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Is the age of the travel agent dead? No. Here’s why.

Should you use a travel agent? Heck yes!

I love the internet, but there’s something to be said for talking to an expert. For all the ways the internet has positively changed the travel industry, I’d argue that the sheer volume of information makes trip planning a lot more overwhelming. Spending hours online reading traveler reviews can’t replace the guidance, care and personal service of a good travel agent. That’s why I love AAA Travel. These travel experts will design a trip that perfectly fits your specific needs.

In a nutshell, a travel agent provides value by helping consumers cut through the clutter.

They provide travelers with a unique and personalized experience. Working with a AAA travel agent means you get the inside track from someone who has spent years building relationships within the industry. Studies have shown working with a travel agent saves travelers over three hours of time spent planning per trip. Eureka! Now I have time to get a haircut!

Travel agents are known for their ability to put together the impossible– a vacation that fits needs, wants and budgets. There’s the added security of an expert in your corner when things go awry. For example, cancelled flights, rebooking hotels or making sure you have a plan in case the storm of the century hits. A travel agent acts as your personal advocate if things go wrong or services haven’t met your expectations.

AAA Travel

So, how do you find a good travel agent?

Talk to friends and family! See if they’re working with someone they love. You can also schedule a call or a meeting with your local AAA branch.

And when you do meet them, ask questions like:

  • What is the agent’s area of expertise?
    Some agents specialize in Europe or Safari, others Cruises and the Caribbean.
  • What is your personal travel history? 
    Find out how much “boots on the ground” experience this agent has.
  • Have you visited my travel destination?
  • How much experience do you have booking travel and excursions to this area?

I know what you want to ask: how much is this going to cost? 

Using a travel agent can actually help save money. Travel agents’ pay structures vary, but most of their income comes in the form of some base pay + commission—which is paid by vendors, like hotels, airlines or rental car companies. Some travel agents do charge a nominal fee for their services. However, it can often be more than made up in the savings and added value. In the case of AAA, most branches offer free trip planning services to members, as an added benefit of your membership.

You may think an agent who is commissioned by a third party is not working in your interest. On the contrary, it’s that agent’s hard-won relationships with the travel industry that you are benefitting from. Agents receive special access to deals that you can’t find online. In addition to exclusive pricing, this could mean upgrades in a room, a free spa visit, breakfast included or any number of amenities that will be passed down to you, at no extra cost.

why work with a travel agent

It’s also worth noting that agents wouldn’t survive without repeat business and referrals.

A good agent will work extra-hard to get to know you and learn your travel style. They want to create the trip of your dreams so you’ll want to work with them again (and tell all your friends and family).

My advice? Consider bringing a travel agent into your life.

The trips we take with our families and friends are becoming too few, and therefore, far more important. When we do all finally manage to find time to get away with one another, it will be wonderful peace of mind to know you are in good hands. All you have to do is enjoy your trip with the ones you love.  And see why now more than ever all the reasons you should use a travel agent for your next vacation.

This post was sponsored by AAA Travel, but all opinions are my own.

Do you work with a travel agent? Do you like it? Any tips for finding a good one? Share in the comments!

For all the ways the internet has positively changed the travel industry, I’d argue that the sheer volume of information makes trip planning a lot more overwhelming. Spending hours online reading traveler reviews can’t replace the guidance, care and personal service of a good travel agent.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. We used a Travel agent for our first trip to Ireland and that was it.
    We found with research through sites such as TripAdvisor, Hipmunk and you can save a lot of money.

  2. I have had nothing but bad experiences with AAA Travel the few times I’ve tried to get them to supplement arrangements I was working on. Once I was flying into Milan Malpensa and out the next day from Linate and was looking for a hotel near Linate. I had to talk for at least ten minutes to convince her Milan has two airports. Another time, I needed a train ticket from Vienna to Udine, and another woman insisted the route did not exist. It did. After a third comparable incident, I gave up on them. They deal with packages, tours, and cruised, but even those are lower priced elsewhere for the same items.

  3. I used to use travel agents in the beginning of my travel days. After several years, but I found that I found better and cheaper prices than my travel agent. so now on my yearly international travels, I pick the country and then decide which company to go with myself. I read a lot of what people have to say about companies and their experience to decide which company to go with. I always go with the most recommendations.

  4. We used a Travel agent for our third trip I guess and it was to Kerela, India and one more time when we went to Orissa, India and that was it. We found with research through various travel sites such as TripAdvisor, Go-ibibo, etc. for getting information about the destinations. The arrangements made by the Travel agents where very nice and main was in Budget. We enjoyed a lot. So, Thank you for sharing this information. Keep Posting

  5. We used to do all of our own research, planning and searching…. Now I use a TA. It saves me time and if something happens… They fix it while we sit on the beach with a drink…. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to research some but the rest is up to the TA….

