Do you actually know what a travel agent does?

Ever tried to follow the instructions on how to programme your old video recorder from the manual that came with it? Or any other electronic device for that matter? The instructions are usually as clear as mud because they are written by the guys who designed the device in the first place and who mistakenly assume that we (the users) know more about what they’re talking about simply because they do! As travel agents, we are often guilty of making this quantum leap in assumption as well. Let me explain myself:

Because we know what it is that we do — i.e. the range of services that we provide and the diverse range of travel product that we have expertise in, we mistakenly assume that the average consumer knows this stuff too and are then surprised when it turns out that many of you don’t! Obviously this lack of familiarity can vary considerably from consumer to consumer but it tends to fall within a specific pattern based on whether or not a person has actually utilized the services of a travel agent in the past or in those instances where they have — what the service availed of, actually was. For example, if you have only ever used a travel agent for the purpose of booking your annual package holiday to the Costa del Sol then you could be forgiven for assuming that that was, in the main, what a travel agent does — book package holidays! You might assume that you book cruises with a cruise company and car hire directly with a car hire company in much the same way that you would get your eyes tested with an optician and your bunions seen to by a chiropodist!

The simple fact is that many people seem to have acquired this semi-accurate picture of what travel agents actually do — to both their and obviously the travel agents detriment. So here it is; the well-kept secret that has been zealously guarded from time immemorial by the keepers of the sacred scriptures of traveldom and which will save you and your offspring countless hours of painstaking and frustrating research without any guarantee that you will, at the end of that arduous process, have figured  what is the best, fastest, most direct, reliable, safest (let alone cheapest) option for your forthcoming travels abroad:


That’s rather a grand claim but it’s as succinct a means of explaining what travel agents do as I can think of. If it flies, floats, sails, runs on rails etc., then the chances are that it can be located, evaluated, costed, arranged and sold by a travel agent. Your local Travel Centres travel agent is somewhat similar to your local GP. He (or more commonly she) may also have built up over time, a higher level of expertise within a specific niche market whether that be cruising, golf, groups, adventure travel, spa & wellness, sport and so on. No two will be the same. No two will necessarily possess equal degrees of expertise in every single aspect of travel: that’s why it’s always important to do a little bit of research in selecting the right travel agent in the first place. A simple comparative analogy here would be that of the legal profession. Whilst every solicitor boasts a general competency in respect of conveyancing etc., you might need occasionally to seek out an expert who specialises in litigation or family law, depending on your specific requirements/demands at that time. So too with travel agents. And while I’m at it, let’s also try to dispel the myth once and for all that using a travel agent costs you more. The reality, in almost all cases, is quite the reverse but that exposition is for another day!

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