Most people assume travel agents do little more than charge you money for booking trips, something most people are comfortable doing online. However, they can do a lot more beyond planning your vacations.
Here are a few things that may make an agent worth the additional cost.
>> Help for bumped trips and other snafus: A travel agent may be able to help resolve the snags that can happen on any trip, just by picking up the phone. Rob Karp, chief executive and founder of MilesAhead, a luxury travel concierge service, said experienced agents can assist with rebooking flights in the event of cancellations or lengthy delays.
>> A whole-trip concierge, at your service: Advisers can manage every aspect of your trip, from handpicking guides who match your interests to making restaurant reservations, securing theater tickets and booking skip-the-line entrance tickets to museums.
“Basically, you adviser can be a substitute for a hotel concierge,” Karp said. Some advisers charge a fee for this service that ranges from $50 to a few hundred dollars, depending on the complexity of your requests, but, unlike a hotel concierge, they don’t expect a gratuity for their services.
>> Long-term travel planning: An agent can help prioritize where you should travel and when. Some trips may make more sense at certain times in your life: If you’re keen on gorilla trekking in Rwanda and want your children to go with you, it’s best to wait to until they are 16, the minimum age allowed.
>> When you’re not on vacation: Your agent can come in handy even when you’re not traveling, Karp said. For a loyal client, he or she can make last-minute restaurant reservations, get tickets to sold-out concerts or even book a boardroom for business meetings.
The caveat, however, is that agents expect loyalty in return for exceptional service. “The more you stick with an adviser, the better you’ll be taken care of,” Karp said.