I get a lot of emails asking me to help book trips to Hawaii. Well, I’m not a travel agent. It makes me wonder, however, if people are booking their vacations themselves exclusively, or are still using travel agents. I last used a travel agent in the 1990’s, which was before the advent of cell phone apps and online booking. Since then I’ve done a plethora of trips and have booked all forms of cruises, planes, trains, hotels, automobiles and activities.
When I last wrote about travel agencies, research showed that a third of us were willing to consider using agents. At the time I mentioned four companies intent on hooking us up with travel agents. They were Tripology, AdventureLink, Compete4YourSeat and Zicasso. I wondered if those companies were still in business, and if so how they were doing. Here’s the view of their current web traffic. What these low numbers (up to 30,000 recent visitors) tells me is that there remains little interest at least in terms of finding travel agents online.
Why I book all my own travel
As I suspect is true for most of you, I enjoy the adventure, the game if you will, of finding the exact components of a trip to suit my needs at the time. That includes the right accommodation, the best airfare and routing, the exact type of car, the activities, etc. And waiting in watch to pounce on the next great Hawaii airfare deal for example. I find all of this an exciting component of the trip before the trip, if you will. Further, the notion of explaining all of wants and needs to someone else, and expecting them to be able to virtually read my mind and carry out my wishes, seems far fetched. Lastly, since travel agents are commissioned in various and not always obvious ways on what they sell, there are opportunities for me to work better deals myself.
Can a travel agent help if something goes wrong?
Perhaps. In my experience, however, an agent at their desk is going to be able to do little more than I can to remedy any situation. I have never understood that thinking so often expressed that a TA will help you if something should go wrong. If something goes wrong I’d prefer to deal with the airline or the hotel directly.
Complex travel planning.
This is probably the most frequently cited reason for using a travel agent. Finding a destination specific agent you can work with for a complex trip, however, is a challenge in itself. Beyond reputation, experience and professionalism, how do you find someone who will take the time to understand your specific requirements? Well that may just be where one of the sites mentioned above would help.
Would I use a travel agent for another trip to Africa for example. Definitely not. For all the reasons stated above, I’d rather do it myself. But that’s just me. I look forward to hearing your comments.
Here’s a post on the subject that I wrote last year.
Lastly, I’m looking to see if I ever wrote about what happened when my travel agent forgot to inform me that the flight times had changed, I missed my flight and had to charter a plane. No joke.