Until this year, using a travel agent seemed to have become a thing of the past with the vast majority of people researching and booking their holidays themselves, online. But travel has changed since the arrival of COVID-19 and all of the travel restrictions that go along with it. Travel agents offer lots of additional benefits you simply will not get if choosing to book directly yourself.
Perhaps the most appropriate benefit travel agents can offer during these strange times is increased buyer protection.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began earlier this year, flights were cancelled, holiday plans scuppered, and millions of holidaymakers left to try and get refunds themselves; or in the worst case scenarios actually get themselves home.
But people who booked their holidays and getaways through a travel agent had a very different experience. When flights were grounded and holidays unable to be taken, my clients were able to leave everything to me to sort out. From rebooking flights and fighting for refunds, to changing accommodation, transfers and excursions, I have handled everything on behalf of my clients, so they can focus on keeping their family safe and well during these scary times.
A commonly perpetuated myth when it comes to travel agents is that we are more expensive than booking online yourself. This is simply not the case. Many travel agents are franchisees of larger companies, meaning we actually have far more buying power than you as an individual. Travel agents are also ATOL and ABTA protected, meaning if things do go horribly wrong – an airline fails for instance – you are entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel, and hotel costs and flights home if you are abroad.
Another great reason to use a travel agent versus booking online yourself, is our many years of experience. That is, not just in booking holidays on behalf of people, but also holidaying ourselves. Many of us have travelled extensively ourselves to lots of different corners of the world and can give you tips, and advice based on our own personal experiences. Hearing about your travel agent’s first-hand experience at a particularly gorgeous resort is far more useful than reading a handful of online reviews.
Eamonn Holmes, journalist and broadcaster, recently said on This Morning, “Booking with a Travel Agent was seen as the past. Now it’s the future”, and I for one, think he is right.
Next time you are planning a trip, don’t automatically reach for your laptop and begin Googling for flights and hotels, look for a local travel agent instead and let them help you plan your perfect getaway…