KarryOn’s readers would be familiar with Webjet’s recent advertising campaign, which mocks its target market for using a Travel Agent rather than ‘doing it themselves’.

Using two twenty-something female actors who profess their love for a faceless website, the marketers try (and fail) to prove that booking online is hip – and smarter.

But’s it’s not – in fact it’s the opposite.

Why? Because, utilising the advantages of a Travel Agent is one of the few things in life that you don’t have to pay for.

Mark Luckey recently wrote an article asking “Why Aren’t Travel Agents Charging Like Lawyers?” and it got me thinking – should we be? He mentions that some firms already do, charging ‘consultation fees’ starting from around $50.

customer

I’m not disagreeing with Mark – I think it’s a fair shout. If you’ve spent decades travelling the globe whether for business or pleasure – always looking at details to add to your repertoire of know-how and knowledge to pass onto customers – why not?

But the industry at large doesn’t operate on this model – and this is why the customer wins – the way it should be. We exist because of our clients, not the other way around. If Travel Agents disappeared like the dinosaurs did, travel will continue. Websites will pick up the slack; airlines will hire more dopey staff to read off scripts… Etc.

It would be terrible for everyone in the industry – customers especially. Because they would be out on their own. Just like a petty criminal that got caught walking out of Woolies with a box of unpaid condoms would be if lawyers didn’t exist to guide them to the best possible result.

So, if you found yourself brought before judge and jury – and given the choice of defending yourself – or access to a trained, experienced professional who was passionate about his or her career – what would you choose?

You may ask how much this lawyer would cost. He came recommended, has a stack of awards on their shelf and trains to get better and better at their job.

But here’s the thing, using this professional is free. It’s not going to cost a cent more – perhaps it would even save you money in the long run.

free agent

Stupid question, right?

Well, I hope you can see the obvious analogy I’ve spelled out. Most Travel Agents don’t (and shouldn’t) charge for their time because we don’t need to. A great TA will get enough bookings to hit their commission targets through repeat business and referrals.

So why would you turn down this service when it’s free?

At the least, if you’ve ‘done it yourself’ and found the best airfare, hotel and tour package – why not pop into your local Travel Agency to put them to the test? If they ask for $50 upfront, by all means walk away and enter your credit card details online.

But if they let you do that without at least trying to win your valuable custom then they’re doing a disservice to the entire industry.

My old man say’s the best things in life are free.

So give your local Travel Agent a go, it could be the best thing you’ve done in a long time.

How much do you think Travel Agents should charge?