It was a trifecta of positive news stories for travel agents over the weekend, as three consumer media outlets ran articles suggesting that travelers are well-advised to use a professional travel agent.
The Boston Globe’s “There’s A Travel Agent For That” led off with a testimonial noting that “in a time of information overload and complexity, travel advisors can save you time, money, and aggravation, and provide first-hand insight into destinations around the world.”
It offered five tips for finding “an advisor who will best manage your valuable vacation time,” including:
1. Check credentials, and use a Certified Travel Counselor with an ASTA seal of approval.
2. Do a little research on the destination and ask what the agent will do if things go wrong. “The best travel agents are there for you before, during, and after the trip,” it quotes Steve Jermanok, co-owner of ActiveTravels in Newton, as saying.
3. Expect expertise.
4. Look for someone with a specialty in the niche in which you are interested.
5. It’s personal. Choose someone with whom you connect.
Meanwhile, NorthJersey.com’s “Why Travelers Are Returning To Travel Agents” article noted that “no one is more likely to drown in a tsunami of information than the DIY travel planner.” It cited data from MMGY showing that 18% of travelers used an agent—a 50% jump from the previous year—and quoted Virtuoso’s Matthew Upchurch.
And in perhaps the least likely place for a travel-agent commercial, Yahoo Sports ran an overall positive piece on “The Pros And Cons Of Using A Travel Agent." Written by Liz Weiss, travel editor for consumer advice at U.S. News & World Report, it quotes Jay Johnson, president of Coastline Travel Advisors; travel journalist and consumer advocate Chris Elliott, and ASTA director of communications Erika Richter.
Even the two cons here are not really negative. The first quotes Elliott noting that some agents charge a fee, which makes them perhaps not cost-effective for a short hop. "If you're planning the trip of a lifetime or a destination honeymoon, that’s when you call the experts," he says. “Alternatively, if you're planning a quick flight from New York City to Los Angeles, it's easy enough to book it yourself online directly or through a discount booking site.”
The second con is the challenge of finding a good agent. “If you work with someone who is inexperienced or has an incentive to book you with a certain supplier, they may not be prioritizing your best interests. And you likely won't get a great deal, so choose your travel specialist wisely,” it suggests.