Why It Pays to Book With a Travel Agent

Booking a trip often proves to be an extremely stressful, grueling undertaking. You can spend hours online searching for deals on flights and hotels, bouncing from one website to another in pursuit of the perfect price. This kind of process is often headache-inducing: Approximately 20 percent of more than 2,000 travelers worldwide said it took them more than five hours to search and book travel online, according to a recent survey by the I.B.M. Institute for Business Value.

To avoid the hassle, some consumers are turning to travel agents. After suffering for years, the travel-agent industry is now experiencing substantial growth. Nearly 1 in 3 leisure agencies is hiring, according to PhoCusWright, a travel research firm. And the American Society of Travel Agents reports that 57 percent of independent agents saw an increase in business in 2011.

Faced with countless choices for flights, hotels, car rental, and tours, some consumers are dumping the DIY approach. "There are simply too many travel products in the market today for individuals to decipher on their own," says James Shillinglaw, editor-in-chief of Travalliancemedia, a media network for travel agencies. "You need a guide to help you cut through all the different things out there that are available."

"There's a difference between price and value," adds Arnie Weissmann, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, a newspaper that covers the travel industry. The more travelers realize that, he says, the more they're opting to use a travel agent. Here are six reasons to consider booking your next vacation with a travel agent:

Save time. An agent can save you time by vetting thousands of flight and hotel options to find the right fare at the lowest rate. "There's just a glut of information, and you need someone to make sense of it all," says John Peters of Tripology.com, a website that matches consumers to travel agents.

Stephanie Axelrod and her husband, who live in Fairfax, Va., used Tamalpais Travel to book a trip to Spain and Italy in 2010, and saved a lot of time in the process. "After we spent many hours on the Internet ourselves, we found using an agent made the whole experience more pleasant and less time-consuming," she says.

Save money. Some people shy away from using a travel agent because they think they'll be charged extra for the agent's services. Some agents charge additional fees (for example, a $25 fee for their time and research), but most make their commission through the travel suppliers. "You're going to get more value from your money booking with a travel agent," Peters says. Nina Meyer, president of the American Society of Travel Agents, says you can also save big on airfare with the right agent: "I have seen in the past people save anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,000 on a ticket."

Axelrod says she and her husband found it difficult to find good flight deals on their own. "The travel agent was able to get deals we weren't able to find," she says.

Learn what you want. "Very often, people don't really know what kind of trip they want," Shillinglaw says. It's the travel agent's job to provide you with a number of options they think you'd enjoy. Not only will they help you book a trip, they'll help you build the trip.

Connections. Don't underestimate a travel agent's extensive Rolodex. Agents may have people on the ground who you can connect with, such as a local tour guide, as well as people you can reach out to if you encounter any problems. "Having access to a travel agent's insiders makes it just an overall better customer service experience than going at it alone," Peters says.

Kate Rice, who covers airlines for TravelPulse.com, says agents who book a lot of flights develop strong relationships with sales representatives. "That means they have double leverage that they can use on your behalf--the purchasing power of the agency group they're affiliated with, as well as the personal relationships they have with their sales reps," she says.

Authenticity. The right travel agent will enlighten you about trip options you may not be able to find online. "It's about knowing what the real local find is, whether that be a great dinner at a small café or tickets to a private show," Peters says. "When people travel, they don't want to travel like a tourist. So it's about the travel specialist being able to help people find unique life experiences that they'll remember."

Knowledge. Flawless travel plans lie in the details, and travel agents are experts when it comes to handling those details. "It could be a pretty picture, but what if there's construction going on? What if it's in a bad neighborhood?" says Meyer. "Agents have that kind of background knowledge."

Axelrod booked five of the eight hotels on her trip based on recommendations from the travel agent, but says she wishes she had booked all of the hotels through her agent. "This was the first time we had used a travel agent," she says. "In the future, I would take all of their advice, rather than just picking and choosing to save some money."

Troubleshooting. Despite extensive travel planning, you might encounter some bumps on your trip. Having a travel agent handle them for you can make your travel experience a lot less stressful. "In almost any rough situation, you need a travel agent," Meyer says. "I have clients who were going to miss a sports event because their flight got cancelled, but we still got them there." Says Weissman: "If the hotel room doesn't match your expectations and you don't have a travel agent, you're on your own."

