The Benefits of Using an Online Travel Agent - Travel - Travel TipsThe Benefits of Using an Online Travel Agent by Jordan Metcalf
in Travel / Travel Tips (submitted 2011-04-03)
Most people who go on vacation like to book trips through a travel agent in order to take some of the stress out of the planning process. Travel agents can also help you save money on flight, hotel rooms, cruises, and more; but what about online travel agencies? While people worry that Internet travel companies could scam you or provide low-quality service, there are actually a number of benefits to choosing an online travel company, providing that you pick the right one.
First and foremost, with an online travel agency, you can work with the place that has the lowest prices without geography limits. In other words, you have more options! When you opt to choose a travel agency in an offline setting, you are limited to the handful of companies that operate in your neighborhood, or at least within a reasonable distance. People who live in major cities might especially be affected by the high prices of brick and mortar travel agencies. Online, there are not proximity limits. The travel agency with which you work might actually have headquarters thousands of miles away, but if they have the lowest prices, you can still work with them over the Internet.
The increased number of choices does not just help you save money. It also means that you have limitless possibilities when it comes to travel. The travel companies in your areas probably can book dozens or even hundreds of different trips, but there will be limitations. Even if an offline travel agent can plan a vacation to an obscure destination for you, it is not likely that he or she will be an expert in travel to this location. Online, you can find a family or an individual who has been there and will plan an amazing vacation for you. There are few places in the world where you can't travel if you work with an online travel agency.
Another great aspect of working with an online travel agency is that you can shop for your vacation package any time of the day or night. Brick and mortar business usually close soon after the end of the regular business day, and many are not open for long hours on the weekend. The Internet is open 24 hours a day. While you may not always be able to call a customer service representative, especially if you like to do vacation planning at three in the morning, you can always check out packages offer on travel websites. This is especially handy for parents who need to plan after the kids are in bed, people who work odd hours, and those living in rural locations where the nearest travel agency office is a fairly far drive.
One of the often-overlooked benefits of an online travel agency is the control you have to make your own choices without outside influences or pressure. When you visit an office, many travel agents have the same tone as used car salesmen. You have to remember that these people are often working under some kind of commission program. Instead of making an hourly wage, they earn a percentage of your total vacation price, and even if they do have a salaried job, they may get incentives from travel companies (hotels, cruise lines, etc) for selling amount every month. Many travel agents get to go on free trips for every ten or twenty vacation packages they sell. So, you might feel pressured to book a trip when you are not done exploring your options or upgrade certain aspects, even though you do not have the money. Online travel agencies typically take a more hands-off approach. That does not mean that they won't help you, of course. Most are more than willing to answer questions via email or over the phone. However, when it comes to working with an online travel agency, you do not have someone looming over your shoulder, trying to make a sale as you check out your vacation options.
Also, when you work with an online travel agency, you usually have more payment choices. Today, some offline travel agencies offer payment plans, credit card payments, and so forth, but this is not always the case. When you work online to plan you vacation, however, you can always find a type payment that will work for you. Some even have payment programs that allow you to earn points for every dollar you spend, which can go towards gift certificates or future trips.
Be aware that there are still scammers posing as online travel agencies and other travel sites, and you always need to read the fine print of any website where you make a purchase. However, online travel agencies are often a less expensive, easier, and more convenient way to book a vacation.