I hear that question often. With the Internet dominating our daily lives, one would think that everything you need to book a vacation is available all in one place. That may be the case for a weekend hotel stay, but when you get beyond the basic airline ticket, car rental or hotel booking, you really need a travel agent.

In a recent article in Travelmarket Report, Jessica Montevago points out six reasons that travel agents are essential to planning a successful vacation.

First, travel agents offer guidance. As Montevago points out, it’s a scary world out there and talking to a professional travel agent will give you unbiased feedback on your vacation objectives. The tips and advice that a travel agent can give you, you just won’t get when you book through a website.

Second, agents can give you more for your money. Travel agent are notified by our suppliers of deals and promotions that the public might not know about. Who doesn’t like to save a little money or receive a free upgrade when one comes available?

Third, agents interpret all of the available travel information to just the information clients want. Next, Montevago points out, travelers are frustrated with online travel agencies. Consumers are wising up. Online travel agencies (OTAs) often advertise one price, and then tack on fees and other hidden charges, or restrictions and blackout dates in the fine print. And there is just too much information out there to sort through. (Google Mexico all-inclusive and you get over 34,000,000 results!)  In addition, Montevago’s article states that of the number of travelers who regularly seek information from an OTA when planning a vacation, only 13% typically book their reservations on OTA sites, down from 36% in 2014. 

Fourth, you can definitely expect better customer service when you use an agent.
OTAs have call centers to assist customers with basic site navigation, but they offer little further support. The article states that travel agents help during the booking process and stay with you to make sure all goes right. And when there is a problem, we are here to intervene—whether it’s a supplier who doesn’t deliver or an emergency that makes them cancel the whole trip. I always act as an advocate for my clients, before during and after the vacation takes place.

Fifth, travel agents create specialized, tailored travel experiences.
Next, many agents specialize in niche markets, so we can offer even more insight into a specific destination or segment of travel. As Montevago says, agents spend the time getting to know our clients, so we can make recommendations tailored to what you want to do. And, I always try to find unique experiences to help my clients have a memorable vacation.

Sixth, travel agents help you make your one vacation perfect.
Lastly, the article mentions that Millennials are relying on travel agents more and more. The author points out that the percentage of travelers under the age of 35 who prefer to book their vacations through a travel agent increased 50% between 2014 and 2015. They don’t have time to wade through all the options, and they understand there is only one chance to make a vacation perfect.

It all adds up. We Americans get precious little vacation time, so you don’t want to waste a minute of it. Just as you hire an expert to do your taxes or paint your house, you should let a knowledgeable professional help you make this most important decision.

To read the entire Travelmarket Report, click here.