In a world where technology is right at our fingertips, online travel agencies and book it yourself services are popping up left right and center. With more options for travelers to log on line and book themselves, more travelers are venturing in taking control of their own bookings and utilising online booking services. This is a great new client reach for those who wish to venture out on their own, and focus on their area of expertise. It also provides a new set of challenges and competition for your traditional walk-in travel agents and service providers.
People are more informed, have generally done a lot of research and are wanting a sense of control in their travel itineraries that online booking options provide them. Why not we live in a day and age of information at our fingertips.
So you’ve done some destination research and got an idea of where you may want to stay or tours you may want to include. Now it’s time to find your best deal. So you start jumping onto google & various websites because you got this!
There are certainly some clear advantages to be had in looking after your travel yourself. After all, it’s your holiday, you want it to be exactly what you want and why pay someone else to organise it, when you can book it all yourself online?
As a travel agent and online travel provider this question is something I am asked all the time, I actually love this question, it’s a great question to ask. So I thought I’d address three important topics so you are informed and armed with all you need to know for the next time you’re making your travel plans.
- What are online booking engines.
- How to make an informed decision on which online service provider you choose to use.
- Explain the benefits to using a travel agent services.
What are online booking engines
So, to address this let’s take a look at what a travel agency is, and you’ll see why in a moment.
A travel agent service provides information and recommendations on behalf of (hotels, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, railways, travel insurance, package tours etc) and on sells these services to the traveling client.
There for, all your online booking engines that are not providing the product directly and are on selling you another providers service, are essentially a travel agent service. Unless your booking directly with the airline, hotel or travel provider of choice your essentially utilising an agent service.
There are a wide variety of online agencies, some that provide quick click and book options, last minute or cheap deals and others that provide a more traditional on line agency services that tend to have a niche or are experts in their chosen product or area. Each offer their own benefits to utilising them. So its just a matter of finding the right type of booking experience your looking for in your travel requirements and of course one that you feel a sense of value and trust with.
With this wide range of choice it can often become a little confusing or overwhelming in choosing the right booking provider or agent for your travel plans. Which brings me to my next topic.
How to make an informed decision on which online service provider you choose to use.
So this will depend on what kind of travel services your requiring and how much time you wish to spend doing the footwork.
You have companies that combine a large variety of flights, hotels, and transfers, etc, to book independently or to combine to form a packaged holiday. That can be a great quick one-stop-shop.
You also have options of boutique and specialised companies that provide particular services for either specific destinations or tailored to a certain clientele.
Like any industry be it a large or small company, there are companies that offer great and reliable services and then, some that fall behind when it comes to after-sales service and even more horrifyingly a service at all.
Sometimes that old saying of you get what you pay for, can come back to bite you when your booked travel services don’t turn out to be what you anticipated.
So how can you make sure that you are finding the best fit for your travel needs?
There are a range of things you can do to make sure that your travel provider is both legitimate and servicing their clients at a good level or as we prefer an excelled level of customer service.
A good starting point is to check reviews, you can do this through some reputable travel review companies such as Tripadviser and Trust Pilot.
Here you can usually find both the good the bad and the ugly. So it’s always worth a browse to see what the general feedback is.
Depending on your country in which your based, there are also national and international accreditations that suppliers, agencies and airlines can join to help be an identifier of company legitimacy and security. However, there are a large number of established independent agencies that don’t take that step as they feel no need to pay the extra yearly memberships and are ultimately providing a legitimate and excellent level of customer service and product. But the choice is there for you to determine what’s right for you, I always find reputable client feedback to be the best indicator of an agency’s value.
So what are the benefits to using a travel agent services
So we’ve established that travel agencies come in all shapes and forms. Both instore, online or the new ease of use booking engine type. There is a booking option to suit all clients’ preferences. It is fair to say that these days the traditional travel agent, gets a bad wrap when it comes to price. Often I find agents are held to much higher accountability standard over the cheaper and quicker to book it yourself options. But there are still some real advantages to using an agent.
A travel agency be it in-store or online will always be a good point of call if your someone who likes to have a direct contact experience. Be that in person, over the phone or a combination of both. These days more agencies are becoming more mobile making it easier to consult in more flexible ways, such as after hours, at cafes in your lunch break and even video conference. Whichever way you prefer connecting with a real person to share your ideas and plan your travel. There is a travel agency to suit you.
Specialised and knowledgable Companies
More and more we are seeing boutique and specialised agencies popping up. This is great as instead of going somewhere and having someone that knows a little bit about a lot. You get experienced agents breaking out on their own to provide expert advice and knowledge about your destination, travel style or demographic. These companies know a lot about their destinations and clients’ needs. They help you think about things that you may not have thought about. When traveling to off the beaten track destinations this can be particularly useful. So if you’re traveling somewhere unique or want to. Have a browse for some specilised options.
Saves you time
Not everyone has the time to search through 100 hotels to make sure that it has everything they need. Maybe you’re a busy person and have an in-depth itinerary you want to put together and need some advice and tips on. Regardless of why you’re putting off your travel plans because you simply can’t seem to find the time, contacting a trusted agent can be a quick call or email away, and what could have taken you days to sort through could be in your inbox with a multitude of options and tips in the afternoon.
There is a massive assumption that travel agencies are much higher than online booking engines. This can sometimes be the case for sure, however, is only because these properties are already heavily discounted or on a sale. Outside that most agents have the same access to hotels, flights, and tours and often some deals of their own. If the price is of importance a simple price match request is often easily fulfilled.
Finally, more than likely your agent has spent time putting together your itinerary, you’ve had some contact with them and built a relationship. More than likely they are located locally or nationally. They have probably been easy to get a hold of when you’ve needed to call or email them. So when in those dreaded and unforeseen circumstances happen and they do happen. You can feel comfortable knowing that you have a name and number to call for assistance.
Providing you have a good agent, we are always willing to help when things go pear-shaped. I feel a good indicator of your after service is how your agent continues to look after you after your payment has exchanged hands. I believe you are my client until you land back into the country from your trip.
Overall, I agree and see the value in both online booking engines, specialised agents and our more traditional agent. They all have their benifits and as should be the case, whom you choose to book with should be one that suits your travel requirements.