Pros and cons of using travel agency instead of direct hotel booking

If you're planning an important trip you could go online and make all the travel arrangements yourself. Then again, you could contact a travel agent.

Here's the low down on the pros and cons of using a travel agency instead of booking all of your hotels and flights by yourself.

The Upside

It's Way Easier

A reputable travel agent with positive online reviews will undoubtedly have a lot of travel industry knowledge and an extensive network of contacts. As such, they're able to find deals and other short-cuts that you're never going to be able to find by phoning around, much less by searching on Google. Find out also if a travel agent is a member of Virtuoso, a consortium of the world's best travel agents that work together to get exclusive deals from airlines, hotels, and other service providers.

Yes, travel agents are motivated by earning commissions, but the added value you get when you place your trust in an agent that is well plugged in to international networks of agencies pays for itself and then some.

Attention to Details

It isn't just the access to better deals that makes working with a travel agent advantageous. It's also attention to the many details that go into planning the perfect trip, and these include meals and fees (you didn't even think about resort and tourism fees, did you?). Many of these extra expenditures, albeit small, can definitely add up and make your vacation go over budget. What's more, they don't tell you about these extra fees in many of the most popular travel books or websites. This is especially true for more exotic international destinations.

Insurance and Other Contingency Plans

A truly professional tourist agent also knows to expect the unexpected and this include problems with the airlines, natural disasters, and more. One of the main advantages that comes with working with a travel agent over trying to book everything yourself is that your agent can put everything in place so that your itinerary doesn't get completely screwed up if there's a botched flight, a flood, or any other unforeseen problems.

The Downside

It May Seem Pricey

It doesn't cost anything to research a trip or book flights and accommodations online. And who knows? You may even be able to find really great deals with nothing more than Google to guide you. With that in mind, having to pay for the services of a travel agent may seem like a waste of money. Nonetheless, when it comes to really important trips -like a honeymoon or a longer trip through a region (Europe, South America, Asia, etc)- then you're going to want to refer to our very first point.

That is to say that you will save yourself money in the long run if you hire a travel agent. So, to make things really easy, the answer is no, you won't need a travel agent to book a cross country flight for the weekend. Still, you should hire one for longer and more important trips.

Buyer Beware

Whether it's a mechanic, a tattoo artist, an interior designer, or any other professional, you always have to be on the lookout for those that are really great at what they do and those that…well…those that really aren't good at all. With travel agents, their reputation usually precedes them, but there are still tell-tale signs that an agent doesn't know what they're doing, and these include agents who don't seem to have lots of options as well as agents who take longer to respond to emails.

A travel agent that's really on the ball will always have a plethora of different travel and accommodation options. They'll also be able to respond to your text message within hours of you sending it.