A travel agent is a very valuable partner to have on your side. Some would say a priceless partner in the era of pandemic travel.
That said, if you are looking for the cheapest price on your next trip, then I do not want to waste your time. This article is not for you. Go to Costco and via con Dios. Just please, do not call me when you have questions, are stranded somewhere, or hit a brick wall. You got what you paid for.
If you are the type of person who values great service, support, and advocacy, then you are the right type of person to partner with a travel advisor. During the worst of Covid, when people were stranded all over the world or left in the lurch with cancellations, travel advisors demonstrated their true value.
Our community went from being travel planners to crisis mangers in a heartbeat. Behind the scenes, colleagues, and even fierce competitors, worked tirelessly together to help each other solve problems for clients. As you will understand in a moment, we did all of this without pay. It is difficult to put a value on something that the public never sees but that network is priceless in a time of need.
Instead of asking, how much does it cost to work with a travel agent, the right question to be asking here is, how valuable is your own time? On any given day, experienced travel agent will already have the answers to the questions you spent hours to find on google. In addition, they most likely have vetted local contacts with insider tips on experiences typical travelers would never know about. Travel agents know how to balance and fine tune itineraries to allow you to enjoy the most immersive time and the least travel time. Travel agents are precise because they are well practiced, planning hundreds of itineraries compared to someone who may plan one or two trips per year. Under normal circumstances, a travel agent can make travel planning easier and enhance your vacation enjoyment.
The travel industry has changed dramatically since Covid. Many airlines, hotels, cruise lines and tour companies have laid off or furloughed thousands of workers. New hires are inexperienced and phone hold times of 3-4 hours to make reservations or straighten out mistakes are currently the norm. As airlines and cruise ships resume operations there are frequent cancellations and schedule changes. Travelers need an experienced professional on their side more than ever to prevent problems and advocate on their behalf.
To add another layer of complexity, many countries and destinations have new Covid health and safety rules that change frequently. Travel agents are well versed and can mean the difference when it comes to arriving prepared and avoiding frustration and financial losses. If there was ever a time to work with a travel agent, the time is now.
A travel agent earns their living by sales commissions paid to them by hotels, tour companies and cruise lines. Airlines do not pay commission and that is why most travel agents that sell airline tickets will charge a small service fee. Cancellations during covid meant travel advisors were not paid any commission for the hours of work they spent planning itineraries or the hours and days it took to cancel those same reservations. In many cases, it took months to obtain refunds or travel credit for their clients. Throughout lockdown, trave agents continued to advocate for their clients, without pay, simply because it was the right thing to do!
Even prior to Covid, experienced travel advisors, charge a service fee before they will do any itinerary work.
Because so many people will contact a travel agent simply looking for free travel advice. The agent will spend time with these prospective clients, sharing expertise and the client will then book travel services directly, which means the travel agent is not paid for their work or time invested. Travel agents simply need to insure they are not wasting time and are being fairly compensated for their work.
While there are still a few agents who will offer free travel quotes, the most confident and experienced travel professionals will charge a service fee. Fees can range from $50-$500 based on their years of experience and destination knowledge. Some luxury agents will charge a percentage in advance of booking private jets and islands. Travel advisors will always inform clients of any service fees in advance. Agents will usually have prospective clients register and pay service fees before any itinerary work is completely.
At Vacationkids, we want to be play fair and our goal is to create trusted partnerships with our families. With any travel inquiry, we schedule a free, 15 min consultation via phone or zoom. During this time, our travel advisors will access if we can bring benefit to your family’s travel planning or not. If we both agree to move forward, we will ask you to register with our agency.
Once fully registered, we will begin working on your next travel adventure. If you complete your trip, we do not charge any additional service fees because we will be paid via commission from your tour company, resort, or cruise line. If for any reason, you choose not to move forward with your travel plans, then we will not receive any commission. In these situations, we will charge a $200 service fee so that we are paid for the time we have invested in you.
Some families travel together in larger groups. Other families may require complicated or very intensive itinerary planning. Negotiating group contracts, building online booking pages for groups or extended trips abroad do require a larger investment of our time. In these situations, we will charge upfront service fees that are based on the specific situation and agreed upon but all parties in advance.
Indeed, our clients certainly do appreciate our value when they compare the itinerary and experiences we create for them verses their own DIY attempts at travel planning. We do our best to create a worry-free vacation experience for your family. That said, Covid is just another reminder that so many things are beyond our control. That is when having a great partner is truly priceless.
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