You’ve decided to go travelling. Now you need to get things planned – get a ticket etc. What’s best; to book everything with a travel agent – or do it all yourself online?
My guess is that you assume buying through a travel agent is MUCH more expensive than doing everything yourself. You may be right – or you may not. The point is a totally different one if you ask me!
Putting together a trip is pretty much like fixing a toilet. You CAN do it yourself – or you can pay someone to fix it for you. Imagine this:
The broken toilet example
You’re toilet is broken. You spend an evening or two googling what the issue might be. Perhaps you watch a few YouTube videos. You call a friend who knows a little bit about toilets. Perhaps you read a blog post or two. That gives you some idea about what might be wrong. Then you spend most of Saturday visiting a few hardware stores to get the tools you need to fix what you think is wrong. You go home and do what the YouTube video tells you to – only to discover that at least one of the tools can’t really be used. You know that the store won’t take it back because you’ve used it. It takes most of the weekend (perhaps other half is complaining by now…) – but by Sunday the toilet is fixed! Everyone is happy. Until Monday morning when it’s broken again….. Who do you call? YouTube? Hardware Store?…..
Do you LIKE to be the handy man
This is of course totally exaggerated. You might be a handy man and you might be able to fix the toilet in no time. Maybe you even enjoy figuring out what’s wrong and get a bit of a kick when YOU fixed it – and it stays fixed! That’s cool – and then of course the right thing for you to do is fix your toilet yourself! (Can you come and fix mine, please? :-))
It’s the same thing with travels, really. If you enjoy the research, if you are prepared to take the risk that something might go wrong and you have nobody to help you out or if you’re willing to work with a time margin that leaves room for unexpected situations then doing everything yourself – booking everything online – is probably the right thing for you to do.
Or would you rather be doing something else?
If you don’t like fixing the toilet yourself, if you’re not a handyman, if you’d rather be reading to your children or taking your other half out for dinner, if you want to be able to call someone and ask them to fix whatever issue occurred while you enjoy the pool and another drink – then call a professional plumber/travel agent. Yes, it costs money. But you get an expert, free time and help if needed.
Yes – I am biased. Or am I?
And in case you’re wondering; yes – I DO work at a travel agency. Having said that; I book some trips through work – and some online at home in the evenings. For me it depends on what kind of trip lies ahead of me/us. Simple stuff like a long weekend in New York City or an uncomplicated trip to Italy with 2 hotels and a car I book online. 3 weeks in a place we know well I book online. I know what I want and what to look for. But if we’ve saved for ages to go on a 3 week trip in a (for us) un-know region or if we want to be absolutely sure we get the best possible trip I book with a travel agent. They are so much quicker at finding what I am after and I save so much time and energy. If we are going on a “packed” and adventurous trip with lots of activities, moving hotels and different kinds of transport I prefer a travel agent. If our flight is delayed I only need to make one call and THEY sort everything out while I get over my jetlag. It’s a simple cost effective analysis – it’s a matter of calculating the value of time.