www.findherdirectory.com.au - FindHer Online Business Directory

Should I use a Travel Agent or book a holiday myself?

Should I use a Travel Agent or book a holiday myself?

The Pros and Cons to Help You Decide

Have you ever wondered if you should use a travel agent to plan your holiday or whether it's better to do it yourself and book online? 

In this post, we'll explore the pros and cons of booking yourself versus using a travel agent to book your holiday and give you some tips on how to decide whether it's the right option for you. 

So read on to find out more! 

The Pros and Cons of Using a Travel Agent

Advantages of booking your own holiday

Are you an independent traveller who likes to plan every aspect of your trip? Do you research destinations and hotels until you have the perfect one picked out, then book everything yourself? There are some pros to this approach – here are just a few. 

First, you know exactly what you're getting yourself into! 

If you are a 'details' person and happy to read the fine print and research extensively, you'll have chosen a destination that matches your interests and budget. Plus, planning your own trip can be enjoyable – from deciding on activities to mapping out the perfect route. This is one of the reasons I became a travel agent 12 years ago! I adored all the nitty-gritty detail, loved the research, and connecting the dots to create the perfect journey to present the big picture to my clients. No one else in my circles had the patience or drive, but I loved it! 

Secondly, if you are very budget-conscious, you might save money by doing it yourself. 

If you spend a lot of time shopping around with your priority being the lowest price, getting a good deal may outweigh the added value an agent's knowledge and expertise provide. It is worth noting here that agents can often get better rates that are not available to you, but you think you are getting a lower price because you can't see those deals online. It can go either way, so it's good to be aware of that!

Thirdly, if you like to keep your itinerary open and flexible, you may just be booking some simple return flights and deciding what to do as you go. 

In this case, you might not require the expertise a travel advisor can bring to your holiday planning, as there isn't much to plan! If your plans change while you're away and you are happy to manage your flight booking by dealing with your airline directly, you probably don't need a travel expert. Even if it's 'just flights', there is still a bit to research and consider. You will be responsible for checking all entry and exit requirements, vaccination or visa information and be sure to secure comprehensive travel insurance.

Disadvantages of booking your own holiday

The first and most significant disadvantage of booking your own holiday is ...

It can be VERY stressful.

Suppose something changes before you depart or while on your trip; you are responsible for organising and adapting your journey to get yourself home. You might think "it won't happen to me!", but I've seen it all as a travel agent! 

Unforeseen things do happen, such as airlines cancelling your flights at the last minute, missed connections, changes to your trip due to illness, a family emergency back home, ash clouds disrupting flights for weeks in Bali, and of course, the most significant example of late, border closures throughout the pandemic. 

If you are good in an emergency, can tackle a challenge when stressed, and are happy to be accountable and responsible for any unforeseen changes, you'll be fine! But if you'd rather have a professional's expertise during a crisis, it is 100% something to consider. "It won't happen to me" is the equivalent of burying your head in the sand and not being prepared for all outcomes.

It can be very time-consuming.

You'll need to research destinations, weather, time zones, currencies, activities, travel insurance, and travel restrictions. Then, find the best flights and hotels for your budget and figure out how to get around. It can all be overwhelming, especially if you're trying to do it independently. 

Travellers can spend months researching and often go 'down the Google rabbit hole'. It's hard to know which websites to trust and which way to book, never mind that most people don't have all the hours to spare to do the required research. 

You don't know what you don't know.

Sure, you can Google the answers to your questions, but sometimes you might not know what question to ask! A travel expert has years, even decades of experience creating incredible holiday experiences for their clients; it's what they know and enjoy. Their personalised recommendations and customised itineraries will match your holiday style and budget to ensure you have the best holiday. 

Think about the expertise you have accrued in your profession over the years. Now imagine you had a new trainee come in, there is only so much you can teach them in a few weeks, and yes, there are some things they can Google or ask around the office, but there are things that only you will know the best way to do it from your learned skills and expertise over time.

Travellers under challenging situations often turn to an expert to help them correct this. For example, realising they've booked the wrong flights or if they have unforeseen issues while away on their trip. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible for a travel agent to change your ticket booking if their agency hasn't booked it. This is because your booking won't be accessible in their systems, and for privacy reasons, the airline or operator will need to deal with the booking owner. That is understandable, of course. You wouldn't want your mate calling in and changing your flight to Timbuktu as a joke, would you? So do think carefully. If you want to have an agent manage any issues later on - they should book it upfront and have access to manage your booking all the way through. 

Advantages of booking with a travel agent

There are many benefits when using a Travel AgentThere are many advantages to using a travel agent when planning your holiday.

Travel agents have access to resources and information you may not have.

Agents can often access wholesale deals, which work out cheaper when booked as a package than if you booked each item individually with different operators. They also have relationships with suppliers they have worked with for years, which can get you better deals and the odd favour for special requests. If anything goes wrong with that operator while you're away, your agent will go in to bat for you and advocate on your behalf. It is often easier to resolve things through contacts they know, and they can use those relationships to your advantage.  

Travel agents can also help take care of the logistics of your trip, taking care of the whole journey as a big-picture

They can plan everything you need and recommend things you might not have considered. This way, you can relax and enjoy your holiday, and in many cases, you will have a better trip because you are taking advantage of their recommendations and expertise.

Not only do they manage the planning and booking process, but they are there to answer any questions you have while on your trip, which saves you a lot of time and stress.

The Federation of Australian Travel Agents has a famous saying, 'without a travel agent, you're on your own,' and this is because a travel agent is with you every step of the way, not just in the planning phase. 

