In today’s era of online research and comparison shopping, travel agents may seem like a relic from the days of PanAm flights and smoking in the office. But that’s very much not the case! Modern travel agents are still a terrific resource for travelers, and their added cost is often worth it. Except when it isn’t.
Here’s our take on the pros and cons of hiring a travel agent.
Pro: Travel agents can save you time
From our experience, one of the biggest benefits is that working with a professional takes a lot of the hassle out of the process. The average flight shopper spends about five hours hunting for flights. Working with a travel agent can cut that down significantly.
Pro: Travel agents have insider knowledge
Because agents work with sophisticated systems and have a network of connections at different destinations, they can get you tons of perks, last minute add-ins, and upgrades. A good travel agent brings more than just their technical skills to the table, they bring mutually beneficial relationships that sometimes end up saving you money.
Con: You can probably do it cheaper yourself
Look, we’re not going to say that you should hire a travel agent all the time. Modern flight comparison tools have made buying flights faster and cheaper than ever before, and with a little time and patience, you can get your flight and travel details booked without an agent. We wouldn’t suggest booking any direct flights or routine, domestic flights through a travel agent, for example, unless…
Pro: Travel agents can simplify planning large group travel
If you’re booking flights and hotels for a group of people, travel agents can save you a boatload of time and effort. Planning flights for more than two or three people is like herding cats in a hurricane, and a travel agent will do it for you. And probably do it better.
Con: You need to be sure you’re working with a good agent
Novice agents, part-time agents, and lazy agents won’t give you the expertise and peace of mind that a seasoned one will, so if you’re prepared to spend some money working with a pro, don’t cheap out or go with an agent who doesn’t come well-recommended.
Pro: Peace of mind
When the unthinkable happens (cancelled flight, natural disaster, airline strike), who would you rather be talking to: a travel agent you know and trust or an airline representative halfway across the planet? From travel insurance to insider connections, travel agents will take care of any trip crises that you might end up facing. For a lot of people, that security is well worth working with a professional.
The bottom line:
Travel agents can save you time, stress, and sometimes even money. They bring an expertise to the table that can open doors and make your trip more fun and less risky, but you’ll need to be sure you’re working with a legitimate agent, and be prepared to pay them for their expertise and time.