Does Booking with a Travel Agent Cost More?

The cost of using a travel agency is usually minimal and they usually don't charge you anything. Much of their income comes from commissions paid to them by hotels and wholesalers. Before deciding to book with a travel agency, check if they charge rates or not. Booking flights with a travel agency is more expensive than booking with a travel fare app or website.

This is because travel agencies charge more for their services than travel fare aggregator websites. Do your search online & and also check if the travel agency has an equal or lower cost. Here in the U. S., I usually find more bargains at discount stores such as Priceline, Hotwire, Skyauction, by calling hotels directly, etc. Although travel consultant fees account for the majority of travel agency revenues for 99.9% of advisors, this source of income does not compensate advisors for the additional support they offer travelers in the planning, booking and travel process, the time they invest in searching for suppliers and qualifying suppliers to choose the right cruise, the hours you spend on the phone requesting letters of credit and cancellations, and the additional support you offer to customers when problems arise during your trip. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

You pay your doctor tons of money because they are trusted professionals who attended school for a long time to gain the skills needed to (hopefully) successfully diagnose your symptoms and guide you toward recovery. While fees are great (and they're probably the bread and butter of a travel agency's revenue), it can be difficult to earn sustainable revenues from commissions alone. It's the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, the travel industry does not usually compensate travel agencies for the added value they offer beyond booking logistics (except perhaps for corporate trips, where paying a service fee is part of the course). Charging a service fee, among the travel agents we surveyed, was the exception, not the rule.

This only scratches the surface and, of course, we'll look at other reasons for charging fees. But if you make any type of reservations (or components) without commissions or with low commissions, I highly recommend that you charge a fee. In most states with regulations on travel sellers (in fact, many Florida or California agents reported charging fees in our survey), you need an SOT license. According to travel attorney Mark Pestonk, the question is whether an IC, which would otherwise be entitled to an exemption under a travel law vendor, will lose its exempt status simply by charging customers a fee. As an independently contracted agent, you have the option of charging fees or not.

Even if a host agency doesn't have the capacity to process service fees, there are still ways to collect them. If charging a fee is important to you, this could be an important factor for you when choosing (or even changing) your host agency. If you charge for travel under flight conditions (not just service fees or consultation fees), the ARC program is probably the best option for you, since processing systems that are not specific to travel, such as Pay Pal, Square and Quickbooks (listed below) may not process transactions when selling trips (in the world of code processing, travel is a high-risk product). If you don't have access to the GDS (what the hell is the GDS?), your host can pay service fees through your system. Each host agency will have a different process for this, so you'll want to check with them. Generally, your current commission divided with your host will also apply to service fees.

The time I tried to go to a travel agency, I researched and set the price of a trip and then I went to the travel agency and asked them for the price of a trip that was basically the same or very similar. So before you start searching for flights or contacting your local travel agency, be sure to check the flight and booking schedules. If you are going to travel to a specialized place, such as going on that once-in-a-lifetime African safari, look for a specialist who knows that region inside and out. This process may not work if you operate or sell to a customer who resides in a state with travel seller requirements AND if you use your host's SOT number. The majority of their net profits come from the hotels, wholesalers, resorts and companies they work with, but be sure to ask your travel agent about rates in advance and before you start working with them to plan your next vacation. I think I pay much less to research and book myself but I also spend a lot of time doing so and I've been pretty good at finding bargains.

Instead of increasing expenses, travel agents save you money thanks to their professional discounts and connections with privileged information. However, booking through a travel agency may be your best option if you need help choosing a flight or hotel. Sure some agencies charge a fee for drawing up an itinerary but most will credit you for that fee if you end up booking your trip through them. The Boston Globe, Consumer Reports, Wall Street Journal and Barron's have recently published articles on how important it is to use advisors. The cost of booking flights with an agent often varies depending on what services you need. A travel agent can also recommend local attractions and restaurants so that it's easier for you when getting around your destination.

Linda Jones is a professional consultant in this field; she's written books like Travel Agent Secrets and The Ultimate Travel Planner + Journal; she's also founded Crafted Travel Company. Determining your itinerary can be stressful and challenging especially if you're not familiar with your destination. But before starting your search online or contacting any local agencies make sure that you check flight schedules first. If it's something special like an African safari then look for someone who knows that region well. This may not work if you operate or sell something in states with seller requirements AND if you use your host's SOT number. But overall it's worth it because it saves money due to discounts and connections that agents have access too.

Sebastián Vanbebber
Sebastián Vanbebber

Hardcore coffee enthusiast. General internet maven. Extreme travel evangelist. Avid twitter expert. Subtly charming beer advocate. Extreme food fan.