For example, if something changes before you depart, like your flight schedule, they will let you know and they'll also manage any surrounding bookings that are affected, like your connecting flight, transfer, tour or cruise booking. Not only in the pre-travel phase, but while you are on your holiday, they are also on call and available if anything unforeseen arises, like a worldwide event, family emergency back home, or illness. In a crisis, the last thing you want to do is remember which of the 16 different websites or operators you booked each element of your holiday with and wonder how to contact them (after all, you can't call Google!). Alternatively, one phone call or email to your trusted travel agency can provide you with options and rearrange your whole trip to minimise your stress and get you on your way. 

Travel agents are trained experts in a crisis or emergency. Things are constantly changing in our industry. While most travellers will have had to manage a standard flight schedule change or cancelled flight, most haven't had to deal with natural disasters, unforeseen family emergencies or pandemics and a world in chaos. Travel agents have. Especially after the last two years of managing changes, rerouting when restrictions change, and processing cancellations, they are most definitely experts in these situations. 

If you like to support Australian businesses to keep your money in our economy, then I'd also add that this is another advantage of booking with a human travel agent! Almost all online booking agent consolidators are international companies, so your money is immediately sent offshore. And if you need to contact them later, it's nearly always via online means only and can take longer. With Aussie travel agents, not only can you pick up the phone and talk to them if you need to, but the majority of them are women who are small business owners themselves. They've had a tough couple of years after having their trade restricted by government mandates and border closures, and they are excited and keen to get back to doing what they love! There has never been a better time to support locals and choose an Australian business. 

Disadvantages of booking with a travel agent

Earlier, we mentioned that some people really enjoy detailed planning and research! It might be part of the fun of going on holiday for you. And so, if you are this type of person, you may not like handing over control of the bookings to someone else. Perhaps you are a spreadsheet lover with every tiny detail outlined in your itinerary. You enjoy creating your dream trip yourself. In this case, you might consider becoming a travel agent one day! 

The cost. 

Many travel agents (often called Travel Advisors or Travel Consultants) charge a service fee for their time and knowledge. Like other service providers who are experts in their field (for example, your accountant, your Doctor, your financial planner, and even your hairdresser), you pay for their expertise and personalised recommendations. In return, you expect a much better experience than doing something yourself. Two of my favourite examples are that we can cut our own hair, but we rarely do! We can also make our own coffee, but we often pay a barista because it tastes so much better!

The bonus with a travel advisor service fee is that it's not only a planning fee - it also covers them being available to you during the whole journey, including their assistance while you are away. As you can imagine, having an emergency assistance team of experts or being on call for you 24/7 warrants a fee for their time and personalised service, so you might end up paying more than you would if you booked the trip yourself. However, you will have a much smoother holiday and stress-free experience in return. A good travel professional will discuss their service fees upfront and outline what this covers. 

Unfortunately, not all travel agents are created equally!

Like any job in industry, it comes down to the person. 

You will quickly be able to tell if an agent cares about you and takes an interest in what you are after, offering a personalised approach and recommendation to suit all your requirements. Or whether you are being talked into a package or service that doesn't suit you because they are tied into contracts or earn higher commissions this way. While the downsizing of our industry during the pandemic did clear out many of the less service-oriented agents, sadly, this happens across all professional sectors, which is why it is so important to do your research and choose the right travel expert for your trip. 

How do I choose the right travel agent?

Choosing the right Travel Agent for YOU

Suppose you had a significant family or lifestyle decision to make. In that case, it's unlikely you'd walk into a random shop or choose any old company online to hand over thousands of dollars without considering certain factors, right? 

So here are my top tips to help you find a travel agent you can trust.

Firstly, you must decide what trip you are looking for. Are you after a relaxing beach flop and drop or an action-packed adventure? Do you have a destination in mind? Or would you like an expert's opinion to recommend options based on your requirements? Once you've determined what is important to you, search for travel agents who specialise in this type of travel, budget and/or destination. 

Whilst agents are very versatile and have extensive experience booking all kinds of trips, you'll benefit by dealing with an expert in your type of trip or destination. Let's say, for example, you are after a safari holiday in Africa with your family. You'd want someone specialising in safari experiences with excellent destination knowledge of Africa. But also someone with expertise in family holidays so they will consider safety, the kids' interests and the correct type of safari for the ages of your children. 

Another thing to consider is how you'd like to communicate with your agent. For example, if you prefer to meet them in person, searching for a travel agent nearby is essential.

However, if you're happy to communicate via Zoom, phone or email, then why not widen your search and look for an expert anywhere in your State or even across Australia and take advantage of their expertise and knowledge no matter where they live? After all, what are the chances you will walk into the travel agency you happen to be passing and find someone specialising in Africa, safaris and family holiday experiences? Of course, you might be lucky and find someone local, but you're more likely to find more suitable options by searching for travel specialists from anywhere in Australia.

You should also ensure you read reviews from their clients to get an idea of the quality of service you can expect from the agent. By checking the agent's bio, personal travel history and experience in the industry, you can ensure it aligns with your expectations. By backing this up with excellent client testimonials, you'll have a much better idea of who you should choose to become your new trustworthy travel professional.


Travel Agent Finder - helping you enjoy a stress free holiday

In summary

Overall, booking your own holiday can be a lot of work and may not always be the best option for everyone. Using a travel agent is probably your best bet if you're looking for personalised service, recommendations and the best-priced options for the big picture. However, if you're willing to do a lot of research yourself, have good attention to detail and don't mind managing everything yourself (even in a crisis), you may prefer to book your own trip. 

Whichever route you decide to take, I hope this has helped you make the right decision for you. Happy travels!

Anna Shannon

Travel Agent Finder


Please create a guest account or log in to leave a comment:

Share This Page

FindHer Community Article Search