Despite media hype pitting travel agents against the Internet, travel agents continue to embrace the Web as a valuable source of travel information and encourage their clients to take advantage of it. However, you should always exercise caution before buying travel products online.
Buying travel on the Internet is not for everyone. You have to know what to ask and when to ask it or you could end up wasting hundreds of dollars and countless hours on a trip that fails to meet your expectations. As part of our continuing mission to provide useful travel information for our clients, we want to address many of the common concerns and questions you may face when considering buying travel online:
Should you use the Internet to plan a trip?
Absolutely! But the key word here is “plan”. The Internet is a great source of information about destinations, hotels, attractions, local transportation and weather and more. However, the Internet often doesn’t provide the detail and depth travelers need to prepare a complete itinerary. Travelers should always consult a professional travel agency before making any travel purchase.
Do consumers get the lowest airfare from a travel website?
Not always. Most “bargains” sold on the Internet are usually for limited times and are highly restricted, forcing some travelers to change their itineraries to include a “red-eye” flight or layovers. Some sites that allow consumers to perform a search for the lowest price don’t include discounted consolidator air tickets. While other Internet sites do offer these tickets, traditional travel agencies offer the same discounts, in addition to valuable customer service and expertise.
Are tour prices cheaper online?
Usually, no. Although many wholesale tour operators maintain Web sites, they don’t offer discounts there. Your UNIGLOBE Travel Consultant can help you choose the tour that’s right for you and in most cases save you money.
Is the Internet a good source for hotel discounts?
Although several hotel chains offer discounts on their websites, duplicate promotions are usually available offline. Hotel discounters have sites as well, but the best deals usually come from chain-sponsored promotions and parallel deals offered through your local travel agent. Your experienced UNIGLOBE travel agent can also help clients find hotels at locations most convenient for you.
Other common consumer concerns about buying travel online include issues of security, cancellations and customer service. It is particularly important for those planning trips involving groups, young children and the disabled to seek the help of a travel agent. In addition, today’s consumers are increasingly seeking unique, customized trips that often require the assistance of a skilled travel professional.
The bottom line is that smart travelers know their time, money and travel dreams are too important to be left floating in cyber-space. And the customer satisfaction that comes with a travel agent’s hard work, expertise and quality service will never go out of style.