×
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!

Top Reasons to Consider an Independent Travel Agent

By Samantha Scott
August 31, 2017

Trip planning is complicated. There’s no two ways about it. This is why choosing to go with a tour company is one of the best travel options.

Trip planning

They take care of most or in some cases all the logistics like transportation and meals, plan activities for every day, and enrich your experience by making sure your comfortable and happy throughout the trip.

But what about when you want to plan a honeymoon or a large family trip? Or you want more creative control over what you see and do?

Street in Norway in winter

This is where a travel agent can come in.

H2 The Travel Agent Today

Pins in world map

Travel agents have been having their own kind of revolution. In the pre-internet world, planning even a simple trip was typically done through an agent.

They were your personal concierge. A powerful brick and mortar establishment - one of the only ways you could book complicated flight and accommodation arrangements, saving you the hassle of calling the airlines and hotels yourself. They were the professional you trusted to get it all done, saving you time to book the fun stuff.

Young woman on flight

Today, people hate booking flights as much as ever, but with tools like Kayak and Hipmunk it’s become a lot easier to do on your own - rendering the traditional travel agent as the 50+ generation knows them - somewhat floundering.

This is changing...

Compass on world map

Travel agents in the post internet world today have undergone a conscious rebranding effort.

The more correct term now is “Travel Advisor” because they really are much more than flights. They are in charge of your entire experience. Acting as destination specialist, activity planner, main contact and liaison, there to assist in all regards.

Young woman on boat in Thailand

In fact many independent travel agents today blur the lines between travel blogging and travel advising - establishing a brand based on regional speciality, personality, and travel tips.

Do enough travelers know that travel agents still exist?

Happy family taking a selfie in Rome

The problem lies in the age demographics of who is taking the kinds of trips agents can help with.

Families and older travelers are probably used to using an agent - but they also have pretty clear ideas about what they want. This can be a good thing, but perhaps not as exciting for the agent.

Pathway in Kyoto, Japan

Younger solo travelers tend to want to plan everything themselves, and are used to hunting down experiences online; they are also more easy going about accommodations and food.

Today’s millennial travelers value “unique” “authentic” “local” and “off the beaten path” experiences to an almost insufferable degree.

Young group of friends traveling in the mountains

This is what a good Travel Advisor is exceptionally skilled at.

So it follows that millennial travelers really ought to consider using an agent. But the thought of them is so old school (this was how our parents planned travel!) it’s difficult to make the mental leap to how today’s travel agents operate.

River cruise in Europe

Conversely, older travelers who are used to using a travel agent may experience it difficult to find an agent that aligns with what they’re looking for.  

Travel Agent Reviews

Young female traveler taking pictures of mountains

With the overload of information online, how to stand out from the noise remains a problem for many travel agents. Which brings us to the importance of Online Reviews.

It’s no secret that reviews from peers and consumers are key to catapulting any business above the competitors.

But as it stands now, no major sites are dedicated to providing reviews for travel agents.

Passport on a world map

This could very well be tied to the issue detailed above: not enough travelers think first about going through a travel agent. So the need for visibility and marketing comes hand in hand with the need for customer reviews.

Agents are a viable and helpful way to book experiential travel, and the added benefit of reviews will help travelers find the best agent to work with.

Read tour operator reviews.

H2 How Do Travel Agents Differ from Tour Operators?

Two friends in the mountains at sunset

Nothing replaces the value of talking to one person, dedicated to trip planning exclusively for you. This experience has been replicated by certain tour companies that offer personalized and customized trip building - but for the most part you the traveler are still responsible for booking your flights.

Traveler on a cruise in Antarctica

Travel agents today combine the two, making them a powerful travel planning tool for busy professionals, families, and older travelers who are overwhelmed by the online planning landscape.

They offer great flexibility - depending on the destination and what you’re hoping to get out of the trip they can help book you on a group tour, cruise, or private guided trip.

Young female traveler in Europe

Or if you are an independent minded traveler and not sure where to even start planning a trip for you, let alone a group of friends or family, and agent will be the perfect and then a valuable touchpoint through the trip ensuring everything goes smoothly.

Father and young daughter on a beach

Travel agents also often have a strong destination and /or interest focus which can make planning a honeymoon, beach vacation, or history tour a lot easier.

Our Favorite Travel Agents

We asked some independent and small business travel agents what they love them most about being a travel advisor. Here’s what our favorites had to say:

1. Viva la Vida Travel

Viva la Vida logo

Agent Name: Carmen Shaffer

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Latin America (Mexico, Central, South America), Caribbean, the rest of the world. All inclusive resorts and FIT travel / soft adventure/ cultural immersion

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Peru! Peru is an inspiring place to travel to and to plan travel to. I know that clients will be blown away by everything they experience. The sheer excitement of personally knowing a destination and being able to describe the experience the traveler will have but also knowing that their own interpretation of the experience will be unique to them inspires me.  

