How times have changed in the past year or so. First the consumer press started acknowledging the wisdom of using good travel agents and the value they can bring. Now, it seems, the consumer press is even becoming sympathetic to agents charging fees – a practice that until recently was scorned as creating an unnecessary expense for consumers who could just book themselves.
In an article titled “How Travel Agent Fees Work,” Travel + Leisure this week noted that “anyone who has worked with a great travel agent will tell you that they’re worth their weight in gold.”
“Aside from taking the stress out of travel planning and dealing with snafus while you’re on the road, they can also open doors to reservations, experiences, and activities that you might otherwise not be able to find on your own. But all of that great service comes at a cost.”
Travel agent fees run from $100 to $500 and up, the article says. “That fee can be charged up front as a security deposit and can either be returned to you at the end of the planning process or, more commonly, applied to the cost of the trip itself.”
The Travel + Leisure article quotes David Rubin, an LGBT luxury travel expert, who charges a nonrefundable $250 travel designing fee that “may be applied to the cost of the trip depending on the work involved in the request.” It also quotes travel advisor Betsy Donley of Camelback Odyssey, whose $250 Plan to Go research fee comes with an outline of a vacation plan.
“When in doubt,” the article advises consumers, “ask an agent for clarification about their fee structure before proceeding with your plans.”