Why many are using travel agents again to book trips

After two years of pandemic uncertainty, Allie Wood can start traversing the travel destinations on her to-do list again. “My retirement dreams were to travel more. And it’s coming true,” she said. That’s why she says she started working with a local travel agency. “I have to be more careful with my spending, and they can absolutely find the best deals for me,” she said. Wood is not alone. Many travelers have recently opted for the personalized service and deals offered by a human travel agent, rather than trying to book their vacations themselves. “It’s amazing how many new customers we’ve had in the last year, over the last six months. It’s been… very, very busy,” Wood’s travel agent Trapper Martin said. . Martin says his business is booming. But the big question is, why now? For years, travel agents have competed with the convenience of computers. When Martin bought his company 12 years ago, “people literally thought I was crazy for getting into travel because of online shopping and Expedia and so on. And then I proved to them that they were all wrong.” Industry experts like Lori Speers, owner and founder of Levarté Travel, have also noticed the trend. Speers has been in the business for 40 years and started his career at Winter Park. She explains that the reason for the increase in business is simple. “What’s really happened in the last two years of the pandemic is that we’ve never needed more because of protocols and procedures just to travel,” she said. Trying to navigate ever-changing rules, pandemic travel closures and cancellations, attracting new customers. Speers says the results have kept them coming back. “I think the message is getting through about travel agents and what we’re really doing again,” she said. So what do travel agents, or advisors as they like to be called, really do? Martin says they do all the work, so you don’t have to. Martin says they get discounts because they have working relationships with companies. They also buy in bulk, from flights to rooms to cruises and even excursions. We’ll be hosting a bunch of group spaces on almost anything that comes out as soon as the schedules are released. And then we can book other people into that group space at a great price,” Martin said. While saving money is a benefit, Martin says you get a lot more than savings when you do Calling in a counselor. At the same time, you’re building a relationship. “Bermuda has always been on my bucket list. The Panama Canal was another one we did a few years ago. And Venice is on my list. A river cruise in Europe is on my list. My travel agent knows all of these things, so he’s constantly on the lookout for great deals that fit my dreams,” Wood said. Speers’ advice is to check out your travel agent like you would a hairdresser or real estate agent, to find the right person for you. Industry experts agree, however, that not all trips require an agent. If you are going on a trip or somewhere you travel often, you can definitely book them yourself. Martin says his new customers seem to be travelers who thought it was more convenient to book everything on their own. But now they think it’s more practical to tell someone what they want and let them handle the details. That’s certainly true for Wood. “It’s so much easier. I don’t have to worry about anything. I just take trips,” Wood said. Another reason why it might be less practical these days to book on your own is the lack of staff. Martin says booking through an online travel agent, a type of one-stop website, has been complicated by another side effect of the pandemic, staff shortages. This means that if you need to speak to a customer service representative about your trip, you could be waiting for hours. “Wait times have been unbelievable as everyone has had staffing issues, including cruise lines…it’s been painful at best during the pandemic,” Martin said. Martin adds that most travel agents don’t charge a fee. They are paid by the companies they work with. For example, cruise line, hotel or resort. If an agent charges a fee, Martin says they’ll tell you up front, and most of the time, it’ll be applied to the cost of your trip at the end.

After two years of pandemic uncertainty, Allie Wood can start traversing the travel destinations on her to-do list again.

“My retirement dreams were to travel more. And it’s coming true,” she said.

That’s why she says she started working with a local travel agent.

“I have to be more careful with my spending, and they can absolutely find the best deals for me,” she said.

Wood is not alone. Many travelers have recently opted for the personalized service and deals offered by a human travel agent, rather than trying to book their vacations themselves.

“It’s amazing how many new clients we’ve had over the past year, over the past six months. It’s been… very, very busy,” Wood’s travel agent said, Trap Martin.

Martin says his business is booming. But the big question is, why now?

For years, travel agents have competed with the convenience of computers.

When Martin bought his company 12 years ago, “people literally thought I was crazy for getting into travel because of online shopping and Expedia and so on. And then I proved to them that they were all wrong.”

Industry experts like Lori Speers, owner and founder of Levarté Travel, have also noticed the trend.

Speers has been in the business for 40 years and started his career at Winter Park.

She says the reason for the surge in business is simple.

“What’s really happened in the last two years of the pandemic is that we’ve never needed more because of protocols and procedures just to travel,” she said.

Trying to navigate ever-changing rules, pandemic travel closures and cancellations, attracting new customers.

Speers says the results kept them coming back.

“I think the message is getting through about travel agents and what we’re really doing again,” she said.

So what do travel agents, or advisors as they like to be called, really do? Martin says they do all the leg work so you don’t have to.

Martin says they get discounts because they have working relationships with companies.

They also buy in bulk, from flights to rooms to cruises and even excursions.

“We’ll be hosting a bunch of group spaces on almost anything that comes out as soon as the times are released. And then we can book other people into that group space at a great price,” Martin said.

While saving money is a benefit, Martin says you get more than just savings when you use an advisor.

He says you benefit from their expertise, not just in terms of where you travel, but also what deals are on offer throughout the year.

At the same time, you are building a relationship.

“Bermuda has always been on my bucket list. The Panama Canal was another one we did a few years ago. And Venice is on my list. A river cruise in Europe is on my list. My travel agent knows all of these things, so he’s constantly on the lookout for great deals that fit my dreams,” Wood said.

Speers’ advice is to check your travel agent like you would a hairdresser or realtor, to find the right person for you.

Industry experts agree, however, that not all trips require an agent.

If you are going on a trip or somewhere you travel often, you can definitely book them yourself.

Martin says his new customers seem to be travelers who once thought it was more convenient to book everything on their own. But now they think it’s more practical to tell someone what they want and let them handle the details. That’s certainly true for Wood.

“It’s so much easier. I don’t have to worry about anything. I just take trips,” Wood said.

Another reason why it might be less practical these days to book on your own is the lack of staff.

Martin says booking through an online travel agency, a kind of one-stop website, was complicated by another side effect of the pandemic, staff shortages.

This means that if you need to speak to a customer service representative about your trip, you could be waiting for hours.

“Wait times have been unbelievable as everyone has had staffing issues, including cruise lines…it’s been painful at best during the pandemic,” Martin said.

Martin adds that most travel agents don’t charge a fee.

They are paid by the companies they work with. For example, cruise line, hotel or resort.

If an agent charges a fee, Martin says they’ll tell you up front, and most of the time it’ll be applied to the cost of your trip at the end.

Lucas E. Kelly