Savvy travellers or travelguidecompany, when in need of information relating to specific destinations or activities, seek out travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of those destinations and activities.
It is not always easy choosing a travel agent. Many agents are called specialists, but sometimes the qualification to be a specialist is a simple test run by a tourism office or tour operator. Sometimes, these tests do not require the agent to have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ Some of these tests are too simple and could harm the reputation of the travel industry if allowed to continue unchecked. A ‘specialist’ can mean, ‘I know the brochure product’ or ‘I have seen a training video’ or ‘I have taken a test given by a Tourism Office.’
If you find a specialist, ask about their expertise. Ask them if they or their colleagues have any direct knowledge, experience and expertise of where you want to go and what you want to do, after all, it is your hard-earned money.
Experts are out there. Find them locally or use the internet and then do your bookings with them. You may have to use different experts for different destinations and activities, just as you would select any other professional for accounting, legal, medical or mechanical matters, except in your lifetime you will probably (or hopefully) spend more on travel than all of the others put together.
Reality Check: “I once tried a major chain of travel centres to get 2 tickets to Mexico from Canada. I was only offered 2 airlines. I then used an internet search and came up with 5 airlines and made my bookings online. Perhaps the travel centre did not earn commission or was not able to charge a fee for the booking or did not want an ‘air only’ booking or did they only offer their ‘preferred products’ which limits client choices?”
If you do not need an expert agent you can use the internet to find all kinds of global travel choices and then you can make your booking directly with an online agent or travel operator. If you decide to make your own bookings directly with the travel operator you should not have to pay the full retail price which has a built-in amount for commissions to be paid to sellers of their travel products. Retail agencies that have their own in-house tour products which are sold through other agencies should also be prepared to sell at a net price for a direct booking from a consumer.
It is only fair that agents and agencies earn commissions and fees from travel providers such as hotels, lodges, tours, cruises or mark up their own tour products to allow for a third-party sale. They all have overheads which have to be covered to give local consumers the convenience of local shopping and it is important to support your local businesses as long as they offer excellent pricing and service. At the same time, it is only fair that consumers who make their own bookings directly with travel operators should not have to incur this extra cost. Fair fare prices should be available for consumers who want to handle their own direct bookings.
If you are comfortable with dealing over the internet directly with the travel providers and you want to get fair fare prices you can check out a travel website that was launched in April 2008 that, for members only, offers free travel vouchers that saves them the commission or fee elements in retail travel prices. The site offers thousands of travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries ranging from simple B&B accommodations to complex adventure travel, all at net of commission prices. This travel site is operated by an online travel club that does not sell travel or make reservations and all monies therefore, are handled directly between the members and the travel operators.