Think Before You Click

Despite media hype pitting travel agents against the Internet, we continue to embrace the web as a valuable source of travel information and encourage our clients to take advantage of it. However, we advise consumers to exercise caution before buying travel products online.

Buying travel on the Internet is not for everyone. Consumers have to know what to ask and when to ask it or they could end up wasting hundreds of dollars and countless hours on a trip that fails to meet their expectations.

As part of our continuing mission to provide useful travel information for our clients, we are trying to address many of the common concerns and questions consumers face when considering buying travel online.

Should consumers use the Internet to plan a trip?

Absolutely, but the key word here is “PLAN.” The Internet is a great source of information about destinations, hotels, attractions, local transportation, weather and more. However, the Internet often doesn’t provide the detail and depth travelers need to prepare a complete itinerary. Travelers should always consult a professional travel agency before making any travel purchase.

Do consumers get the lowest airfare from a travel website?

Not always. Most bargains sold on the Internet are usually for limited times and are highly restricted, forcing some travelers to change their itineraries to include layovers and “red-eye” flights. Some sites that allow consumers to perform a search for the lowest price don’t include some discounted airfares. While other Internet sites do offer these tickets, traditional travel agencies offer the same discounts, in addition to valuable customer service and expertise.

Are tour prices cheaper online?

Usually: no. Although many wholesale tour operators maintain websites, they don’t offer discounts there. Your professional travel agent can help consumers choose the tour that’s right for them and in most cases save the client as much money if not more.

Other common consumer concerns about buying travel online include issues of security, cancellations and customer service.  It is particularly important for those planning trips involving groups, young children and the disabled to seek the help of a travel agent. In addition, today’s consumers are increasingly seeking unique, customized trips that often require the assistance of a skilled travel professional.

The bottom line is that smart travelers know their time, money and travel dreams are too important to be left floating in cyberspace. And the customer satisfaction that comes with a travel agent’s hard work, expertise and quality service will never go out of style.