One of the most misunderstood professions in the world, most people have no idea what a travel agent does or what they can expect from a great one. With this in mind, here are five things you can expect when you book with a travel agent affiliated with the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata).
- A great travel agent will make you feel at ease
Are you afraid that when you walk into a travel agency, you’ll feel pressurised into making a decision on the spot? Great travel consultants are not pushy and know it’s not just about making a sale. They want happy clients who will come back time and time again.
They will ask you about your preferences and make recommendations based on what you want. Don’t ever hesitate to voice your concerns or let a travel agent know his or her recommendations are not exactly matching your requirements.
- You’ll get the best deals, promise!
Did you know that travel consultants have rates that are not necessarily available online or anywhere else for that matter? Consultants are privy to special supplier rates such as flight and hotel prices that you will never find online. And, should you find a cheaper rate online, let your travel consultant know. They will probably be able to match the price or worst case scenario, be in a position to let you know that you are likely falling for a scam.
You might have found the “best” all-time low fare for your flight, but a travel consultant will be able to point out if it will be impossible to make the connecting flight you’ve already booked. They’ll know which airports have longer security lines than others and will be able to advise you properly.
- Did you read the fine print? No worries, your travel agent has!
Who has the time to read all the fine print? Most of us rarely bother reading any of the fine print terms and conditions of our travel documents until it’s too late.
But what baffles and perplexes most of us in the fine print and details on travel documents is common knowledge for any decent travel consultant. They’ll be able to enlighten you in a few seconds thanks to their years of experience.
- A great travel consultant has ‘contacts’ and inside information
A great travel consultant has invested money in being able to “gallivant” around the world to make sure they get the right industry contacts in the right destinations. They’ll be able to pick up the phone and ask their contact in France to make that impossible-to-get restaurant reservation come true for you.
Also, in times of emergency, a travel consultant’s contacts have proven to be priceless. A travel consultant will be able to direct you to places of safety in a matter of minutes, thanks to local contacts and insider information.
- A great travel agent has seen it all and will tell you all about it!
Travel agents are limitless sources of information you can tap into just by booking through them. They’ll be able to advise you where you’re likely to run into huge crowds, where you should go to get the best exchange rate and even what to wear when travelling to more conservative countries.
It’s their job to know about visas, health requirements and etiquette. They’ll hound you for the middle name of your mother-in-law, because they know (and have experienced) that some airlines will not allow you to travel if the middle name is spelt incorrectly.
Remember, not all travel consultants are created equal. Make sure you travel with peace of mind, and choose an Asata-accredited travel agent.