1. If you’re going on a cruise
A good travel agent will be able to find you the right cruise, on the right ship, on the right floor with the right room category while taking into account your overall budget for the cruise. This is particularly helpful if you’re about to book your first cruise.
2. If you’re in search of comprehensive service
Travel agencies have access to resources that are not available on-line, for example in relation to small carriers. They can also offer special discounts available only to them as an agency.
3. If you’re looking for air passes and around-the-world fares
Most airlines sell air passes (such as Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines) through travel agencies only. Although the agency charges a fee for sharing its knowledge, it can be quite helpful to sort out complex itineraries. Agents who specialize in around-the-world fares can usually get you a better deal, or at least help you pick the right routes to maximize your travel value.
4. If you are a specific-needs traveler
Many store-front travel agents specialize in specific types of travellers: senior citizens, gays and lesbians, naturists, or people with mobility issues. A resourceful travel agent can easily hook you up with like-minded individuals. Travel agents will go the extra mile to meet your needs.
5. If you’re planning a long, complex, multi-country trip
A three-week trip, or longer, to several countries usually requires multiple airline, hotel and car reservations. Many travellers prefer to leave these details to an expert who can advise on the specifics in relation to numerous destinations. You can make these arrangements yourself on-line, but it can be much easier to leave complex and detailed arrangements to people who do this every single day.
6. If you have complicated requests
Many travellers enlist the services of a travel agent to avoid frustration. If you need a specific room at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City—and that room only—a travel agent will have more success getting it for you than you would. Why? Because hotel administrators know that travel agents are in a position to recommend or not recommend a particular hotel to travellers, which makes them a powerful ally.
7. If you are traveling to a “difficult” country
It’s best to consult a travel agent if you’re planning a trip to India, Egypt, China, or any place that might be considered challenging. A well-connected travel agent can help you make reservations and set up a single payment for your trip instead of having to make arrangements with individual hotels and airlines (some of which are not set up to allow direct bookings or international payment by credit card). For travel to countries where obtaining a visa can be a trying experience, a travel agent can save you lots of headaches.
8. If you need a miracle
What do you do when your flight out of Buffalo has been cancelled, leaving you stranded? Don’t bother calling the airline. Your agent can have you re-booked and on the next available flight, sometimes within the hour. Many travel agents will go above and beyond the call of duty, making medical referrals if you get sick or even wiring cash if you get robbed or have maxed out your credit card.
9. If you’re uncomfortable using the Internet
Many people don’t have the computer skills required to research fares and make reservations on line. If you don’t feel you have the technical skills to do this yourself, then you should turn to a travel agent. There’s nothing wrong with asking a professional for help and advice.