Why would I use a travel agent when I can book it online?

I guess coming from a background where I was taught that it was considered bragging to “toot your own horn” makes it difficult for me sometimes when asked the question “why would I book it with a travel agent when I can book it online?” But in my day to day activities of being a travel agent I come across many good reasons to do this.

Here is one example why it is a good reason to book with a travel agent. I recently had clients booked to go to Quito, Ecuador with American Airlines from Montreal via Miami and then onto to Quito. Before they left I gave them a call and told them to let me know if they needed anything while en-route or at destination, either by email or phone.

The day of their departure I got an email from my clients who were at the Montreal airport saying that there has been a fire at the Miami airport and that the first flight to Miami was cancelled but theirs was still OK. So I decide I should check this out myself and soon find out that theirs had also been cancelled and it looked like most everything else into Miami had been too. So I email them back as they have not been told this yet by the airline staff and tell them that I was calling AA to find out what was going on with the flights. While on hold I looked up to see what alternative routes were available to get them to Quito, I found a great alternative that was via Atlanta. I emailed them back and told them if they did get to speak to an AA representative that these are the flights they needed to be re-accommodated on. I soon get a call from the client (meanwhile I’m still on hold with AA’s reservations) saying they did find someone and they gave them the alternative flight numbers and they were now rebooked on them. My clients made it to Quito that evening while others waited at the airport only to experience further delays and cancellations.

This is the value in booking with a travel agent, you have someone to call when something goes wrong! The internet does not provide this!

Lesson to myself: There is nothing wrong with tooting your own horn if you have a proven track record.

Some good tips when things go wrong are:

1. Have your agent’s phone number and email address handy.

2. Have your travel insurance number emergency number handy. Most insurance company’s offer travel assistance when things get delayed or cancelled. And if you do incur expenses due to delays or cancellations keep all your receipts.

3. Always ensure the airline agent is aware of your final destination, so they can re-accommodate for any possible misconnects.

4. If there are many people trying to be rebooked by one sole airline agent you could always phone the airlines 1-800 number and get the reservations department to help out with alternative flights.

Remember when booking travel you should look at the overall value of the trip. Having a good travel agent you can contact while travelling when things go wrong can really make or break your overall travel experience.

Denise Gushue -CTC