Has the travellers’ love affair with the Internet finally peaked? Has it eventually dawned on consumers that all the best deals aren’t necessarily found online? Judging by a growing number of articles that have begun to appear in various mainstream publications both in Ireland and abroad over the course of the past 12 months, the answer would appear to be a resounding yes! And we’re not talking about small, regional titles here. August publications such as Time Magazine, Forbes, The Irish Independent and the New York Times amongst others have all carried major articles recently regarding the resurgence in popularity of travel agents amongst those in the know! Is it any wonder though when you consider some of the following facts:
1. The overwhelming choice that consumers find themselves faced with when they research online. How do you know that what you’ve selected from the few pages (out of millions) that are returned in a typical search, represent the best/most appropriate of what’s actually out there?
2. Popular sites such as Trip Advisor have had their reputations severely compromised because of growing evidence to the effect that not all of the reviews are from genuine travellers but rather have been posted by hotel or restaurant owners trying to bump up their own reputations or — worse still — trying to destroy their competitions’!
3. The Internet is great for sourcing point-to-point fares such as are featured on low cost carrier websites like Ryanair or Easyjet. The medium is not so great though when it comes to researching compound or complex fares for multi-city destinations.
4. Conducting your travel arrangements online usually necessitates you having to trawl through multiple websites as you separately research information on prices, availability and other details for disparate components such as flights, transfers, accommodation, car-hire, attractions, travel insurance, passports, visas and inoculations requirements whereas one call to your local Travel Centres travel agent can kill all those proverbial birds with the one stone.
4. When things go wrong (as they sometimes do!) who are you going to call, if you’ve made all those travel arrangements through a website? With an agent, you get an advocate who is happy to look after your best interests before, during and even after you’ve travelled!
5. Booking your round trip flights to Alicante or a weekend break to Prague do not make you a travel agent any more than being able to cook a good lasagne means you could open your own restaurant! Travel agents are professional and experts in what they do and can often help travellers by suggesting options and finding solutions that they would never have though of themselves.