Ever since I began my new career as a travel agent, I have debated writing this article. I did not want it to come off biased with it being my new profession. However, I see it being extremely beneficial to people trying to decide if there are true benefits to a travel agent. I want to be honest and transparent for our clients. Before working in the market, I saw travel agents as a waste of money and that there had to be a catch. Would it cost more to use a travel agent? Would it even be helpful? Let me answer those questions and tell you why my previous thoughts about travel agents were wrong.
One of the first things I learned after starting as a travel agent was that as a client, I can still have control of my trip. There are some travel agents out there just pushing deals to make a quick buck; that’s not the case here. Don’t get me wrong, we still look for great deals, but the goal is to provide the best travel experience possible (More on this later). The authenticity is real, and we are here to provide as much assistance as needed. When planning our Italy trip, I spent several nights on the phone talking to hotels and searching the web for questions. It would have been so much nicer to just contact my travel agent who had been there before! It would have made it a whole lot easier, and I could still plan all the “fun” activities I wanted to do.
3. I was missing out on firsthand experiences!
When being interviewed for a travel agent job, the first question is always “where have you been?” Thankfully my list was pretty long and filled in a lot of gaps that the other travel agents were missing. The nice part about Lakeland Travel & Cruises is that we work as a team, not individual travel agents. This is a rarity in the world of travel, but it gives you access to more firsthand experiences. If one of us is not familiar with a location, chances are someone else has been there. On my trips, I did things that I liked and others that I did not enjoy. However, I never would have known until I did it in person. We utilize each other to help plan that perfect vacation. Whether it is the best gelato place in Rome or the perfect all-inclusive beach in Mexico, we share that with each other to find the perfect vacation!
6. I always thought travel agents would cost too much!
“What is the cost, where is the catch?” As an independent traveler, I was convinced there has to be a fee; how will they make money? This is the main reason I never talked to a travel agent. I was nervous about getting nickel and dimed for everything. Once I started working at the travel agency, I realized my worries about this expense was completely false. We do charge a “processing fee” for booking individual flights as airlines no longer pay us a commission. However, travel companies like cruise lines, all-inclusives, Disney, hotel chains, etc. will pay us a “standard fee” called commission so we do not have to charge any type of fee. Commission is a standard percentage so “biases” do not change what we sell. A great example would be my two favorites: Cruise and Disney. I can get the exact same price (and possibly a lower price) than what you see on the website! That's right, the Disney Vacation or Alaska Cruise that you are overwhelmed with, we can help plan and purchase it for the exact same price as booking on your own. That means I can assist with dining reservations, room locations, excursions, etc. I know that seems crazy, but it’s true! This is as transparent as it gets, and our knowledge/expertise is available to you!
7. I know what I want, I don’t need a travel agent
So many people are shocked that after so many years of planning my own vacations, I decided to become a travel agent. The real reason is that I did not understand the industry or the people. We are sincerely here to assist you and guide you in the right direction. Even if you know exactly what you want, let us check it out. We can make sure it is the right trip for you, and save you the time of working with the resorts, international suppliers, Disney, cruise lines etc. No need to call a 1-800 number and wait on hold just to answer a million unneeded questions or make a payment. I have done this a lot, and it’s no fun. As travel agents, we have a direct line so just call our number and tell us what you need. Let us do the busy work to book it for you!