A great travel agent’s contribution cannot be overstated. You can do the job on your own or with the help of an assistant with extra effort and learning over time. With internet bookings, confirmations, etc for airlines, hotels, cars, etc this is made easier especially in the major business cities of the world. However, increasingly businesses are developing in cities
A great travel agent’s contribution cannot be overstated. You can do the job on your own or with the help of an assistant with extra effort and learning over time. With internet bookings, confirmations, etc for airlines, hotels, cars, etc this is made easier especially in the major business cities of the world. However, increasingly businesses are developing in cities and countries that are far more remote and an agent is especially useful here. The travel agent will probably be happy for you to book the regular and easy requirements which they will see as routine. They can be very helpful when the “going gets tough” so to speak.
A travel agent will get you out of a difficult situation because of the power their agency and reputation bring. If you work for a major corporation, your company will probably be aligned to an agency that has your company’s account so you will most likely not have a choice with regard to this. You need to find out which agent/team member at this company is either your designated “partner” or find one that suits you. Then build a relationship with them. Drop by one day and have coffee with them and introduce yourself. Send them a thank you card or flowers every now and again. Keep them close.
There will be times when this relationship with your travel agent will “save your life” or so it will seem. Picture a scenario. You are overseas and are standing in line to check in to fly home from a foreign country. You have arrived within the one hour advance check in time recommended for business class passengers on this airline. You get to the front of the line to be greeted with “there are no seats left on the flight in any class”. You point out that you have a confirmed ticket so how can that be. Then you are told that all the flights are overbooked and today everyone has showed up! This is when you need to pick up your phone and call the travel agent. As you dial the number you realize it is after hours back home but the travel agent picks up anyway. You explain the situation and your travel agent says to just give them five minutes. You hang up wondering what might they be able to do but you wait (and in your mind, you begin to contingency plan). While you are still standing in front of the check-in attendant talking about possible alternatives, as if by magic, the phone at the desk rings. After the attendant speaks to the person who just called, you are checked in. You will never know how that happened, how a seat just appeared like magic (or who and how someone else got bumped). What you do is make a note to send flowers to the travel agent the following day!!
Situations like this will arise and you will need your travel agent at all hours of the day and night. If they are any good, they will earn every surprise you send them. If they are not very good, you will pay in frustration, lost sleep while you travel and worse. Turning up to hotels with no accommodation confirmed or drivers who do not show because you changed your flight and the travel agent forgot to let the driver know.
If there are a number of agents/team members who work for the travel agency, they will all have specialty areas that they are good at. Some specialize in domestic travel, some in international business travel, others in holiday packages. Build a relationship with the one you get on well with. Also build a relationship with the one you (or your company) deal with who has expertise in the area you are likely to need the most assistance. While your assistant will probably work with the different team members at the agency depending on what trip they are booking, you may need to call the agent directly when you are away. This is when having built a relationship is critical to make a change on a weekend or in the middle of the night when your baggage is lost. Picture the scenario. Your luggage has gone missing, you are in transit and you are leaving again at 8am. You need reassurance that your luggage will follow you to your next destination because the next scheduled flight that is likely to have your luggage on it does not arrive until 10am. Your assistant may be outstanding but they are unlikely to be an expert in all these areas.
A good travel agency will keep on file a list of when your passport expires in sufficient time to get a new one. They will know when your visas are due if you go to the same international destinations regularly. They will know what vaccinations are recommended or required to visit particular countries and much more. If this is not a standard practice, ask them to do it for you. Complete the “Travel File” (click here) and giving them a copy. All the information they require will be on it.
All accredited travel agents are registered with national organisations in most western countries and you can check that they are legitimate by looking up the appropriate website. Take a look at www.afta.com.au