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10 Myths About Travel Agents

1.    Myth: All Travel Agents and Agencies are the Same 
Fact: Every travel agent is different and has a different area that they specialize in. So, depending on what type of trip you are looking to take, one travel agent will suit you better than another. That’s why it is important when planning a trip to search for an agency / travel agent that specializes in where you want to go.

2.    Myth:  No One Uses Travel Agents Anymore
Fact: Travel agents still sell 51 percent of all airline tickets, 87 percent of all cruises, 81 percent of all tours and packages, 45 percent of all car rentals and about 47 percent of all hotels.*  Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz are all travel agencies.

3.    Myth: Travel Agents are Trying to Cheat Me if They Don’t Quote Me the Cheapest Price
Fact: Travel agents know the ins and outs of different itineraries. While you might find a package that is a little bit cheaper, that "cheaper" itinerary might involve a whole slew of headaches.  For example, longer waits at the airport and odd travel times.  A travel agent will be looking to get you the best value for you money spent which should include the most direct and time friendly itinerary they can find.  Unless you have told them you would prefer to have the cheapest possible options presented as well -- expect value to be a factor included in the trip they plan.

4.    Myth:  It is Expensive to Use a Travel Agent
Fact:  The fee a travel agent charges really depends upon the agent. While some of the more luxury agencies have higher fees, the average fee is quite marginal. Some travel agents will even drop the fee or offer a discount once you have finalized your trip with them. Plus, you can always ask an agent upfront what their fees are and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Also, it is important to remember that a lot of online booking sites, such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. charge a booking fee as well.

5.    Myth:  I Can Easily Book the Same Trip on My Own Without Using A Travel Agent. 
Fact:  Although travel agents have access to all of the same outlets you would use when looking to book travel, they also have access to exclusive pricing and package deals that are most times not available to the public. Your travel agent also has more leverage in helping out in situations such as hotels claiming to be booked, when in fact they may still have rooms available that are on hold for travel agents reservations. So when everyone else is telling you “No” your travel agent can help turn that to a “Yes.”

6.    Myth: Travel Agents Don’t Have Information as Updated as the Internet
Fact: Travel agents obtain some of their information from the same sources as online booking sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. They also receive daily updates with new specials and exclusive promotions from resorts and hotels that may not be published on the internet. Travel agents can also communicate with a resort, hotel or cruiseline directly on your behalf to negotiate other kinds of special deals and perks for you -- something an online site can’t do.  

7.    Myth: Travel Agents Are a Waste of Time
Fact: Although you can find much of the same information that the travel agent provides for you on your own, you are going to spend a lot of valuable time doing so.  A travel agent can actually save you from hours of painful research and price comparison shopping.  They have up to date prices, hotel conditions, and interesting new activities. Their prior knowledge and experience gives them the upper hand in trip planning.

8.    Myth: Travel Agents Have Lost Their Clout
Fact: Travel agents book hotels, cruises, and activities every day. The companies that provide these services know that and want their business and will work to keep that business coming back. So while a place might be telling you “Sorry we are booked,” for your one time trip, they are more likely to make an acceptation for the travel agent to ensure that the agent sends them more business in the future. 

9.    Myth:  Good Travel Agents are Hard to Find
Fact:  While there are some below par travel agents out there, sources such as www.asta.org and www.bbb.org are great outlets to go to find reliable specialized travel agents that will match your needs.

10.    Myth:  Travel Agents Can Only Book My Flight and Hotel
Fact:  Travel agents can arrange car service, personalized tours and activities, trip insurance, in addition to all the basic travel services they provide. They are also excellent sources of information concerning good restaurants, good sites to see, and tips on what to pack.

*Source: American Society of Travel Agents