I have been planning holidays for people for over a decade. I absolutely love my job and I’m passionate about what I do. I’m so crazy about travel that last month I started my own business as a Mobile Travel Agent. It was a leap of faith and so far it is proving to be a great decision.
When I tell people what I do, I get a variety of responses…
“Cool. Bet you get lots of free trips.”
“Travel agents are rip-offs.”
“How do you compete with the internet?”
“People don’t need agents these days.”
“A travel agent? What do you actually do?”
Gone are the days of handing a client a travel brochure, picking a hotel from a map and booking it. Gone are the days of airlines charging three times the going rate for an airfare if a customer went to them directly. Gone are the days of paying a deposit on an airfare and then paying the rest of it six weeks before you leave. Now the travel industry is dynamic, instant and transparent. Today a successful travel agent cannot afford to be like Carol from Little Britain –
A more multi-tasking juggling act is required to deal with the diversity, speed and complexity of booking travel these days, a bit like this –
So let’s dispel some of the myths about travel agents. A free trip is almost unheard of. Familiarisation trips are offered to agents but often involve a participation fee and sometimes agents must buy their own airfare as well. You can’t take your loved one with you, can’t choose when you go and often spend several hours each day inspecting hotels or sitting in conference rooms. Don’t get me wrong – I have been on some extraordinary “famils” over the years but not a free holiday!
The travel industry is incredibly transparent these days thanks to the internet. An agency can’t afford not to be competitive with airfares, cruise deals, car hire or accommodation rates. Almost anything you find on the internet an agent can access as well – plus we have our own set of unique deals, suppliers, contacts and rates. The best part is that instead of you, the customer, spending hours and hours trawling through websites trying to work out the best airfare for your itinerary, the best resort to stay at for your beach-side break or the best deal available for your favourite cruise line, your travel agent does the research for you. It doesn’t cost you money – it often saves you money (not to mention time). Just make sure that after your travel agent has done all the hard work finding you your dream holiday that you get them to make the booking for you.
What a travel agent actually does depends largely on the agency that they work for and what their role there is. An agent may only deal with corporate clients, or they may specialise in family holidays, or they may be a cruise agent. Luckily for me I get to do a bit of everything! Taking a business trip? Planning a honeymoon? Wanting to go skiing? Looking for a “girls weekend getaway”? Considering a cruise? Wanting a week by the beach? Keen for an overseas immersion experience? I can help you with any of these. From planning the entire trip down to the littlest details of a restaurant suggestion or a walking tour with a local – this is why a travel agent is not a dying breed and why we can be indispensable when it comes to helping you with your travel plans.
So why do I love being a travel agent? I get to talk about travel every single day. I get to design an itinerary that is unique to a certain client. I get to delve into the newest hotels, hunt for the most beautiful beach, find that perfect country cottage. It’s an exciting and challenging juggling act at times but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Putting it simply: I LOVE TRAVEL.
So next time you’re planning your travel, contact your travel agent and let them add their experience, passion and creativity to your next itinerary. Don’t have a good travel agent? Try me! Visit me at Sonia Jones Travel – I’d love to help.
x Sonia x