In the age where everything is so easy to do online, is there still a benefit to using a travel agent to book your travel? Actually, yes.
I heard a story on a shiur this week by Rabbi Duvi BenSoussan (the story starts at 31:45 if you want to hear the entire thing). There was a boy, who had come a long way in his life, battling and rising above a lot until he finally had the opportunity to go learn for a year in Eretz Yisrael.
Even after he arrived at the airport, he still met with resistance.
“Oh no,” said the lady at the check-in counter. “If you’re traveling for this duration of time, you’re going to need a student visa to board the plane. You’re going to have to go visit the Israeli Embassy in Manhattan to get one before you can fly.”
Oh no. After all he’s been through, working odd jobs to save up money for his yeshiva tuition, he can’t even board his flight!
Luckily, the ticket had been booked through a travel agency. Within two minutes, he was on the phone with someone at the travel agency. With the press of a few keys, the travel agent was able to change the return date so he could be classified as a regular tourist. Five minutes after his initial check-in, he was able to return to the check-in counter, check-in without a problem this time, and proceed to security. Disaster averted. If he had booked his ticket another way, he wouldn’t have been able to get on that flight.
With so many ways to book a flight nowadays, lots of us wonder, “What are the benefits of using a travel agency?” I also wondered, so I asked some frequent travelers and learned a few things.
1. Most Flights Have a Standard Price. Unless you’re flying from a no-frills airline, most flights that you’ll find online will be the same price that the travel agency will offer. So, if you’re not tech-savvy or are simply busy and don’t have time to search and search for flights, the travel agency will do it for you–and you don’t have to pay anything extra (the commission is paid by the airline). The price of a flight is the price, no matter who you book with. Plus, you’ll get the service and support as an added bonus, especially helpful when flying internationally.
2. Travel can get complicated. Maybe a trip to Florida isn’t complicated, but multi-leg trips, especially if you’re visiting a foreign country, isn’t as simple. Travel agents are familiar with the regular flight and arrival times from one country to the next and know how to advise their customers on where and when to travel so they don’t need to figure it out on their own (and it doesn’t cost extra so why not?).
3. Problems popped up? A travel agent can fix them. We don’t plan to have issues come up while we’re traveling (in an ideal world). But often, a flight will get canceled, or there’s a delay, and a traveler can spend a whole day on the phone with an airline to get their travel issues resolved. Like in the story above, when a traveler uses a travel agent, flights can be changed and new plans made with one quick phone call and the click of a few keys. Travel agencies also have an “in” with the airlines. They can view which seats are available on which flights throughout the day, so you can quickly see what your best options are, even options that aren’t available to the general public.
Say you’re stuck in a snowstorm. Your current airline might not have a seat available for you on the next available flight. But your travel agent can see exactly which seats are available on which airline in the next 24 hours and cancel and rebook the ticket for you. If you’ve ever had trouble getting through to your airline after a canceled flight, you know exactly what I mean!
No matter what happens while you’re traveling, when you use an agent, you have someone taking care of you that knows the industry and all the people in the industry.
4. Travel agents have exclusive rates. Travel agents often have exclusive access to certain tickets during popular travel times. When the tickets are all sold out or very high priced, travel agencies may have them available at a lower rate (about 25% less than the current going rate, on average). For example, Do-All Travel usually has these tickets for Sukkos in Israel, Pesach in Israel, Lag B’Omer in Israel, Pesach in Florida, and Uman for Rosh Hashanah.
5. Need to travel at the last minute? Often, business travelers need to pick up and go quickly. While on a multi-city trip (especially when it’s international), they don’t have time to stop in the middle of the day and search for flights. Travel agents take care of all the arrangements so it’s off the head of the business traveler who is running from one city to the next.
6. Travel agents offer travel insurance. This inexpensive perk (usually just $30 or $40) can save a lot of headache. If you need to cancel, or have lost or damaged baggage, or suffer from any injury while abroad, travel insurance can protect you financially.
7. Get hotels and cars too. If you’re flying internationally especially, and are unfamiliar with the different neighborhoods in the city of your destination, a travel agent will be familiar with the local hotels that suit your family’s needs and your budget. You don’t need to do exhaustive research when there’s someone that has all the info at his fingertips, ready to advise you.
Going somewhere? Have the convenience of searching for flights on your own and have the benefit of a travel agency to assist and protect you by using the Do-All Travel Engine. Click here to search for flights now.