Online booking engines have made our lives so easy. We can plan our trip and make our bookings with the tip of our fingers, even as we lie on our bed at any time of the day. A lot of us have switched to these online channels rather than going through traditional travel agencies. And most of the time, these online sites run super saver deals that will definitely make you book your trip with them. However, during and post-pandemic, we should consider going back to the traditional travel agencies when planning our next trip.
Knowledge of the Destination
When travel agencies promote a certain destination that means they have all the information specially the ever-changing rules brought about by the pandemic. They’d brief you about all the things you need to know before flying to your destination. And this is what any online site would not be able to provide you. They might put all the information on the site, somewhere you might or might not see.
A few months ago, a regular guest of ours made a booking via an online site because that’s their usual way of making the booking with us. On the day of their departure from their country, they were denied to check-in at the airport because they didn’t have PCR test results with them. They didn’t know that they had to. They probably thought that travel is the same as pre-pandemic and they might have missed the information on the websites.
Another case is of a client who booked online at a very cheap rate but didn’t notice that it was a non-refundable booking. When traveling to the Maldives, tourists need to present a negative PCR test (taken within 72hours) on arrival. This person, unfortunately, tested positive and he of course could not travel and he could not get his money back. Whereas if he booked via a travel agent who charged him a bit more but offered a more cancellation policy, he could have refunded the money or at least change the booking for a later date.
We all want a hassle-free holiday. Because who does not want? Some people prefer to plan their own holiday but believe me, honeymooners, families and those with a bit of money just want to pay someone who can arrange everything for them. From flights to hotels to special arrangements like dinners, excursions, etc., Agents dedicate their time to personalize your trips and make your holiday a memorable one.
I almost lost my patience with one client who was bargaining with me about the room rate. He told me that one booking site is offering a lower rate than what I offered. I politely told him that I cannot give him further discount however, I would be happy to get his booking either directly or via the website at a cheaper rate. He then sent me an email saying, the customer service of that website ‘was close to none.’
I almost fell down laughing on my chair and if he was smart enough, he would have understood already why that site was offering cheap deals. I really wanted to reply to him something along the lines of ~ ‘well, that’s the price you have to pay for choosing cheaper options.’ We all want to make savings I totally understand that and there’s really nothing wrong to compare prices and get the best deals. But personally, I’d rather pay a bit higher, if it’s reasonable. Like I don’t bargain for just $10 less and face a lot of inconveniences. I mean, seriously?
Support Your Local Agents
During the pandemic, a lot of people in the hospitality and tourism industry lost their jobs. But now that the world is slowly opening up, we can help the industry recuperate by booking through our local agents.
I don’t have anything against online booking sites and if you feel more comfortable and if it is more convenient, why not? If it is for staycations or one-night business stay within the city or nothing big, then online booking is really suitable to use. However, at this time, especially for long-haul trips and international holidays, it is highly recommended to have an agent to talk to. We are not in the ‘usual’ times.
Some of you also would trust bigger and popular booking sites because you know they are legit. However, in order to know if your travel agent is real, you can always send an email to the hotel and ask them if the agent can be trusted. We receive a lot of emails like that because the clients wouldn’t want to be scammed.
I also choose travel agencies because not all agents fulfill my needs as a traveler. Why would I pay someone who cannot answer my questions faster than I could get the answer online? A lot of people book through the same agency over and over again if they are fast and reliable.
So go ahead and choose your own reliable agent and always, support local business if you can.
All images are via unsplash, edited on canva