Do you fly in and out of cities frequently?
Do you have little time and patience to conduct research on your own?
Are you planning a large group trip?
Are you heading to a very exotic location or brand new resort area?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you really should consider roping in a travel agency. But, with so many people posing as travel agents, it is important to consider the following factors before you pick someone –
Does your travel agent trouble shoot effectively?
A travel agent can act as a critical safety net when you are travelling and that is one of the most important reasons to consider planning your trip via a travel agent. So check with your travel agent if you don’t like a particular travel time or airline, do they find alternatives for you? If a crisis happens, such as a flight delay or hotel overbooking, do they solve such issues quickly?
Are the services provided offering value for money?
Cost is another factor when comparing travel agents and perhaps the most objective way to assess them Travel agents primarily earn money via commissions. They are able to offer better pricing by either sharing some of their commission with you or by bulk bookings at lower rates. As far as the former is concerned, with the advent of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) with their economies of scale and wafer thin margins, many offline travel agencies may struggle to match pricing discovered online. However, that’s where the good agencies come into play, by scouring for the really smart deals and niche offers. Importantly, beyond airfares and hotels, which have well organized online versions, offline travel agencies also offer services that extend to local transport booking and even tickets to museums, parks etc. That is where they are able to provide value by protecting you from getting fleeced by local operators. On the flip side, pay attention to red flags such as are they pushing certain hotels and airlines on purpose because of incentive programs they are following? Make sure you do a balanced assessment of the cost of service s being provided.
How’s the buzz?
Do a bit of social media stalking to see if customers are satisfied or disgruntled. Look into their standard response time. Do they have any accreditation or certifications? Are they seasoned? A very important aspect of a good agency is that they actually have members of their team visit destinations to familiarize themselves with on-ground realities. Ask them specific questions about local conditions to assess whether they have an onground understanding of your destination.
Innovation and Curation
Many travel agencies, especially niche ones, differentiate themselves by offering unique itineraries with new and innovative ideas and curating the best experiences available at a destination. These can be hard to find and plan for on your own. Whether these seem like gimmicks or actual upgrades to your travel experience is something you need to assess when picking a travel agency.
We hope these pointers help you make a sound decision surrounding which travel agency to utilize for your future travel plans. Comment below and let us know if there’s a travel agency you swear by!