” she says. “It may look like a hamburger, but you have no idea what you’re actually getting.”

Adds agent Carolyn Bachman: “The biggest advantage of going with a travel agent is if something goes wrong, you have someone there to help you and straighten things out.”

To ensure a happy client, agents will:

• Double-check dates to make sure everything matches up. Agents can void bookings, which is almost impossible on the Internet.

•Make sure a client has all the necessary documents for travel, including a passport.

• Search for the cheapest fares. Travel consultants found lower airline fares 93.6% of the time for an average savings of $80 in 2004, according to travel industry auditor Topaz International.

Although the initial lure of online booking sites may be appealing, when it comes to the bigger picture of enjoying your travel experience, having the support of a travel agent just might end up saving you time, effort, and most importantly money! Contact our travel specialists for your next special getaway. We are here to do the dirty work for you!

Sonja Arrasi, Cruise & Travel Masters
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