Travel Agent vs Internet: How Do You Book Your Travel?

Some people love shopping. Personally I don’t – I get irritated looking around for hours, at masses of stuff, trying to find that exact thing I’m after. So in many ways I love the internet, I can narrow it down at my fingertips…. So much time saved.

However, when it comes to booking my travel, which lets face it, needs to be exact – the internet can be a minefield.

Travel itineraries can get complex: Will this flight connect with the train I want? Have I got the right hotel, in the right area, at the right price? What about visas? What about financial protection? And it’s the big wide world we are talking about researching and such a bamboozling amount of information online. In fact now that I think of it, I’m not sure I do know exactly what I want – as I’ve not yet been there!

What would be useful is to talk to someone who knows the best tour operators, hotels and airlines for what I need, and can listen to what I want and take the trouble to find the best deal on their time!

When researching holidays, the high street comes into its own; especially those special, unique trips to far flung parts. Good travel agencies offer specialist, first hand knowledge, and especially at independent ones, a huge range of travel suppliers can be compared and impartial recommendations given. An agent will be able to advise you about visa and health requirements for destinations, when are the best times to go, and what the airport security requirements are, or perhaps you need special arrangements such as for a wheelchair. As well-travelled folk, agents will often give you advice about the best areas, restaurants, excursions and can alert you to last minute travel news. And importantly a travel agent will offer financial security. Most high street travel agencies provide and ABTA security. These guarantees provide security for you should the provider of your arrangements fail.

So the internet is a useful tool if you know exactly what you want and if it can provide exactly what you ask it for. But it isn’t great at filtering out the things we don’t want or offering impartiality and practical advice. Online you can’t have a face to face conversation with an expert and it is a nightmare when it comes to knowing exactly what you have booked, and what (if any) financial guarantees are in place. The internet is just too big for the job – how about letting someone else do the hard part for you and get an agent to look after things?

Thomas Cook started the travel agency concept in 1841; 171 years later the High Street travel agent is still thriving. Whilst there’s no doubt that the internet has changed the travel market’s landscape, your local agent will arguably still offer the best service for years to come.

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