How you book your travel arrangements is often going to depend on the type of traveler you are. While some are well-suited to the services of online travel agents (OTAs) can offer, others prefer the more direct services provided by traditional travel agents.
For example, those who are simply looking to book a holiday as cheaply and quickly as possible, without any special requirements, are often going to find offline travel agents offer a little more than they need in terms of service and the price charged.
Alternatively, luxury and corporate travelers are often going to be looking for something a little more specific, which lends itself to the services that are offered by specialized travel agents. Which category you fall into really depends on what you aim to get from your travel experience, so here are a few advantages of both so you can get an idea where you fit.
The existence of a niche market for specialized travel is ensuring that traditional travel agents still have a market, though many often alter their services to accommodate for luxury or corporate travel. This has led to the increasing appearance of corporate and luxury travel agencies, which are dedicated to creating the experience their clients expect, based on the budget they are provided.
This saves a lot of time and hassle for people who simply can’t afford to spend all of their time shopping around online looking for better deals. A complete package offered by a corporate travel agent is usually going to include everything that the client needs and can be adjusted to include specialized services.
Technology for travel agents has also improved over the years, in much the same way as it has for people looking to make the arrangements themselves. This means that many are now more able to work with clients in order to better arrange their accommodation, travel activities and budgets. This is something that an increasing number of corporate travelers are beginning to find exceptional useful, especially those that own small businesses and can’t afford the time to place too much of their focus elsewhere.
Specialized travel agents also have access to a skillset that you simply aren’t going to find online. This goes right down to being able to arrange for custom tours or making use of the airline ticketing tricks they have picked up as part of the trade to your benefit. This means they are able to offer a far less restricted service than OTAs, particularly when it comes to multi-stop international trips. Again, the fact that they have this skillset means that corporate travelers don’t have to figure it all out for themselves.
Corporate travel is not without its problems either. A delayed flight could lead to issues with business meetings and the like after all. If that flight has been booked using an OTA, there is often very little recourse so travelers may find themselves languishing in an airport, desperately searching for a flight that gets them where they need to go. Luxury and corporate travel agents instantly remove this stress by acting as the traveler’s problem solvers in these instances. Instead of spending ages browsing on a phone, a simple call puts the problem in somebody else’s hands, and it is their aim to resolve that issue as quickly as possible.
Online Travel Agents
All of that isn’t to say that OTAs don’t have their benefits at all. More frugal travelers will be much more likely to use them simply because they get to cut out the middleman, thus ensuring they get flights and hotel rooms at a lower rate. It takes a lot more work on the traveler’s part, but it can result in less being spent on the trip itself. The benefit of this is really going to be weighed by how much time you spend looking for a good deal compared to how much time a traditional travel agency would have cost you. More time looking means more time away from the business, in the case of corporate travelers. However, if you get it right it can be a big money-saver.
OTAs also offer the opportunity for you to make quick comparisons between a number of different airlines and accommodation providers. Where a corporate travel agent may have a couple of trusted providers, those who are looking to have the biggest option pool possible may prefer to simply pick from everything available, rather than getting a package that is guaranteed to offer quality. Of course, this presents its own risks as online comparisons are not always accurate, but if it pays off, travelers can find that they end up getting excellent offers that they may never have heard of through a travel agent.
It is also important to remember that packages are not exactly non-existent with OTAs. While they will not be as tailored as those offered by specialized travel agencies, such packages do exist and can cater for a number of your needs. Though they rarely cover everything, they can be used to create a foundation for the rest of the trip, with other requirements being added based on what you find online.
So which one should you choose? It’s an important question and again comes down to what you are looking for. If you are aiming to spend as little as possible and approach your travel with a DIY-attitude that you can justify due to the use of your time not having an adverse effect elsewhere, an OTA is probably the way to go.
However, corporate travelers often do not have the time to do this, whereas luxury travelers are less concerned about the money being spent when compared to the personal service that they miss out on when using an OTA. If that sounds like you, it is likely that a traditional travel agent is more up your alley. While the service will often be a touch more expensive, it offers you the ability to tailor your trip to your needs, while also taking all of the burdens of making arrangements off the traveler.