Booking Travel Online vs Using a Travel Agent

There are many people who choose to book flights and tours through a travel agent. The advantage of using an agent is that you don’t have to think much and you’ll probably have a good time. But when booking travel online you are tailoring your trip exactly to your likes and lifestyle. Travel agents make their best guess at what you will like from a fairly limited collection of offerings whereas booking travel online truly makes the world your oyster. Of course it takes more effort as well!

We prefer to take control of our whole adventure by doing all of the research and planning ourselves – in fact that’s half the fun! We have tried the travel agent approach and discovered that when we suggested a particular hotel or experience that we had found online the agent would say “sorry that’s not something I can book for you”.  It seems that there is no half measure. You either do it yourself or let the travel agent do everything. The truth is that travel agents work with only a small subset of all the accommodation and experience possibilities that exist. To be fair, they are usually good quality but so too are many that are off the travel agent radar or don’t offer a travel agent commission.

Something else to keep in mind is that if you are booking travel online you can change your mind (and your bookings) in a few minutes at any time of the day or night. Conversely, bookings made through an agent can only be changed by the agent and during business hours. To our way of thinking this makes using a travel agent much less convenient!

Consider also emergency changes. We have been on a cruise that had a delayed arrival. We watched hundreds of passengers trying desperately to make phone calls (from sea) to travel agents on a weekend to get flights changed while others just calmly went online and made the change themselves.

To each their own. If you are timid about doing it yourself or if want the travel advice and friendly smile of a travel agent, then go for it. If you want to take complete control and you enjoy researching and planning, then be assured that across 110 cities over countless trips we have never had a problem from a direct booking over the Internet. So go on… you can do it and it’ll be fun!


Photo: The historic city of Valetta, Malta