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Secrets of a Travel Agent

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I have been a travel agent for five years now and I am surprised at how many people do not know what we do and how we can be so very useful in helping you with any form of travel planning. 

Most travel agents, like me, got into this business because we love travel.  The best way to put a smile on our face is to talk travel with us.  We love talking about travel.  We love to hear where you’ve been and where you want to go.  We love to offer suggestions and ideas to make your travel more enjoyable.  We love to find the perfect deal for you.  We love to make our clients happy.  Happy clients refer their family and friends.  That gives us even more people to talk travel with.  It’s just that easy.  There are no hidden motives.  Of course, we also love to make money doing travel.  There is a saying about if you work at what you love then it’s not really work at all.  Those are words to live by.

Recently I have been working with a groom who is to be married in the Caribbean later this year.  He has a large group traveling to attend his wedding.  Even though he let his guests know that I could help them with their reservations; I only made reservations for a small portion of his guest list.  This gave me the idea for this post.

Travel agents work entirely on commission from hotels, resorts, rental cars, travel insurance, cruises, excursions, etc.  We do not get paid by you to do the research.  I have worked tirelessly to find the perfect vacation component for the best value for my clients so they will have no worries before, during or after their vacation.  Many people will contact me for vacation planning but then will turn around and book it themselves with an online travel agency such as Expedia or Travelocity.  Why would they do that?  Do you think that the travel agent is dishonest or cheating them in any way?  Why would you prefer to give the commission of your vacation to a large company instead of a small business owner?  These companies are getting the very same commission that I did the work for.  I think these “Fat Cats” are fat enough, don’t you?  Let’s hear it for the small business owner/operator.

A travel agent has all kinds of access to dozens and dozens of travel component suppliers.  With all of these suppliers, we also have access to dozens and dozens of promotions and deals and specials.  These are not advertised on the internet for the general public.  Do you think that you are getting the best deal with an OTA?  How many different sites did you actually go to when researching your travel plans?  Did you spend hours and hours going from one site to the other to ensure that you were getting the best pricing?  Or did you just look at the one and figure that was the best price?

Travel agents deal with travel suppliers that will price match with the Online Travel Agencies (OTA) to get your business.  These online companies get enough business.  I want some of that business and I will work to get it.  I have a previous post about price matching but it’s simple.  We can match the OTA’s pricing with one of our favorite suppliers. In turn, this will give you a small deposit or the ability to make multiple payments along the way and/or a person to contact with any questions or concerns instead of a phone number.  Here is a secret; when a travel agent price matches a vacation, our commission gets lowered.  Do we dislike that fact?  You bet we do.  Do we still do it?  You bet we do.  We do it for your business so we can continue to work doing what we love.

Do OTA’s always have the best deals?  Heck no.  Let me repeat, HECK NO!  Most times, I can match or beat their pricing.  I’m willing to do the work so I can get the full commission instead of a partial commission from price matching.  The hotel or resort or rental car agency is going to pay a commission to somebody.  I want that somebody to be me.  I want that commission and I’ll go on the hunt to earn it.  It’s what I do.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of travel agents and what a valuable service we can provide.  I welcome your questions or comments.

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