Pros and Cons of using a Travel Agent

by Anshul
a group of houses on a hillside by the ocean

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The role of a traditional travel agent has changed drastically over the years, as they have morphed from just ticket-booking individuals to travel advisors, offering curated experiences. Even premium credit cards and Elite membership in loyalty programs now offer concierge services which straddle the world between booking agents and travel advisors. As someone who enjoys planning trips, I don’t often engage with the typical travel agent. However, I think back to my rigorous work-travel years, and I wouldn’t blink twice before calling my advisor to book a 13-leg, 3-week trip. As a leisure traveller now, I rarely seek out agents or advisors to book my trip. Below, I discuss factors one should consider while deciding on the need for a travel agent.

Time and Convenience

Pros: Using the service of a travel agent or an advisor can be a very hands-off experience. Provide the details, get on with your life, and the agent takes care of your needs. Travel agents are both time-saving and highly convenient options for people pressed for time or just couldn’t be bothered with scavenging for deals online. Does the work trip include a complex travel itinerary? A good travel agent is your best friend. Are you planning a dream vacation with multiple destinations and experiences? Travel Agent is best.

Cons: Working with an agent you trust and who understands your travel needs best is essential. Nothing is more frustrating than a back and forth with a travel agent who cannot ‘make things happen.’ The time and convenience factor can erode quickly and become frustrating if your expectations are unmet. For a short itinerary, booking online is the most accessible and convenient option.

Price Point and Expertise

Pros: Travel agents bring with them a wealth of experience and are subject matter experts who can snag a great deal and know the best time to travel, recommend local experiences and build the best package possible. Travel agents leverage their industry connections and can significantly enhance your travel experience with perks and upgrades (think Virtuoso).

Cons: Travel agents don’t always present the cheapest option. If you are price sensitive, booking online is often the most affordable, especially during promotions and sales (think Black Friday, for example). While travel advisors can add perks and value add-ons, they don’t come cheap, considering service fees and commission margins). Everyone’s definitions of luxury vary, and a travel agent’s definition may differ wildly from yours. Ditto for ‘cheap.’

Reliability and Travel hiccups

Pros: Travel agents help minimize unpleasant surprises through re-bookings, different routing/products, fee waivers etc. If you are stuck at an airport, agents can often be easier to get hold of, re-plan your itinerary as needed. Depending on your needs, a travel agent is also best suited to recommend insurance plans based on your destination and personal profile. Think of any travel-related hiccup and the need to speak with a human to get things sorted; travel agents are the easiest to work with.

Cons: Availability of travel agents and 24/7 service model is hard to come by and expensive when it does. Access to a travel agent outside their business hours is a severe barrier, especially during travel interruptions. Many travel agents stop working for you once their invoice is paid. “missed connection? Contact the airline” is not unheard of. DIY bookings are often easier to alter than wait for a travel agent.

Take Away

You do you. There is always room for a good travel advisor, and a good travel agent builds clientele with word-of-mouth. Finding the right travel advisor for your needs is also an exercise. Regardless of who does the planning/booking, ensure you travel with all necessary documentation and do your due diligence. So no matter which way you lean, it’s never a complete hand-off process 🙂

Have you used a travel agent before? Share your thoughts with a comment below!

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Greg Centre December 23, 2023 - 9:09 am

Points, Miles, and Bling discuss the pros and cons of using a travel agent, amazing. In your opinion, what situations would make you lean towards or away from using a travel agent for your trips?

Clare Martin August 10, 2023 - 8:38 am

It caught my attention when you informed us that planning our trip will be hands-off if we work with a travel agent since all we need to do is provide them with the details they require about what we want for our trip and they will take care of our needs. I want to go on a holiday trip soon, so I am considering going to a travel agency soon to see my options. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for a travel agency in the area that I might call for inquiries soon.

Elina Brooks July 6, 2023 - 2:41 am

My kids and I are going on vacation this summer, so I was thinking of consulting with a travel agent soon to help plan our itinerary and prepare everything we need to make the trip fun and exciting for all of us. I’m glad you mentioned that travel agents can help us build the best package possible by recommending us great deals and local experiences using their expertise to make our trip memorable. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for a travel planning agency to hire for help soon.

The Truth About Travel Agents | West East Travel November 3, 2022 - 12:52 am

[…] we must face the reality that travel agents also have disadvantages. Sometimes, travel agents can be more expensive than if you were to travel solo. This is because […]

Rahul Arora July 4, 2020 - 3:41 am

Some pros and cons of Travel Agents-
Advice and Insight into the Industry
Access to Better Deals
Makes Luxury, Group, and Exotic Travel Simpler
Keep It Simple
You Must Do Your Homework to Find a Reliable Agent

Oscar Morrison December 31, 2019 - 11:04 am

Thanks for helping us weigh the benefits of using a travel agent. We’re thinking of surprising our kids with a trip this summer and might want help planning it out. Knowing what we could expect from an agent will help us make a decision.

The Pros and Cons of Using A Travel Agent – Ryan Vinco February 27, 2019 - 12:38 pm

[…] of the cons to hiring a travel agent is that depending on what the parameters are of your trip it could significantly increase the cost for planning your trip. Travel agents do not necessarily have to set a base rate of how much they can charge for their […]

Bernard December 12, 2018 - 6:07 pm

I agree with you completely.
I really like and trust my travel agent and wish I could give her more business but 2/3 of my travel is on points.

Points Miles and Bling December 12, 2018 - 7:14 pm

Trust is everything. My agent from work is awesome and I recommend him to everyone. Unfortunately, my own travel is mostly on points as well so get to interact with him much..


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