Just as you have many different options when selecting where to travel and what to do when you get there, you also have a variety of choices when selecting the travel agency that will help you to design your perfect vacation. When you are looking for the perfect travel agency to help you with all of your travel needs, it is first important that you understand the basic types of travel agencies from which to choose and significant differences in terms of the services they provide to a vacationer.
Before looking at different niches of travel agencies, one large distinction exists. Do you want to work with an online-based travel agency, or a locally-based travel agency? Depending on how either type of travel agency is run, you can have a vastly different experience. With an online-based travel agency, you can often receive service 24/7 and book your travel at any time that is most convenient to you. You will be able to retrieve information from many online-based travel agencies “on demand,” or exactly when you request it.
With a locally-based travel agency, you can often form relationships with particular travel agents who will also be your main point of contact for any future travel that you plan. In addition, the agents in your locally-based agency will be able to maintain information specific to your desires to help them to provide suggestions for future vacations. These are only a few of the distinctions between online and local travel agencies.
One recent innovation great for the customer is the emergence of travel agencies who provide both of the above – the personal service of a local, walk-in office with the 24/7 and technological convenience of online access to all your itineraries, account information and options for self-service booking when you want it. Look for a national brand with a history of providing reliable service and customer satisfaction; these companies are most likely to provide you with the best of both worlds in travel agency services.
Once you have determined whether you will use an online or a local travel agency, there are additional options from which to choose. The first option to consider is the level of service an agency will provide. Travel agencies can run the gamut from full service to self service. Especially with online travel agencies, information may simply be provided to aid in your travel decisions while leaving much of the leg work to you. If you prefer a travel planning experience that allows you to seek out all of your own information and make all of your decisions and reservations independently, a self service travel agency will be your best bet.
Full service travel agencies, whether online-based or locally-based, offer the exact opposite scenario. They pair an agent with you to provide all of the information you need, when you need it, and to be on hand to help you with all of the travel decisions that you make. In addition, they will handle all of your bookings and payments and logistics, sparing you the need to do so on your own. In between self service and full service agencies are other options that offer a combination of do-it-yourself plans and planning that involves the step-by-step guidance of a travel professional.
The second option is the type of travel an agency may designate as their specialty. Some travel agencies work only with domestic travel planning. They can assist you with any need you may have related to travel within the United States and its possessions. Other travel agencies work specifically to aid travelers in planning overseas travel. A further narrowing of this niche can occur when a travel agency focuses only on one particular area of the world for the travel services they provide, such as Europe or the Caribbean. You can also choose travel agencies that focus only on one particular type of travel, such as cruises or multi-segmented trips. It can be very important for you to decide whether you would like to partner with a niche travel agency, or a travel agency that is more broad-based.
The third option is the type of traveler an agency may specialize in assisting. Some travel agencies only work with a specific demographic of travel. For instance, you may choose a travel agency that caters to single travelers. This type of agency may work to put together travel packages and tours specifically geared towards singles instead of couples or families. Other travel agencies may work with just that – couples or families. Whether they focus on providing romantic destination options for two, or kid-friendly destinations for the whole family, this can be a popular niche for travel agencies. Finally, a travel agency may choose to focus exclusively on business travelers instead of leisure travelers. They may have options available to offer that are particularly suited to travelers who need different amenities and more flexibility in scheduling.
In conclusion there are many services a travel agency provides to make your life easier when planning a vacation or business travel. Most importantly, the agent offers years of expertise and knowledge of other travelers’ experiences from which you can benefit.