Think Before You Click
Using the Web as a valuable source of travel information is smart. I encourage you to take advantage of the many Internet resources for travel planning. However, I strongly urge you to exercise caution before buying travel products online. Buying travel on the Internet is not for everyone. You do need to know what to ask and when to ask it or you might end up wasting hundreds of dollars and countless hours on a trip that fails to meet your expectations.
As part of our continuing mission to provide useful travel information for our clients, here are some things to think about when considering buying travel online.
Should you use the Internet to plan a trip?
Absolutely! But the key word here is ‘plan’. The Internet is a great source of information about destinations, hotels, attractions, local transportation and weather and more. However, the Internet often doesn’t provide the detail and depth you need to prepare a complete itinerary.
Will you always get the lowest airfare from a travel Web site?
Not always. Most “bargains” sold on the Internet are usually for limited times and are highly restricted, forcing some travelers to change their itineraries to include a “red-eye” flight or layovers. Some sites that allow you to perform a search for the lowest price don’t include discounted consolidator air tickets. While other Internet sites do offer these tickets, traditional travel agencies offer the same discounts, in addition to valuable customer service and expertise.
But, aren’t tour prices cheaper online?
Usually, no. Although many wholesale tour operators maintain Web sites, they don’t offer discounts there. A good travel agent can help you choose the tour that’s right for you and in most cases save you as much money if not more.
Is the Internet a good source for hotel discounts?
Although several hotel chains offer discounts on their Web sites, duplicate promotions are usually available offline. Hotel discounters have sites as well, but the best deals usually come from chain-sponsored promotions and parallel deals offered through your local travel agent. An experienced travel agent can also help clients find hotels at locations most convenient for them.
Now, let’s talk about security, cancellations and customer service issues.
It is particularly important when planning trips involving groups, young children, students, and the disabled to seek the help of a travel agent. In addition, unique, customized trips often require the assistance of a skilled travel professional. If a problem does arise, be it health or weather related or some other situation interrupting your itinerary, a quick call to your agent can often work wonders, saving you angst and worry, long lines at the ticket counter, and so on. Good travel agents are there for you before, during, and after your travel.
When all is said and done, your time, money and travel dreams are too important to be left floating in cyber-space! Travelers should always consult a professional travel agency like before making any travel purchase. The customer satisfaction that comes with a travel agents’ hard work, expertise and quality service will never go out of style.