Updated: Nov 3, 2020
The Internet has turned everyone into a self-appointed Travel booker. A lot of people don’t understand the point of booking travel through an Agent and paying more for a product they can just book themselves.In this article, we will discuss one of the most important questions people really want to know.
Is booking your own travel cheaper than using an expert?
The simple answer is yes but it is not always upfront or quantifiable.
I started in the Travel Industry 10 years ago and back then people would say ‘The Travel Agent’ was a dying profession. Soon the internet would completely overtake and there would be no more need for them.
10 years later, I can say with confidence, Travel Specialists are just as relevant and necessary today as they have always been and looking at the world in the aftermath of the Covid19 Global pandemic, booking travel online without an Agent in 2020 is as close as it gets to gambling.
Here are the top three reasons why using a Travel Expert will save you money…
1. Price vs Value
Price is just the cost of a product whereas value implies the utility of worth. Think of brand selection. Sometimes we opt for a more expensive product because we know that it will last twice as long as the cheaper product, preventing us from having to replace it twice as often so saving us money in the long run, that is value!
Now let’s think about experts in other industries such as hairdressers, dentists, Real estate agents, Insurance Brokers, the list goes on. We rely on experts not because they are cheaper upfront but because they save us time and money and provide inside information and security in a field we would otherwise know little about. Sure, we could cut our own hair, find our own houses or pull our own teeth out but most reasonable people don’t, because reasonable people understand the value of an expert.
In Travel, a Travel Expert is a person who specializes in and sells one or many destinations for a period longer than 2 years. They are uniquely positioned with information and resources which they draw on in a professional capacity. This does not refer to someone who has backpacked the world or a Travel Blogger. You may be well travelled or be the best Google researcher in the world, it does not mean you are able to navigate the myriad of airline rules, travel restrictions, product and destination limitations or have the resources and problem solving skills that an Agent has spent years learning and acquiring.
The question is why we not extend the same considerations when purchasing a Travel product that can cost more than a car.
2. Knowledge is power
Firstly, a Travel product is just a travel product. It does not tell you if the product you are buying for your trip is in fact the best. It does not tell you what ancillary products or requirements you will have to purchase in order to actually travel and it certainly does not tell you if there is a better option available that you have not considered. Buying travel online is like buying an engine cleaning kit without the instructions or specifics. What engine is it for? What does it do? Is it a credible option? These are valid questions and should extend to your rationality when booking travel.
I speak on behalf of every single Agent when I say we have all had clients who initially chose a booking engine for a few hundred Rand less and ended up losing thousands to cancel or change it because of information they were not advised of or made aware of at time of or after booking.
The countless times people have cost themselves more money because of human error or ignorance is insurmountable.
Some of the most common mistakes where travellers write off money are:
-Booking flights directly with airlines or booking engines with incorrect names, dates, destinations
-Missing flights because of lack of communication about schedule changes or cancellations
-Using incorrect passport information or not checking passport validity
- Not correctly observing destination entry requirements or not obtaining the correct visa
- Booking hotels that are not properly vetted or in the completely wrong location
-Car rental bookings without reading the fine print
Yes, you may pay a service fee for expertise, support and guidance but I guarantee you it will be a lot cheaper than the alternative when things go wrong. The amount of call centres, hundreds spent on call minutes and time wasted trying to manage your own travel will easily surpass the amount you tried to save on a service fee.
Travel Agents are connected
Travel Agents work under the umbrella of Consortiums and Travel Associations.
Consortiums combine the turnover and yield of all their affiliated agents and negotiate preferred rates with Airlines and suppliers that are exclusive and private. It is with this leverage that Agents are able to get rates that the public would simply not have access to. This helps Agents build in their mark up without having to add anything on the front end. This means you don’t pay more. In fact, these discounts can be extended to the clients so that you pay less than online and the Agent still earns.
Travel Associations provide Agents with inside and direct airline and travel information and resources that will guide them in offering you the most suitable travel product and current relevant travel guidance. Leveraging on their years of experience, will open up the door to products you cannot find on Google. You will also be showed better or more innovative ways to build your itinerary that you may not have otherwise considered.
Agents have spent years building relationships with key people in the industry that include Airline and hotel Representatives as well as other Agents. These relationships give them the scope to get waivers and favours when needed and include discounts
In conclusion, Using an Agent to manage your travel provides benefits and savings that far outreach the upfront cost of an airline ticket and in today's volatile and ever changing global environment, will provide you the support you need to ensure you are looked after every step of the way. Travel Culture is here to be your partner and expert in Travel .
The World awaits