Twitter: @danielbortz



More From US News & World Report

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • Tribune Media completes sale of Tribune Tower, other assets
    Tribune Media completes sale of Tribune Tower, other assets Associated Press - 4 minutes 27 seconds ago

    Tribune Media has completed the sale of several real estate assets, including the Tribune Tower in Chicago. The Chicago-based company announced last month that it was selling the 1925 neo-Gothic tower ... … More »

  • Swiss Exchange confident of post-Brexit access to EU stock market
    Swiss Exchange confident of post-Brexit access to EU stock market Reuters - 5 minutes ago

    The SIX Swiss Exchange said on Wednesday it was confident it can continue serving investors in the European Union without having to set up a new exchange after Britain exits the EU. Switzerland is not part of the EU and currently serves customers … More »

  • Tokyo to propose moving more venues for Olympics
    Tokyo to propose moving more venues for Olympics Associated Press - 12 minutes ago

    Tokyo's original plans for a compact Olympics in 2020 continue to fall by the wayside. A Tokyo government panel is set to propose moving more venues outside of the city — including hundreds of kilometers ... … More »

  • SABMiller investors cheer $100 billion-plus AB InBev takeover
    SABMiller investors cheer $100 billion-plus AB InBev takeover Reuters - 18 minutes ago

    LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - SABMiller (SAB.L) shareholders overwhelmingly backed the brewer's $100 billion-plus takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) on Wednesday, clearing the last big hurdle for one of the largest corporate mergers in history. … More »

  • The Latest: Obama says people don't give Clinton credit
    The Latest: Obama says people don't give Clinton credit Associated Press - 21 minutes ago

    The Latest on the U.S. presidential election (all times EDT): 9:20 a.m. President Barack Obama says people don't give Hillary Clinton enough credit — perhaps partially because she's a woman. Obama was ... … More »

  • Lufthansa board approves takeover of Brussels Airlines
    Lufthansa board approves takeover of Brussels Airlines Reuters - 33 minutes ago

    Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) said its supervisory board has approved plans to acquire the remaining 55-percent stake in Brussels Airlines via the exercise of a call option as part of its plan to boost its low-cost unit Eurowings via acquisitions. The … More »

  • ING selling $300 million Kotak Mahindra stake - term sheet
    ING selling $300 million Kotak Mahindra stake - term sheet Reuters - 34 minutes ago

    Dutch financial services company ING Group is selling a $300 million stake in Indian lender Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd in a block trade on Thursday, according to a deal term sheet seen by Reuters. The deal has an upsize option of up to $550 million, … More »

  • Credit Suisse CEO says bank relatively well positioned for Brexit
    Credit Suisse CEO says bank relatively well positioned for Brexit Reuters - 36 minutes ago

    Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said on Wednesday that his bank was relatively well placed to deal with the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union. Credit Suisse's EU investment banking business is run out of … More »

  • Oil climbs on hopes of output-limiting deal in November
    Oil climbs on hopes of output-limiting deal in November Reuters - 43 minutes ago

    Oil prices rose on Wednesday, after sharp losses in the previous session, as the focus shifts to a potential output-curbing deal from OPEC later this year and a surprise drawdown in U.S. crude stocks. Brent crude (LCOc1) was up 59 cents to $46.56 a … More »

  • Tie-up of world's biggest beer makers clears final hurdle Associated Press - 47 minutes ago

    A deal worth over $100 billion to combine the world's two biggest beer companies cleared its last major hurdle Wednesday when the shareholders of SABMiller approved the takeover by Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch ... … More »

  • Pakistan launches $500 million in Islamic bonds AFP - 49 minutes ago

    Pakistan is set to launch $500 million in Islamic bonds to raise money for its foreign exchange reserves, a senior official said Wednesday, as a three-year IMF bailout package nears a close. The government ... … More »

  • Deutsche Bank relief helps European markets regain footing
    Deutsche Bank relief helps European markets regain footing Associated Press - 50 minutes ago

    European stock markets brushed aside a mixed performance in Asia earlier Wednesday to post solid gains amid some relief over the financial future of Germany's largest bank, Deutsche Bank. KEEPING SCORE: ... … More »

  • BlackBerry outsourcing smartphone design in strategic shift; shares up
    BlackBerry outsourcing smartphone design in strategic shift; shares up Reuters - 56 minutes ago

    BlackBerry Ltd will outsource the development and design of its flagship smartphone, an industry it helped pioneer, as it bets its future on software and services, the Canadian technology company said on Wednesday. The new helped send BlackBerry … More »

  • Germany denies preparing Deutsche Bank rescue plan Reuters - 1 hour 15 minutes ago

    The German government denied it was working on a rescue of Deutsche Bank as Germany's biggest lender boosted its balance sheet by selling its British insurance business on Wednesday. Deutsche is facing a $14 billion fine from the U.S. Department of … More »

  • Owner of Malaysia's Proton shortlists 5 bids for equity sale Associated Press - 1 hour 20 minutes ago

    The owner of Malaysian national carmaker Proton says it has shortlisted five foreign partners for a partnership that includes an equity sale aimed at reviving the loss-making company. Syed Faisal Albar ... … More »

