What does it really cost to use a travel agent?

There are so many misconceptions about what a travel agent does and how they are paid, so I thought I would try and answer some of those questions.

First, not all travel agents are created equal. All agents will strive to get the best value for the money, but in all honesty if you are comparing a travel agent quote to the rock bottom price at Costco, the travel agent will tell you to book Costco.
Why? One, the travel agent can’t compete with the pricing Costco has. That said, Costco cannot compete with the service a Travel Agent will provide.
For example, you booked your trip with Costco. You have a connecting flight but your first was delayed and you missed the second flight. You are now stuck at the airport with no support from Costco to get another flight to catch, say your cruise in time.
Now, that same scenario but you booked with a travel agent. You contact your agent, and they immediately provide you support and start working to get you booked on the next flight or make arrangements to connect with your cruise should you be unable to make the embarkation port in time. This is just part of the service a travel agent provides.
Another example for those of you that love to cruise. A travel agent is able to find options for you such as free upgrades and onboard spending credits.
A travel agent will spend hours looking for the best lodging options, resorts or put together a road trip that you ask for. They will follow up with each reservation and confirm everything to make sure your vacation goes a smoothly as possible.
Should an emergency arise while you are on vacation, your travel agent will be there to help you make arrangements to get home as quickly as possible.
If there are a group of people that wish to travel together, a travel agent can also make arrangements to provide additional ‘perks’ and secure group rates.
So, how does a travel agent get paid? Charging fees are left up to the individual agent and is something that you should ask about at your initial meeting with your agent. Many agents do not charge a planning fee.
As for myself, I do not charge a fee for vacation planning. I do charge a fee for destination weddings. This is what many travel agents do.
So, how do agents get paid? By commission. Each reputable supplier that an agent uses to book your vacation pays the agent a commission. These commissions vary from supplier and type of service. Agents are paid AFTER their client travels.
Commission rates do not impact the price you pay. For example, if you booked a cruise directly with your favorite cruise line, the price is exactly the same as if you booked through a travel agent. The supplier does not discount the rate.
So, please remember, when you ask a travel agent to look up some options for you, it is time they spend working for you. They get paid ONLY after you have not only booked, but after you have traveled. If you decided to go elsewhere or think you have found a better price and book elsewhere, the agent gets nothing for their time.  Many times, if you have found a better price AND you are comparing apples to apples, bring the same offer to your agent and they might be able to price match it.
Remember, using a travel agent isn’t just about getting the best deal, but about the service an agent can give you.
That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t plug a few hosted tours I have coming up in 2023.
In January, I am hosting an 8-night Caribbean cruise! Prices start at $520/person with on board spending credit of $75! Only available with Trip Along Travel.
My March Panama Canal cruise is SOLD OUT.
In December of 2023 I am hosting a 12-day German Christmas market tour. This tour is December 1-12 so you will be back in plenty of time to spend Christmas at home. This tour is $1850 per person and is filling up quickly.
Join myself and my mom (My travel buddy) on either or both of these tours and stay tuned for planned trips for 2024!




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