Why Use an Travel
Planning a trip today can be
confusing and time consuming. A travel agent not only arranges the
various modes of transportation, but also may be able to save you
money with early booking discounts, special fares, accommodation
details and travel advisories. But, don't just take our word for it.
See what the president of Crystal Cruises has to say about using a travel agent.
Benefits of Using an Travel
» How do you find a good travel
» What should be the determining factor in
choosing a travel agency?
What special services do travel agencies
» How do I know if my travel agent is
How do I know if my travel agent is well
» Who uses travel agents?
Click to find a
travel agent in your local area
Benefits of Using an ASTA
agents are knowledgeable professionals who uphold a strict code of
ethics. The Society provides education, training and resource
materials to its members to equip them with the tools they need to
offer you the highest quality of service. ASTA travel agents keep
up-to-date by attending industry events that offer educational
seminars and networking opportunities.
The ASTA membership includes over 20,000 members
across the United States and around the world. Most ASTA member
agencies offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements. To
find the ASTA member agency near you, search the ASTAnet Travel
ASTA's priority is fighting for your best
interests. We have a long-standing record of fighting for consumer
rights. And, should you ever encounter a problem with an ASTA
member, our Consumer Affairs Department is here to help you. We want
you to have a safe and happy trip. Start by seeing your local ASTA
member travel agency.
- Save Money! – Strong working
relationships with travel suppliers and the latest in computer
reservations technology enable ASTA agents to access the most
up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.
- Traveler Advocates – Your best
interests are the priority. ASTA has a long-standing record of
fighting for consumer rights and ASTA travel agents are required
to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.
- Convenience – The ASTA membership
includes travel agency locations across the country, most of which
offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.
- Service – ASTA travel agents are
knowledgeable and active in the industry. The Society provides
education, training and resource materials to its members to equip
them with the tools to offer the highest quality of service.
do you find a good travel agent?
like you would a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and
relatives who use an agent they trust. Since travel choices are
personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles,
you will want to visit or call several agencies to find the one that
best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of
the office to the agent's willingness to listen and answer
questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term
relationship with a client, not just make one
What should be the determining
factor in choosing a travel agency?
agency should belong to the American Society of Travel Agents, Inc.
(ASTA). With over 20,000 members in 140 countries, ASTA is the
largest and most influential travel trade association in the world.
Membership includes travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads,
cruise lines, tour operators, car rental companies and travel
Through its continuing education and training
programs, ASTA prepares its members to operate high-caliber,
competitive businesses. Members also use the ASTA Travel Agent
Manual, the only comprehensive guide to operating a travel agency.
Due to the Society's on-going educational programs, resource
materials and stringent Code of Ethics, ASTA travel agents are
known as dedicated, hard-working professionals who provide superior
service to their customers.
What special services
do travel agencies offer?
As the industry grows more competitive, travel
agencies increase the quality and type of services they offer.
Agents can arrange all types of domestic and international travel,
from hotel and resort accommodations to air and ground
transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They
can provide assistance with insurance protection, passport and visa
applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel
requirements. Many have toll-free phone numbers and offer meeting
planning and incentive travel services.
Some agents maintain automated individual profiles
that include the client's frequent flyer number, airline seating
preference, smoking or non-smoking designation and other
specifications for a custom-designed trip.
Arrangements can also be tailored to suit
business and vacation objectives, personal interests and budget
concerns. Although most provide a wide range of services, some
agencies may specialize in areas such as family travel, group
travel, adventure travel, ecotourism, the mature market, incentive
travel or travel for the disabled.
How do I know if my travel
agent is consumer-conscious?
Membership in ASTA is a sign of consumer
awareness. The Society works on behalf of its members to support
pro-consumer issues. In addition to lobbying for consumer protection
on issues like airline bankruptcy and travel safety, ASTA has an
active Consumer Affairs Department that monitors travelers' problems
and helps to find solutions. The Society works closely with other
travel organizations to continually upgrade service and technology
to better serve the traveling public.
How do I know if my travel
agent is well trained?
Ask about your agent's professional
background. Many have been trained in business management, travel
and tourism or geography. Others have supplemented their agency
experience with extensive education and training courses. Some
travel agents are Certified Travel Counselors (CTC), having
completed an educational program with the Institute of Certified
Who uses travel agents?
Travel agents are the leading
distributors of travel products and services. Agents book 75% of all
air travel, 30% of all hotel reservations and 95% of all cruise
reservations. Agents are the only unbiased professionals who can
sort through nearly 100,000 daily changes in airfares
Experience, constant industry interaction and
computer reservations systems make travel agents the only source
savvy enough to engineer a relaxing trip out of the fluctuating
complexities of travel offerings. So, save yourself time, money and
frustration. Call an ASTA
Travel Agent - Your Ticket to the World!
More About the Benefits
of Using a Travel Agent
Letter to Travel Editors from Joseph A. Watters,
Dear Travel Editor,
"Why should I use a
travel agent?" As a veteran travel executive, that's a
question I'm often asked. Today, with the overwhelming
number of sources for travel information (the Internet, cable
television, newspapers, magazines, guidebooks, etc.), it's no
wonder the consumer is confused. Yet that's precisely
why the services of a professional travel consultant are more
valuable than ever.
In January, the television news magazine,
20/20, reported the results of a test in which travel
agents beat consumers at uncovering the best airfares.
However, it is much more than the "lowest fare" that provides
the compelling argument for a good travel agent.
The best thing an agent can do is to match
up a traveler with the vacation that's right for them.
The professional travel consultant builds relationships with
their clients to learn their interests and lifestyles, as well
as their dispositions.
Below is a list of some of the important
services, which are either provided free or for a nominal
charge, by travel agents:
The use of outside service providers for many
transactions, such as tax preparation, isn't questioned.
Similarly, if one is going to spend hundreds or thousands of
dollars, as well as a good chunk of valuable leisure time, it
makes great sense to use a professional.
1. Distilling the product
information: Through an on-going and
time-consuming process of familiarization, continuing
education and customer feedback, the agent becomes a travel
2. Investigating and supplying
competitive information: No single supplier is
going to advise a consumer that a better route or a better
fare is available on a competing carrier.
3. Staying abreast of the most current
and timely promotions: Via daily faxes, agent-only
e-mail transmissions, and their relationships with their
district sales managers, agents are obtaining the most
current promotional information.
4. Analyzing the current
promotions: The cheapest is not always the
5. Clarifying the fine print, such as
cancellation penalties and restrictions: Again,
the benefits of a professional's experience can save a
traveler money . . . and headaches.
6. Making recommendations for
travel-related options: Travel agents share the
experience and knowledge they accumulate about a variety of
travel topics – from where to eat, where to shop and what to
7. Simplifying the research and
subsequent transaction: Like a personal shopper,
agents can provide one-stop shopping for travelers who
require air arrangements, rental cars, cruise accommodations
and hotel stays – with suggestions that are in the best
interest of the client, not the supplier.
8. Enhancing the trip with value-added
benefits and amenities: Agents can add to the
client's experience by sending a bottle of wine, providing a
special land package, a specific escort or other customer
9. Using their clout to obtain the best
possible in seemingly impossible situations:
Whether it's airline seats, hotel rooms or cruise space, the
travel agent has more buying power than the
10. Getting problems
resolved: The agent serves as the consumer's
advocate in the event something inadvertently goes wrong.
I hope you'll consider sharing this
information in future consumer interest columns.
JOSEPH A. WATTERS