Why Use a Travel Agent in the Digital Age? I Can Think of a Few Good Reasons

 A travel agent may be able to get you here cheaper than you could on your own (Image:  Pixabay )

A travel agent may be able to get you here cheaper than you could on your own (Image: Pixabay)

With the Internets invading every aspect of our lives these days and an ever-growing repertoire of handy-dandy apps and services like Airbnb and Turo showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon, travelers the world over may find themselves wondering from time to time: "What's the point of hiring a travel agent in 2018?" This is a fair question, and, depending upon the depth of your patience for planning and logistics, the answer could be that there isn't much point at all in seeking out one of these trip planning gurus.

Some of us have less patience, however. Some of us are trying to plan family vacations for 10-plus people and staring down the barrel of a gun loaded with logistical nightmares. Some of us are tasked with planning a honeymoon or luxury trip and running into prices that seem outrageous and so we sit and scratch our heads and wonder if there isn't someone out there who could find a better deal, someone who knows what in tarnation they're getting into. And in these instances — and others — turning to a travel agent surely isn't the worst idea.

Believe it or not, a recent report released by the American Society of Travel Advisors revealed that millennials (the generation other generations love to hate) are "leading the way in both travel agent usage and likelihood to recommend their agents to friends and family." One reason — and a cynical one at that — that this may be the case is because we millennials are just "too lazy" to put time and effort into trip planning; we'd rather just have someone else take care of the details. While that could be part of the reason we're leading the way, another reason is probably just because we're smart (yeah, I said it, wanna fight about it?).

Sometimes it just makes sense to use an agent. The logical question following that statement would be: when is "sometimes"? Sometimes comes along when planning a trip yourself becomes more of a headache than its worth; when you'd rather know if that tour versus this tour is a waste of time; when you arrive at your Caribbean destination in September without realizing hurricane season would be in full force; when you'd rather spend the days leading up to your vacation waiting with eager anticipation instead of pulling your hair out trying to get every last detail perfect.

"Travel agents can reduce the amount of time spent planning a vacation," Angie's List says. "They handle every aspect of planning, allowing you to relax before your vacation even starts." The site goes on: "If you find yourself in a sticky situation, a travel agent works with you to fix the problem, whether it's clearing up hotel reservations or booking a different flight. In the event of an emergency, travel agents provide assistance (because) even the best-planned trips have the potential for trouble.

 (Image:  Pixabay )

(Image: Pixabay)

"Travel agents know people in important positions in the hospitality industry. They build relationships with service industry leaders around the world. You may reap some of the benefits of those relationships."

Cheryl Rosen, in an article published on Travel Market Report in October of last year, said everyone should be using a travel agent in 2018. Rosen lists several reasons why you'd be better off with an agent at your side: they can help you find last-minute accommodations when an unforeseen natural disaster or some other emergency gets in the way of your plans; they can understand better than a search engine what kind of vacation you're after; they have first-hand knowledge of many destinations and know what things are like on the ground — and the list goes on.

Other than saving you time and a couple more grey hairs, travel agents can oftentimes save you money, too, especially if you're trying to plan a group vacation. As Huffington Post contributor Carly Ledbetter wrote in her Jan. 2015 post entitled "6 Essential Reasons To Book A Trip With A Travel Agent," agents are especially great at finding group discounts.

"If you’re going to Disney World, taking a corporate trip or planning a romantic vacation, it’s best to let travel agents do the work for you," Ledbetter said. "They’ll research the best deals for 2+ people, find coupons for going out to eat and try their best to upgrade your suite or hotel room to make it the best experience possible."

Of course — and here's the disclaimer on all of this — if you'd rather take things into your own hands, be more spontaneous with your trip planning or just kind of generally go with the flow after arriving at your destination, you're probably better off taking care of the travel logistics yourself. And some people, such as those looking to backpack through Europe and stick to a minimal budget, for example, are perfectly fine doing just that. There's nothing wrong with that, either, just so long as you know that looking into a travel agent is a viable, practical, and sometimes useful option when planning for travel in this digital age of ours.

-LTH