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - Talking with and meeting with travelers and learning about how they want to travel and what matters to them. Being a travel advisor/ ambassador is all about listening to the client and understanding their needs/ wants /expectations and then being able to provide experiences that meet and exceed their expectations.

2. Travel Wizard

Travel Wizard logo

Agent Name: Bob McMillen

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Africa Safaris, Botswana, India, South Pacific, NZ, Australia, Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands, National Parks in the USA

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Tahiti - Because it’s beautiful, has exceptional accommodations and has a romantic very aura about it. I have done over 1000 Tahiti honeymoons and usually have them as customers from then on.

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - I love to share my knowledge and love for traveling and learning about people and cultures around the world

3. Jordan Executive Travel Agency

Jordan Executive Travel Agent

Agent Name: Margie Jordan

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - UAE, Europe, Caribbean

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - The UAE is my absolute favorite destination to plan. Getting people to go beyond the world largest mall and building is a challenge. But for those willing to look beneath the glitz and glam, the UAE is a cultural experience still waiting to be discovered.

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - It's an amazing thing when clients return home and tell you about this life changing experience they had on the trip you planned. Doesn't get any better.

4. Explorer Travel Services

Explorer travel service logo

Agent Name: Ted Bradpiece

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Europe, Asia, Latin America - Honeymoons, family Travel, LGBT Travel

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - I love planning trips to Israel. The history is so rich, the people are amazing, and it is very different each time a plan a trip, even return trips

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - I love to make people's dreams come true

5. Live Love Laugh Travel

Live Love Laugh logo

Agent Name: Marilyn Valenti-Tampoya

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, South Pacific, Independent travel, group travel, all-inclusive travel, destination weddings, honeymoon travel

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Tahiti is my favorite destination to plan because I know the outcome of my travel clients trip will be an extremely positive one. This destination is extremely beautiful and the locals are very warm and welcoming. The best part of this dream destination is that it is only 8 hours via air out of LAX with a nonstop flight. Most people do not know that paradise can be a hop, skip and a jump away!

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - I love helping travelers create their dream vacation. I know how important vacations are. How important each person should experience a great vacation. So I love to help make that happen for them. The best part of being a travel advisor is when the client returns home from the trip and gives me positive feedback along with an amazing review of my services. That makes me extremely happy!

6. Pearl Travel Inc

Pearl travel agency logo

Agent Name: Barbara Mazzola

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Italy, Cruising, Europe

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Italy, because I have always found it a special place to visit.  After 8 trips there I am willing to search for any special options for my clients in this part of the world.

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - The opportunity to plan a special trip for clients.

7. Wanna Get Away Travel

Wanna get away travel logo

Agent Name: Estelle Wilkinson

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Europe, South Pacific, USA, Mexico, Caribbean, Egypt, UAE

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Europe because I was born there

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - Helping people create lasting memories

8. Journeys Travel

Journeys Travel logo

Agent Name: Jeni Chaffer

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii - Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, Romance Travel

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Anywhere tropical warm and relaxing where two people can get spend time together doing what they love.

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - Developing a relationship with my clients and finding the creating the perfect itinerary for them.  

9. Travel Lee

Travel Lee Logo

Agent Name: Sarah Lee

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Sunshine, beaches, and honeymoons

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - Maldives - it's my favorite place for sunshine. Japan - it's my favorite place for food.

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - Being able to share things that I've found and loved to clients

10. Catherine Whitworth

Catherine Whitworth logo

Agent Name: Catherine Whitworth

What are the countries, destinations, and/or activities you specialize in? - Africa and Southeast Asia

What is your favorite destination to plan and why? - East Africa. The return is so rewarding.

What do you love the most about being a travel advisor? - The satisfaction of giving a clients a window in time of treasured memories and experiences they can never get back.

Travel Agent Resources and Reviews

1. Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau has provided trusted reviews for a wide variety of businesses and industries since their inception. They do tend to lump tour companies in with travel agents, but nevertheless are a useful tool for making sure everything’s on the up-and-up.

2. USTOA

Standing for the United States Tour Operator Association, the tourism industry specific USTOA has been around since 1972. They provide key information on all facets of travel including responsible and ethical tourism. This is a great resource for finding agencies as well as a resource for agents themselves.

3. Travel Leaders

Another great resource for finding agents, as well as for independent agents to make use of. They offer a lot of different tools for figuring out where you want to go and what you want to do, allowing you to quickly find a travel agent that will suit your interests. If you have a specific interest this is a fantastic way to find an agent.

Share and Enjoy
       
132 Views    No comments
Comments

Write New Comment
 

Tours & Operators on Stride Awarded and Featured by: