Why many are once again using travel agents to book trips

After two years of pandemic uncertainty, Allie Wood can get back to crossing travel destinations off her bucket list. “My retirement dreams were to do more traveling. And that is now coming to pass,” she said. That’s why she says she started working with a local travel agent. “I have to be more mindful of my expenses, and they absolutely can find the best deals for me,” she said. Wood isn’t alone. Many travelers have recently opted for the one-on-one service and deals provided by a human travel agent, rather than trying to book their vacations themselves. “It’s been amazing how many new clients we’ve had in the last year, in the last six months. It’s been … very, very busy,” said Wood’s travel agent, Trapper Martin.Martin says his business di lui is booming . But the big question is, why now? For years, travel agents have competed with the convenience of computers. When Martin bought his business di lui 12 years ago, “people literally thought that I was nuts getting in the travel business because of online shopping and Expedia and whatnot. And then, I proved them all wrong.” Industry experts like Lori Speers, owner and founder of Levarté Travel, have noticed the trend too. Speers has been in the business for 40 years, beginning her career di lei in Winter Park. “What really happened during the last couple of years in the pandemic, is we’ve never been needed more because of protocols and the procedures just to travel,” she said. Trying to navigate the constantly changing rules, closures and cancellations of pandemic travel, drawing in new customers. Speers says the results kept them coming back. “I think that the message is getting out there about travel agents and what we really do again,” she said. do? Martin says they do all the leg work, so you don’t have to. Martin says they get discounts because they have working relationships with companies. They also buy in bulk, everything from flights, to rooms, to cruises and even excursions. ” We’ll hold a bunch of group space on almost everything that comes out as soon as the schedules are released. And then we can book other people into that group space at a pricing advantage, “Martin said. While saving money is a perk, Martin says you get much more than savings when you use an advisor. He says you’re benefitting from their expertise, not only about the places you’re traveling but the deals being offered throughout the year. the same time, you’re building a relationship. “Bermuda has always been on my bucket list. Panama Canal was another one that we did a couple of years ago. And Venice is on my list. A river cruise in Europe is on my list. My travel agent knows all of those things, so he is constantly looking for good deals that will fit into my dreams, “Wood said. Speers’ advice is to vet your travel agent just as you would vet a hairstylist or real estate agent, in order to find the right person for you. Industry experts agree though, not every trip requires an agent.If you’re going on a road trip or a place you travel often, you can certainly book those on your own.Martin says his new customers seem to be travelers who once thought it was more convenient to book everything on their own. But now they think it’s more convenient to tell someone what they want and let them deal with the details. That’s certainly true for Wood. “It’s just so much easier. I don’t have to worry about anything. I just go on the trips” Wood said. Another reason it could be less convenient these days to book on your own is staffing shortages.Martin says booking through an online travel agent, a one-stop-shop kind of website, has been complicated by yet another pandemic side effect, staffing shortages.Meaning if you need to speak to a customer service rep about your trip, you could be waiting on hold for hours . “The hold times have been unbelievable because everyone has had problems with staffing, including the cruise lines … it’s been painful at best during the pandemic,” Martin said. Martin adds most travel agents don’t charge a fee. They get paid from the companies they work with. For example, the cruise line, hotel or resort. If an agent does charge a fee, Martin says they will tell you upfront, and most times, it gets applied to the cost of your trip in the end.

After two years of pandemic uncertainty, Allie Wood can get back to crossing travel destinations off her bucket list.

“My retirement dreams were to do more traveling. And that is now coming to pass,” she said.

That’s why she says she started working with a local travel agent.

“I have to be more mindful of my expenses, and they absolutely can find the best deals for me,” she said.

Wood isn’t alone. Many travelers have recently opted for the one-on-one service and deals provided by a human travel agent, rather than trying to book their vacations themselves.

“It’s been amazing how many new clients we’ve had in the last year, in the last six months. It’s been … very, very busy,” said Wood’s travel agent, Trapper Martin.

Martin says his business is booming. But the big question is, why now?

For years, travel agents have competed with the convenience of computers.

When Martin bought his business 12 years ago, “people literally thought that I was nuts getting in the travel business because of online shopping and Expedia and whatnot. And then, I proved them all wrong.”

Industry experts like Lori Speers, owner and founder of Levarté Travel, have noticed the trend too.

Speers has been in the business for 40 years, beginning her career in Winter Park.

She says the reason for the uptick in business is simple.

“What really happened during the last couple of years in the pandemic, is we’ve never been needed more because of protocols and the procedures just to travel,” she said.

Trying to navigate the constantly changing rules, closures and cancellations of pandemic travel, drawing in new customers.

Speers says the results kept them coming back.

“I think that the message is getting out there about travel agents and what we really do again,” she said.

So what do travel agents, or advisors, as they like to be called, really do? Martin says they do all the leg work, so you don’t have to.

Martin says they get discounts because they have working relationships with companies.

They also buy in bulk, everything from flights, to rooms, to cruises and even excursions.

“We’ll hold a bunch of group space on almost everything that comes out as soon as the schedules are released. And then we can book other people into that group space at a pricing advantage,” Martin said.

While saving money is a perk, Martin says you get much more than savings when you use an advisor.

He says you’re benefitting from their expertise, not only about the places you’re traveling but the deals being offered throughout the year.

At the same time, you’re building a relationship.

“Bermuda has always been on my bucket list. Panama Canal was another one that we did a couple of years ago. And Venice is on my list. A river cruise in Europe is on my list. My travel agent knows all of those things, so he is constantly looking for good deals that will fit into my dreams, “Wood said.

Speers’ advice is to vet your travel agent just as you would vet a hairstylist or real estate agent, in order to find the right person for you.

Industry experts agree though, not every trip requires an agent.

If you’re going on a road trip or a place you travel often, you can certainly book those on your own.

Martin says his new customers seem to be travelers who once thought it was more convenient to book everything on their own. But now they think it’s more convenient to tell someone what they want and let them deal with the details. That’s certainly true for Wood.

“It’s just so much easier. I don’t have to worry about anything. I just go on the trips” Wood said.

Another reason it could be less convenient these days to book on your own is staffing shortages.

Martin says booking through an online travel agent, a one-stop-shop kind of website, has been complicated by yet another pandemic side effect, staffing shortages.

Meaning if you need to speak to a customer service rep about your trip, you could be waiting on hold for hours.

“The hold times have been unbelievable because everyone has had problems with staffing, including the cruise lines … it’s been painful at best during the pandemic,” Martin said.

Martin adds most travel agents don’t charge a fee.

They get paid from the companies they work with. For example, the cruise line, hotel or resort.

If an agent does charge a fee, Martin says they will tell you upfront, and most times, it gets applied to the cost of your trip in the end.

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