Before the recession travel agents saw a discernable downtick in the usage of their services; we as travel consumers became cost-conscience and started relying heavily on the Internet for our travel planning needs. The budget family market and mid-market started drying up, but the luxury market continued to use the travel agency service at a pretty steady volume rate. Commissions were halted or very decreased for the agencies and the consumer was being asked to pay for their previously free services.
“When I entered the business, air ticketing was the giant bulk of the travel agent’s business. Then the airlines decided not to pay travel agents any more. I watched as agencies just closed up shop in defeat,” said Mindy Walts, travel agent with Empress Travel & Cruise in Schenectady. “The thought was who would pay for someone to issue an air ticket or to plan a trip? At the time I thought that we are a commodity with knowledge, not just a ticket seller.”
The expertise left quite a void for the family who plans and saves for their annual vacation. The faceless and nameless travel assistance on the Internet is not always what you expect and money that you thought you may have saved is lost to rules, regulations and timing that is not always explained as it would have been by your local agent. But, today there’s an upswing in booking trips through travel agencies.
Travel Planners can tell you about the ins and outs of destination locations, what to do and what not to do and general first-hand knowledge of where you are going. And most importantly, if something goes wrong, they are there to help you fix it.
The travel agent that you put your trust in can talk about the trip, as well as the travel, sometimes steering you away from a direction that would have been a costly mistake for you. I recently (as an experienced traveler) booked a trip online that I thought was inexpensive, only to find extraordinary problems with the foreign carrier. It was a very costly mistake with no recourse from the Internet travel company or the airline that was supposed to be a partner with a popular American airline. Lesson learned for me!
Said Walts: “Luxury travel has always been strong and is expected to be because luxury clients don’t buy “off-the-shelf” travel products. Most of the time, they purchase custom vacations. If you plan your own custom luxury vacation online you never truly get what you want, so luxury clients use Travel Planners to get exactly what they want.
“Plus Travel Planners usually have been to the places their clients go and can recommend hotels, dining, sightseeing and entertainment. Finally, Travel Planners have contacts in most travel destinations and can provide services one cannot get on their own. Most of the "destination specialists" that I rely on to help plan trips do not work directly with the consumer”.
Whether you plan and dream online or go straight to the agency for assistance with your travel, you may want to follow the masses…back to the travel agent’s door.
For more information contact Mindy Walts at 374.3176.