If you are still using tour operators and agents for your annual vacation then it is time to stop and think about whether or not this is giving you the best value. Unless you are booking a vacation to some far flung place with tight restrictions, or if you are using a tour agent who have partnerships with hotel providers, the truth is that you have just as much access to flights, accommodation and events as they do. There are so many reasons why you are better off booking your vacation in individual segments and doing so online, and here are just a few of them.
The first point to mention is the cost difference between booking yourself and booking through a travel agent. Remember that travel agents are a business, they need to make money somewhere, and that somewhere will be a slight premium on using their services. My Dad recently booked a trip from Newcastle in the UK to New York complete with hotel in Long Island, the cost came to £1450. When I searched for the same trip online, with flights and hotels separate, the cost was closer to £1050. This may not always be the case but it 90% of the time you’ll save money through booking online.
Travel agents love to tell you that they will get the best rates from the hotel but very often you’ll find that the cheapest rooms can be found through speaking with them directly or through finding a third party company online. Hotels in the UK for example offer some great discounted rooms which you can find online, discounts which the travel agents just don’t have. If you are planning a vacation then try it out for yourself, go to the travel agent and see what prices they give you, then try to beat it on your own, you’ll be very surprised at the results.
When it comes to taking a tour abroad it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the travel agents have access to the best tours, this isn’t always the case. In fact in many cases you’ll find outstanding tour companies recommended by fellow travelers, who the travel agents haven’t even heard of. Again this comes down to make money and travel agents will partner with tour companies so that they both win, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best one.
An attractive prospect of using a travel agent is that they make your life easier, they can package up a deal for you which will see you pay once and off you go. This may be true but in reality booking vacations online is not difficult at all, it may take an hour at most to research where you want to go and find the best hotels and flights for you. Travel agents used to make things easier, but the world has changed and this is no longer true.
For your next vacation, look to do a little more on your own.