|Travel Agency, Sustrans (Photo credit: Platform London|
One of the best parts of using a travel agent is that they have information. If you are not sure on where you want to go, what you want to do or any other aspect of your trip, they can help you to figure it out. Have some information when you go to visit them such as when you want to go, what your budget it and what you want. If you know where you want to go, that is definitely a huge advantage.
Travel agents know of the places you want to go and can give you feedback. Of course, this only goes so far as it depends if they have been to the place you are looking to go. I know that here, many travel agents are given trips to Mexico and other Caribbean destinations to check the places out and to recommend them to clients. They are not the stress free holidays we get as they are put onto buses and escorted around. But, they will have at least potentially been to the place you are considering and can give you an opinion. They can tell you what different airlines are like and the feedback they have received and the same for chain hotels.
If your plans are complicated, using a travel agent can save you a lot of headaches. They can figure out the best ways to go, which plans will work together, and how to get the best bang for your buck. They also have access to systems that you cannot access on the sites that let you create our own bookings.
I have worked with a variety of agents over the years for my holidays. In fact, my trip to Australia/New Zealand, I worked with a local agent to book my flights and my transportation. But when I started to plan my Thailand trip, I went to a travel agent (the prior one had moved on) and they couldn't bother to spend time with me. they gave me brochures and sent me on my way. I figured out what I wanted to do and emailed them, and they never bothered to reply to my email. Too bad for them.
Depending on what your plans are, and what you want to do, agents may charge a fee for their services. I have heard of consultation fees but have never actually encountered one myself. Typically the agent will then refund this if you book your travel through them. Another fee they may charge is if you plan to travel on reward points. They can book this for you but will need your information and they may charge a fee as they will not make anything on the booking. Make sure to ask up front so you are aware of these costs.
When it comes to travel agents, you are not restricted to just the ones locally. I have booked directly with companies and their agents and they are great too, they want you to book their trips so they will be as accommodating as they can.
Australia/New Zealand - Used agent for flights and transportation, very helpful.
Fiji - Used an agent in Australia, had pre-booked flights but that was it.
Thailand Flights - Used Air Miles travel agent, contacted several times, easy to work with.
Thailand Tours - Worked directly with Intrepid agents, easy to work with, mostly through email. Located in Australia. Had issues with my one tour being cancelled but they were easy to work with to find a solution and they provided advice on local transportation.
What kind of experiences have you had?