Can Travel Agents Get Cheaper Flights?
There are so many price comparison websites these days that you might think a travel agency is obsolete if you pass one on the high street. Travel agents aren’t dying out just yet, though. Many people still prefer to trust travel agents to book the best deals for package holidays. Some people prefer to look everything up by themselves to check all of the prices and details. However, there are plenty of myths surrounding both travel agencies and DIY online bookings. Are travel agents cheaper and easier, or are they just trying to get more money out of you? It all depends on your situation.
Can you get cheaper flights through a travel agent?
The reason that you are likely to get a cheaper flight with a travel agent is that travel agencies will have established relationships with airlines. They can book consolidator fares (discounted seats) in bulk to sell onto customers. If you need to book a hotel or a rental car in addition to your flight, travel agents are also likely to get you a better deal on an inclusive package. Travel agents are also much better at finding discount fares for group bookings. As part of industry networks, travel agents often have contracts with brands which gives them access to preferred pricing. Connections like these mean that travel agents are often aware of upcoming sales or special offers. They are often able to secure additional amenities for free or at lower prices than if you were booking upgrades yourself. This increases the value of your bookings. Travel agents are also aware of the “hidden fees” that are likely to pop up later on when you’re booking on your own. They can advise you of all the costs upfront and save you from paying more than you originally thought. Travel agent prices are usually inclusive of travel insurance as well, which protects your investment if things change.
What are the benefits of booking with a travel agent?
The thing about using a travel agent is that not only can they source exclusive deals, but there is a whole range of other benefits as well. If time is money, then a travel agent can save you both by checking prices and availability and putting the best possible package together. They will work with you to tailor your trip to your needs, which will reduce the stress that can come with planning holidays. Travel agencies can coordinate all aspects of your travel much more smoothly than you could alone, trying to communicate with all of the individual companies yourself. The agents will also have specialist insight into tourism tips for your destination. They can advise you on exchange rates, attractions and activities, local customs, and legal requirements. Things like Visas and vaccinations can be a hassle, but agents can organize these for you. Handing your holiday to the professionals means that you will receive expert guidance and customer support whenever you need it. Their bookings come with added protection in case of unexpected changes.
What are the disadvantages of booking through a travel agent?
All of that sounds very good, especially if you want to save time but still have everything planned out. However, there is a certain lack of flexibility that comes with agreeing to such a rigid itinerary. Another reason to hold back from them is that travel agents often earn commission on their sales, meaning that they have incentives to book particular things. Can you really trust their recommendations, in that case? It’s difficult to be sure that they are truly advocating for you. Prices can also vary for more or less the same package from travel agency to travel agency. This is why you should still carry out quote comparisons even with travel agency bookings. It is always a good idea to do your own research first to avoid being blindly influenced. In addition, if you find a cheaper price elsewhere, you could ask the travel agent to price-match. They might actually do it. Another downside is that only the travel agency will be able to access bookings and resolve any issues that pop up. This is only ideal if you can actually contact the travel agency when you need to.
Can you get cheaper flights if you book online by yourself?
If you are only booking a return flight, then it is likely that you can get cheaper fares by booking yourself. Travel agents are only cheaper overall if you are booking a lot of other things as well, such as hotels, meals, attraction tickets, airport transfers or hire cars. Booking online means that you will have to shop around yourself, but there are price comparison websites specifically for flights that will do most of the work for you anyway. You can even set up price alerts if you’re waiting for fares to drop before buying. There are also lots of tricks that you can use to secure better deals online. For example, check prices on different days and from different airports to see how much you could save by adjusting your departures and arrivals. You might also be able to get cheaper flights if you book with different airlines instead of using the same one for each leg of the journey. However, the costs of travelling to and from airports could erase any savings.