Travel insights from Taylor Coulson, contributing editor of The Compass

5 Travel Agent Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Planning your dream vacation sounds easy, but using a travel agent is even easier. It’s time to call in the experts: today’s modern travel agent.

Forget the stereotypes that travel agents are expensive, no one uses them and they don’t exist anymore and focus on why trusting today’s modern travel agent is much easier than a DIY vacation. Here are five travel agent stereotypes debunked.

1. Using a travel agent means doing everything the old school way.

False. The travel industry, which includes travel agents, embraces new technology and functionalities as much as any other industry. And, because the industry depends on the health of the world to be successful, having an eco-friendly mindset is more important than ever, so paper itineraries and tickets aren’t as common anymore, as travel agents use email, texts and even Facebook Messenger when communicating with their clients. You may not even have to meet your travel agent in person – you can plan a whole itinerary via digital communication!

2. Booking with a travel agent is expensive and time-consuming.

False. Does researching your entire trip then booking your own flight, hotel room, transportation, entertainment, dining and excursions really sound all that easy? And what if a flight gets delayed, more people join your group or there were hidden fees on that sweet deal you found? Sure, travel agents make commission, but that is paid by the supplier they’re booking with – not you. And if you’re already purchasing it on your own, wouldn’t it make sense to work with a professional who can enhance your trip by a few clicks or talking to the right person?

Travel agents spend time learning your travel preferences, researching destinations and airlines, fact checking and curating personalized itineraries for you. Ultimately, working with a travel agent will save you an incredible amount of time, and what is more valuable than your own time?

3. Talking to a travel agent is similar to speaking with salesmen or saleswomen.

False. Many travel agents have previous experience in other fields before they became travel professionals, so they get it. Their backgrounds can be as diverse as working as trusted police officers, teachers and journalists to later discover their passion and purpose in the world of travel and hospitality. Travel agents are genuinely excited to work with you because of the real conversations that lead to uncovering your vacation styles, hopes and dreams to achieve the ultimate vacation, again and again. Their goal isn’t to end their relationship with you after selling you an epic adventure, but rather be your go-to guide, for every vacation you take moving forward.

4. Traveling with large groups or extended trips is the only time using a travel agent is worth it.

False. Sure, working with a travel agent to successfully book the honeymoon of your dreams or a multi-generation trip is satisfying. But the same satisfaction can – should – be felt by using one for even the simplest of vacations. What if you booked a trip to Europe in August to find out most tourist hot-spots and local businesses are closed for holiday? Travel agents can tell you which seasons are best and worst in low-key places as well as arrange your transportation in destination, find hidden fees and cancellation policies, tell you what type of crowd is joining your two week cruise and so much more.

5. Travel agents are becoming extinct since everything is user-friendly and easy to DIY.

False. The travel industry is booming and it’s because everything is user-friendly and DIY. Travel agents typically take familiarization trips (FAM trips) to new or renovated hotels and resorts so they know what their clients can expect when visiting a new place. This gives them special access that you as a traveler don’t get, or necessarily need. This insider scoop gives agents deep knowledge and expertise to use when working with clients.

A good travel agent stays on top of updates and events in the industry to give you the real scoop on an issue. Remember the Hawaii volcano eruptions everyone was freaking out about in May 2018? Well…they were happening in a very small area on the east side of Hawaii Island, and it was totally fine to travel to Hawaii. Major news outlets didn’t tell you that, but your travel agent could have.

Knowing the ins-and-outs of a situation that could potentially affect travel is what you go to your travel agent for. They are plugged into that information, whether that’s negative destination headlines or advisories, a changing TSA regulation or travel regulations and policies per country. You can’t always find that info on your own.

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