  • Saudis soften oil stance on Iran but OPEC deal still elusive Reuters - 1 hour 21 minutes ago

    OPEC might still agree an oil output-limiting deal later this year as the economic problems of its de-facto leader Saudi Arabia force Riyadh to cede more ground to arch-rival Iran. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday Iran, Nigeria … More »

  • Actuant tops 4Q profit forecasts Associated Press - 1 hour 21 minutes ago

    The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based company said it had profit of 29 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 30 cents per share. The results beat Wall Street expectations. ... … More »

  • Deutsche helps lift European stocks before Yellen, Draghi
    Deutsche helps lift European stocks before Yellen, Draghi Reuters - 1 hour 31 minutes ago

    By Nigel Stephenson LONDON (Reuters) - A recovery in Deutsche Bank shares helped push European stocks higher on Wednesday, easing concerns over Germany's financial sector that had hit equities in Asia ... … More »

  • Dissident SABMiller shareholder Aberdeen disappointed with vote Reuters - 1 hour 40 minutes ago

    LONDON (Reuters) - Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN.L), an SABMiller (SAB.L) shareholder that opposed the brewer's takeover by Anheuser Busch InBev (ABI.BR), said it was "obviously disappointed by not ... … More »

  • BlackBerry is giving up on making its own phones
    BlackBerry is giving up on making its own phones Business Insider - 1 hour 52 minutes ago

    Reuters John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry. It’s the … Continued The post BlackBerry is giving up on making its own phones appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • Deutsche gets lift from $1.2 billion sale of Abbey Life to UK's Phoenix Reuters - 1 hour 54 minutes ago

    Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) has sold its British insurance business Abbey Life to Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX.L) as it sheds non-core assets and reduces its balance sheet in an effort to reassure anxious investors and meet regulators' demands. … More »

  • Russian charged for flying drone over Polish PM's office AFP - 1 hour 55 minutes ago

    Polish prosecutors said on Wednesday they had charged a Russian citizen with violating airspace laws for allegedly flying an unauthorised drone over the prime minister's office in Warsaw. Identified only ... … More »

  • Any ECB scheme to buy stocks could total 200 billion euros - ABN AMRO Reuters - 1 hour 56 minutes ago

    The ECB is widely expected to extend its 1.7 trillion euro (£1.47 trillion) asset purchase programme given still low inflation and tepid economic growth, both of which the programme is designed to combat. In a note, ABN AMRO said the structure used … More »

  • Moldova bans Ukraine meat over African swine fever fears Associated Press - 2 hours 1 minute ago

    Moldovan authorities are banning the import of live animals and meat from Ukraine due to fears of African swine fever. Agriculture Minister Eduard Grama says the ban begins Wednesday after several suspected ... … More »

  • European stocks rebound awaiting OPEC decision
    European stocks rebound awaiting OPEC decision AFP News - 2 hours 3 minutes ago

    European stock markets rebounded on Wednesday, brushing aside a broad retreat across Asia, as investors paid close attention to a meeting of OPEC to tackle a global supply glut. Around 1030 GMT, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.7 percent. … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.151+0.010+7.09%
    N21.SI
    0.975+0.010+1.04%
    Y92.SI
    0.144+0.002+1.41%
    5DM.SI
    4.00+0.01+0.25%
    Z74.SI
    0.675+0.050+8.00%
    BMT.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.37+0.12+45.10%
    AZT.SI
    0.24+0.05+26.32%
    AWI.SI
    0.15+0.02+15.38%
    RF7.SI
    0.215+0.026+13.76%
    I07.SI
    0.13+0.01+8.33%
    5UE.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.112-0.028-20.00%
    BEH.SI
    0.66-0.05-7.04%
    BTE.SI
    0.32-0.02-5.88%
    P9D.SI
    0.225-0.010-4.26%
    PA3.SI
    0.23-0.01-4.17%
    K14.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3603+0.0008+0.06%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5250+0.0001+0.01%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7691-0.0011-0.06%
    GBPSGD=X
    73.9180+0.062+0.08%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.6991-0.0032-0.06%
    SGDHKD=X
    3.0418+0.0028+0.09%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,519.8809-8.5723-0.09%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.9050-0.0005-0.01%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0428+0.0006+0.06%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,326.40-4.00-0.30%
    GCZ16.CMX
    19.10-0.06-0.31%
    SIZ16.CMX
    93.45+0.47+0.51%
    ^XAU
    2.19+0.02+0.76%
    HGZ16.CMX
    43.85+0.41+0.94%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.12-0.01
    ^FVX
    1.56-0.03
    ^TNX
    2.29-0.04
    ^TYX