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9 Myths About Travel Agents (and Why You Need One)

I get it. When you picture a travel agent, you see a middle-aged lady sitting at a desk wearing a headset. She’s in a small and cramped office with travel posters all over the walls and brochures covering every square inch of table space. She does everything the “old school” way, giving you paper itineraries, paper tickets, and booking you with only large and “traditional” companies. Well…this mental picture you probably have couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most travelers have preconceived notions of travel agents and think they can book travel better themselves, or worse – that we’re no longer needed at all. Here are 9 myths about travel agents, and why you need us more than ever.

Myth #1: We make a salary whether you book with us or not. I’m sorry to say, but the vast majority of travel agents work on commission only. That means that we get paid only when you book travel with us AND go on the trip. For example, if you book a cruise for July 2019, I don’t get paid until roughly two months before that cruise. Also, if I spend ten hours working with you to create a perfect vacation itinerary and you decide to go book it on your own, I get paid nothing for those ten hours of work. Travel agents want to make your vacation dreams come true. However, we’re not just another free search engine.

Myth #2: You’ll pay more to use us. I think this is the biggest reason travelers avoid us because they don’t understand how we get paid. If I book a cruise for you, I get paid a commission – a percentage of what you’re already paying for the cruise, but by the cruise line. You pay exactly the same for the cruise (and possibly more) if you book on your own. It works the same way with hotel rooms. I’m not going to charge you to spend all of ten minutes to book a room at a Disney resort for you because Disney pays me a percentage of what you would pay anyway. The only time I charge my clients a fee on top of what they’re already paying is if I have to spend many hours conducting specialized research and/or creating an itinerary for you. In these cases, you’re paying me to save you a considerable amount of time, which is a pretty valuable service in and of itself.

wheelchair accessible things to do miamiMyth #3: We’re only good for booking huge/long vacations. Do you know how long it takes me to book a hotel room for you? Once I have all your information, less than five minutes. I have friends who text me needing hotel rooms just for work or short weekend getaways because (a) they know I’ll get the best rate for them, and (b) they’re helping my business by allowing me to earn a commission on the booking. Looking for a short 3-night cruise on a budget? I will help you with that, too! Even one night in a bad hotel can be a nightmare, and using us can help prevent that. Yes, smaller bookings equal smaller commissions, but these add up for me and my business.

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Myth #4: We travel for free. God, how I wish this were true. We do get travel agent discounts with several companies, and occasionally get offers to apply for familiarization trips from cruise lines or resorts. However, we still have to pay to get there, and they’re usually extremely competitive with experience requirements. If you’re thinking of becoming a travel agent primarily for free or discounted travel, that’s definitely the wrong reason.

Myth #5: You’re bothering us on off-hours when you’re ready to book. Many travel agents these days work from home, which means we’re never truly off-duty. I’ve made bookings at midnight in my living room and at all hours from hotel rooms around the world while on vacation. Some people won’t call or email a travel agent because they found a hot deal and think if they don’t book it on the spot, they’ll lose it. First, not only can I get you the same deal, but I can tell you if it’s legitimate or if there are hidden costs. Second, if you’re ready to book, unless I’m on a plane or using the bathroom, I will take your call or email and book that deal for you regardless of day or time. If I can’t respond right away, I understand, and it’s your prerogative to do what you need to do. But at least try to reach out to me before you pull the trigger.

Make sure you can plug in your variable-voltage small electronics when you travel abroad! Here’s the international plug adapter I use: icyber Worldwide Travel Adapter

Myth #6: We can’t possibly get you a better deal. We get it. You’re a pro at comparison shopping for travel and know all the best discounted travel booking engines. There’s no way we can offer those “limited time” or “exclusive” rates or sales, right? Wrong. On our booking engines, we see the same rates being offered by discount travel outlets. The difference is that we know intimately all the hidden costs, like taxes, additional fees, required deposits, pre-payment requirements, cancellation policies, etc. We know that some of those companies will cancel or modify your reservation with little or no notice, and they can do that – with few options for recourse. We’re the first ones notified (usually dozens of times per day) of upcoming fare sales and discounts. So, if we know you’re interested in a cruise to Alaska, for example, we can notify you about the sale before it starts so you can book as soon as the window opens to get a better choice of staterooms. There are instances (usually when booking air travel) where you can find a lower price. Just remember – you get what you pay for.

Some flights can be VERY long, and with no way to elevate your feet. Give your legs a break with this inflatable foot rest to help your circulation: STYDDI 2 Pack Inflatable Foot Rest Pillow Cushion

Myth #7: It doesn’t sting when friends/family book without our help. I don’t usually advertise travel stuff on my personal social media pages because I have business sites for that. However, it’s no secret to my friends and family that I’m a travel agent. More often than I’d like, I see some of them posting photos from a cruise or vacation or hotel stay that they booked on their own instead of with me. I’m not going to lie; that hurts. Aside from the frustration that they could have benefitted from my experience and expertise, I worry that they paid too much, or won’t have support if/when something goes wrong. Especially during hurricane season, I wonder if they thought to purchase trip insurance. I’m also sad that they could have helped support a friend or family member’s small business at no additional cost.

Myth #8. We’re a dying breed. It’s true that there are fewer travel agents in business now than there were 20 years ago. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re going the way of the dinosaur. Corporations rely on us for billions of dollars worth of business travel arrangements for their employees and clients. Luxury travelers want us to take care of all the hassles of planning for them so they can just show up and relax. A growing Baby Boomer population knows the value of our expertise, and especially wants guidance if they’re not tech savvy. Even millennials know we’re specializing in different travel niches, from adventure travel to food to yoga. We know how to adapt to the changing industry.

Myth #9: You don’t need us. If anything, travelers need us now more than ever. With so many options for destinations and accommodations and transportation, taking a vacation can be more overwhelming than ever. This is what we do. This is what we know. We are experts not only on the travel industry, but travel itself. If we don’t have the answer, we know exactly where to look to find it because this is what we’re trained to do. Do you know when monsoon season is in Asia, when half of Europe is closed for business during summer holidays, and how to avoid monster mosquito season in Alaska? We do. Do you know which cruise lines are best for wheelchair users or seniors, which ones have the best kids programs, and which ones cater to the party crowd? We do. Don’t waste your valuable time searching for travel options that we probably have at our fingertips – and likely at no additional cost.

Now that you understand what I do, how I do it, and what I can do for you as an accessible travel agent, contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel to book your next wheelchair accessible adventure!

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Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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2 thoughts on “9 Myths About Travel Agents (and Why You Need One)

  1. I wanted to commend you on this article……I am also a travel agent and think you touched on every single myth we encounter daily. Thanks for writing it!

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