Many people are facing a whole lot of mess when it comes to closures, cancellations, and overall issues with Covid-19. My team has spent the last six weeks cancelling almost everything we had booked for spring, summer and fall 2020. While it’s sometimes unsettling to cancel travel plans, we also know the value we all offer by being there to navigate the changing rules and regulations for our clients.
Travel Advisors do this all the time, and we do it because we care about what we do. We also know who to talk to about what issue and how to save time and money for everyone involved. I promise you aggregator sites can’t help in the same way, and the general public doesn’t know who to call.
The thing about travel agents is that we work intimately with the industry to make sure your travels are successful. We have agent lines for most airlines we book directly with, those agent lines put us in touch with the most up to date information from each airline. Then we can use that information to make adjustments or cancellations that best suit you. This is also true for hotels, vacation packages, and other details. We exist to bridge the gap and advocate for our clients.
We’re obsessive researchers and news geeks (at least my team is) meaning that we pay attention to changes around the globe and with each company. If we learn an airline goes out of business, we will immediately contact everyone we know traveling with them in the future. If a natural disaster happens, we contact everyone that may be there, or is traveling soon. We do this because our number one priority is keeping clients safe and ensuring we share the best information on a given date.
In these major tragedies, not that anyone has experienced anything quite like this, we know the laws and regulations that ensure a client gets what they deserve. This can mean a credit (many companies are offering 125% of the original booking), full refunds, or some other detail to make the changes smoother. We also have some power with companies, we have the ability to demand certain expectations of service and follow up when things go wrong.
I don’t want to bash all aggregators or “cheap” travel, but you honestly get what you pay for. You may save a few hundred dollars, but when a flight is cancelled, it’s often hard, if not impossible, to get a refund or support. The same goes for overbooked hotels (don’t expect the best room), or bottom-dollar vacation packages (sometimes pictures lie). The goal of advisors (agents) is to do the research and deep dive to make sure you are getting something worth going to.
While Trip Advisor gives people a rough view of a city or experience, it often doesn’t share the depth and importance of what is actually there. I can tell you my favorite restaurants in Europe or Mexico have never been on a “top list” but I promise the experience has always been superior to somewhere that ended up hitting certain algorithms. A good advisor can point you in the right direction for that special experience.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t book things on your own, but rather, you may get further with your adventures with an expert in the field. Think of the time your spouse tried some DIY plumbing without previous experience. Sometimes it works out okay. Many times the experts are needed for help.