  6. Those who commented above are missing out on an agent’s expertise and a personalized trip. Speaking from experience, everything Sam says is absolutely spot on and doesn’t cost you any more. Find a travel agent who has specialized in a niche in the manner you are interested in traveling; i.e., luxury cruising or a destination – Italy. Those who work for themselves, but are a member of a host agency or consortoria, devote a lot of time and will be able to get exactly what you desire at a lower price than any online agency or large travel agency, due to having a superior relationship with suppliers. They will also put their heart and soul into all of the phases of your travel. Trust that the experts know what you don’t know and most will have your back 24/7 if a problem arises during travel. Also, ALWAYS purchase third-party insurance (not from vendor or supplier) for peace of mind.

  7. I have a wonderful travel agent. I am a detailed traveler and he is capable of doing things that I cannot do. His knowledge base is so vast and I have complete confidence in him and my vacations have been fabulous, start to finish.

  8. Being a Travel Advisor for 24 years, I recommend you find a professional based on their experience and what they specialize in, just like you pick a doctor or lawyer. Most of those .com travel sites are not based in the US and don’t really care if you have the best price or customer service should something go wrong or you have questions. We can do many things on our own like cutting your own hair or selling your own home, but would you? So if a TA’s price is same or less than you are finding online, why not use them as they have insider knowledge, direct hotel contacts to request bedding or special birthday or anniversary celebrations to make your trip that much more special.

  9. I think you made some good points in this post. I found it totally manageable but just wanted to add a little info about the Travel-agent. I have also found this resource useful and its related to what you are mentioning.

    1. Professional Travel Agent -Consultants offer so much more than Google and Trip Advisors simply because they are qualified, trained, skilled and experienced to cut through the clutter, assist with the nitty gritty in proper documentation and make travel happen and advise you after getting personal your age, physical condition etc the type of accommodation, types of activities best suited based on your interests and customize your entire trip. Finally remember they process the power of influence.

  10. You made a good point that I should ask my potential travel agent what their area of expertise is before considering to hire them. It finally sunk in on my 40th birthday that if I want to travel the world I will have to start now because I’m not getting any younger. Plus, getting to invite my friends along would be the perfect way to catch up.

  11. Just wanted to reaffirm all of the above and more. We were recently on a trip to Australia and were in extreme jeopardy of not being able to return home to the United States. We contacted our travel agent Judy at AAA midlantic and she was absolutely a lifesaver. She successfully got us tickets home on what were very limited flights and made reservations at the necessary hotels we
    had to stay at for our trip home. We would have
    been lost without her. So yes definitely use a travel agent in our case we are extremely grateful for the hard work she must have done to get us home safely

  12. I had heard lots of recommendations to try AAA Travel, so when we started planning a trip to Europe, we met with an agent at our local AAA. We walked out about 20 minutes later, really disappointed. We explained at the outset that we were planning a trains only trip to several countries and wanted assistance in planning scheduling, getting to and from Europe and the best use of our time. All she wanted to do was book us on tours of Europe, starting with Viking River Cruises and so forth. Instead, I researched AirBnBs, small hotels, and the various sight seeing and local tours in each place. My husband worked out the train schedules, the overnight bus from Vienna to Trogir, and the flight from Split to Rome. I did the transatlantic flights, with our return flight done on AA Advantage airline miles. It took us about six months of researching and planning, which was actually part of the fun of the trip, and we spent 5 weeks in Europe, from Amsterdam across Europe and into Italy for about half the estimated cost. Based on our experience, I very much doubt I will ever work with a travel agent.

  13. Thank you for publishing this. As a travel agent, and as someone who has lived, worked and traveled throughout Europe, your comments about someone with “boots on the ground”, are spot on.

    And I can appreciate the comments from those that have had a bad experience with travel agents. But we are not all alike. A successful travel agent understands first that their success first is dependent on your experience. I can share a personal experience. One of the reasons I decided to pursue this as a career was when we were planning a trip to England. I visited one travel agent and explained that I did not want a bus tour, and that I wanted to stay in one location, and really deeply experience the local area. The first thing this agent did was to pull out a list of bus tours. Obviously, this person was not listening to me.

    I eventually found an agent that helped me plan the perfect trip. Planning a fully customized trip is a lot of work, but it is what people a lot of people really want. And I can tell you that it is definitely something that you will remember.

    Finally, I have to add that your series on the Travel Channel years ago was another reason that I decided to pursue this as my second career in life. I am champing at the bit for the days when international travel is open again, so I can personally get back to Europe.

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Is the age of the travel agent dead? No. Here's why.
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