Booking your trip online? You might want to think about that…..

E-commerce has made tremendous strides in the past decade and travel is no exception. A much higher percentage of travel sales today are booked online, either with the airline, hotel or cruise line directly, or through an online travel agency (OTA), or any travel agent’s website with a booking engine.

So why do travel agents still exist?

Because not all travel arrangements can, or should, be booked online –and because the average consumer has no way of knowing if they are getting the best price when booking online. A recent study showed that on average 80% of the time a travel agent was able to get the customer a better price than the customer could themselves.  And the travel agent spent the time, not the customer.

So what is most frequently booked online?

  • Simple, point to point flights
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Some package holidays

The general rule of thumb is, the simpler the transaction, the more likely people will just book it online themselves.  But even in these cases, an agent is often able to get a better price.

As a trip gets more complicated, or the person isn’t familiar with the region, or it is a group traveling, most people want to talk to somebody who can guide them through the process and give them advice.

However, and this is a big however, there is a very good argument for always using a travel agent, because they can save you time and money.  The average consumer has no idea whether they are getting the best price or a reliable product when they book online.  And jumping from site to site can be very time consuming.

Travel agents have comparison pricing at their fingertips for most travel transactions.  They have experience, access to expert information, and – a big PLUS —are there for you after you book should anything go wrong or you need to change your plans — before, during or after your trip

It really comes down to the consumer’s knowledge of what they are buying.  To book a flight to New York, or to Florida, for example, no problem, go ahead and book online.  Same goes for a car rental, or a hotel that you like. Beyond that, you will want to consider involving a professional travel agent, who can shop around for you, give you advice and be there afterwards and, most importantly, it will not cost you more and it saves you time.  So why do it yourself?


About The Author

Flemming Friisdahl
Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door

Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door Flemming is an experienced travel executive who has dedicated nearly 30 years to serving the Canadian travel agent community. He is a firm believer in the importance of travel professionals and the positive impact they make on consumers. Flemming has held senior executive roles in sales and marketing at some of Canada’s leading travel companies during his many years in the industry. He has an extensive network of contacts within the industry in North America and beyond. As the founder of The Travel Agent Next Door, he has focused on catering to home-based travel agents and smaller travel agencies in Canada, delivering unique marketing programs that are designed to maximize profitability. He has most recently added at program for new agents to enter the travel industry.

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