It’s go time again! The holidays are nearly here and we’ll soon be shipping up-and-out to gather with family and friends.
But have you in years’ past been stranded at airports, gotten a lemon for a rental car, incurred fees that could sustain a small nation and just had a PANIC BUTTON moment, but no one to call?
Mark Murphy, author, unscripted globe-trotter and travel expert, thinks you should consider working with a travel agent this holiday season to get the most of your vacation dollars, especially during a time of increased fares and fees as well as travel warnings and airline fees being bumped by more than 50%.
WHY HIRE A TRAVEL AGENT?: You might find a bargain price online, but a good agent will know the “hidden” costs like resort fees, fitness center charges, and the other miscellaneous charges that can really add up beyond the “low price guarantee” you see with the online discount brokers.
YOUR PANIC BUTTON: Take a look at what happened to thousands of stranded travelers during the volcanic ash eruption this past Spring. If you were among those who booked their flights online, there was no 800 number to call to plan an alternate itinerary. A good agent knows the various options for connections to neighboring cities/airports and can quickly book an alternate route to get you home, now!
UPGRADES, COCKTAILS AND DEALS APLENTY: Because agents deal with large volumes, suppliers have an interest in making sure the agent’s customers gets the best value and experience their money can buy. This translates into more opportunities for upgrades, better amenities, food and beverage credits, and more. Agents can potentially set you up with hotels that pick up bag fees and may even suggest carriers that count two ski equipment bags as one — saving you upwards of $60 one way.
END FRONT DESK DISPUTES: If you have a problem with your accommodations (not close enough to the pool, perhaps?), you don’t need to get involved in a dispute with the property management – your agent will handle it, even if it means moving you to another space, so you can relax and focus on your stay.
HEY, THIS MAY BE THE BIGGEST TICKET PURCHASE OF THE YEAR!: Travel is often the single-most expensive purchase made in a year, aside from a home purchase or automobile. Just as you would see the advice of tax experts and legal experts for those high-stakes events, it’s in your best interest to work with a professional travel expert who can ensure you get the most out of your investment.
FINDING A GREAT AGENT: Mark recommends TravelTribe.com, ASTA and Tripology.com.
QUESTIONS TO ASK: Don’t be shy! Ask whether they are certified or specialize in the property or destination. Whether they’ve personally been to the location and a list of referrals.
SO HOW MUCH TO WORK WITH AN AGENT?: In general, agents do not charge for their services because they are being paid commissions by their suppliers. Those commission fees are accounted for in the price, and because the industry follows a “parity pricing” model, everyone essentially pays the same price whether they book through an agent or on their own.
Entrepreneur, author, speaker, and online media impresario, Mark Murphy is a 20-year travel industry veteran recognized by his peers as an innovator at the cutting edge of online publishing, social media, advertising and brand marketing. His understanding of both the travel industry and the rapidly changing media landscape, combined with his desire to continuously offer unique and customer-driven solutions, has positioned him as a pioneer in the business.
Mark has served as Publisher of Travel Agent magazine, and now writes regular columns and produces video segments for the industry leading publications he founded including Vacation Agent magazine, Agent@Home Magazine, and TravelPulse, the world’s leading online news source for the travel trade. Murphy has hiked, sailed, climbed, kayaked, Segued and rickshawed his way through more than 50 countries around the world, and brings his extraordinary first-hand experiences to the travel veteran and amateur alike. He reports on exotic, off-the-beaten-path locations, travel deals, breaking news related to the industry, and is a passionate advocate on behalf of the agent profession regarding the advantages of working with a travel professional.
Born in Chicago and raised in Central Jersey, Murphy is a graduate of Lehigh University where he was best known for his wicked slam dunk. When he’s not 32,000 feet in the air, he enjoys his time on the ground writing about his favorite destinations which he’ll soon publish in an autobiography about his experiences in the travel business. He resides in Moorestown, N.J., with his wife, two children and a dog named Beau.