Apart from being more attractive and capable of drinking copious amounts of free booze at an industry event – a skill in itself, travel agents can do a lot of things that a website can’t.
Unfortunately, the age-old (boring) debate between the travel agent and online booking websites still rages on, so it’s helpful to remember just how much better you are as travel agents.
Of course, you already knew this, but perhaps your clients don’t. So the next time they utter the worlds, “I’m just going to book it online,” take a deep breath and hit them with some knowledge.
Here are 7 things travel agents can do that a website can’t.
1. You can babysit reservations
Unlike a website, you can actually hold a reservation into your GDS and babysit that potential booking while your clients get their sh*t together – or manage to get that time off work.
Online booking websites give customers no such option, forcing them to book then and there. Advantage, travel agent.
2. You have access to exclusive rates and fares
Travel agents have access to some pretty awesome industry rates and are privy to a bunch of airfares that just aren’t available online.
3. You have phone numbers to some very important people
Customer stuck in a sticky situation? Or have you accidentally cancelled a reservation and just can’t get that booking class anymore? No sweat – if you’re a travel agent. You have contact details to some of the big wigs of the travel industry – you may even have them on your Facebook – and you’re able to get problems solved, period.
Those big wigs can throw their weight around and help you and your customers get what you/they need. Customers booking online have no such recourse. But of course, as a travel agent you already knew that.
4. You can construct some pretty cool RTW tickets
How hard is it to book a reasonably priced Round the World (RTW) ticket online? It’s pretty hard, even for a seasoned travel agent or traveller alike. But it’s not that difficult at all to do on a GDS.
Constructing a RTW ticket is only a matter of finding the correct booking class and then charging your clients accordingly for your troubles. Take that online travel websites!
5. You can also build awesome open-jaws that aren’t available online
What do you get when you combine a travel agent’s knowledge of an airlines route network and a GDS? A whole lot of exciting open-jaw ticket possibilities, that’s what!
Travel agents can build some pretty cool open-jaw tickets, flying clients into one city and out from another, and do it for a reasonable price. For whatever reason, most online travel booking websites quote ridiculously high prices when you try doing this yourself online, but not so through a travel agent.
6. You can make sense of all that fine-print
“How much does it cost to change my flight?” “Can I reroute?” “Can I cancel my ticket?” If you’re booking online you’ll have to read all that complicated mumbo jumbo on your ticket and make make sense of it all yourself… Good luck!
Travel agents, the intelligent folk that you are, are well versed in decoding all that fine-print down there and making it simple for customers to understand. Winning.
7. You can beat online prices
Travel agents have a little wiggle room on airfare prices. And they can shave off a little commission in order to seal the deal.
Sure, maybe some websites offer this, but customers will need to call up the airline and wait on hold whilst the deal they want potentially sells out (this is when a travel agent’s ability to hold in a reservation really pays off; see #1). But see a travel agent and they can quote you an even better price then and there.
Game. Set. Match.
How else are travel agents better than online booking websites? What have we left out?
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