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Breaking Down the Pros and Cons of Using a Travel Agent

You're convinced that having a travel expert by your side will be useful. But how do you go about knowing when and how to book with them?

What to know when you’re thinking of booking your next trip with a travel agent

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Confession: I’m a big fan of travel agents (whoops, sorry, travel advisers ), even though I could technically book all my trips through websites and apps. And despite the fact that many of us might consider this industry old-fashioned and out-of-date, research shows that travelers, and millennials in particular, are once again turning to these specialists to help plow through TripAdvisor detritus. If you’re wondering: how much does a travel agent cost, and why would I book with one anyway? Read on.

How to Know If You Need a Travel Agent

Once you’ve come around to the idea of hiring a travel agent, ask these three questions before booking:

  • Is this a domestic trip or one that involves traveling to a part of the world you’ve never been? If it’s the former you don’t need a travel agent.
  • Can I get a better deal by using a travel agent? (This question requires you pricing out your trip with and without one.)
  • Is this a big-budget, special-event kind of trip? If the answer is yes, go with a travel agent.

The Pros of Using a Travel Agent

They can find crazy deals..

This is literally their job. If they have been in the travel business for many years, they likely have supplier relationships in place that can help leverage better deals for you. Many travel agents specialize in locations (i.e., cruise vacations in Europe). Some travel agents offer package deals, with more savings passed on to you then booking the trip on your own—that is good news to your wallet.

They will be your advocate.

One of the best ways to utilize a travel agent is as an advocate should something derail on your trip. They can help you with lost luggage, in the case of natural disasters, if you get stuck in a location before your trip, etc. They are there to help you get your trip back on track.

They’ll take care of the little things.

I love my travel agent, and I love all the extras she provides when we use her services for a trip. For instance, when we traveled to the Bahamas, she made sure there was a nice bottle of champagne and strawberries in our room on our arrival, and she also upgraded our room free of charge. While this certainly is not a guarantee when you use a travel agent, there are a lot of added-value extras you can expect when you use a travel agent. Why? Because travel agents know you don’t have to use them to book your trip, and they want to say thank you.

They’re true experts.

Most travel agents have been working in the industry for years now, and it’s their job to stay on top of travel trends and upcoming hot destinations. When I spoke with my travel agent about a trip to Europe recently, she offered a few alternate destinations. I was not thinking about the destinations she suggested, but the alternatives offered great activities, culture, food, interesting boutique hotels, and more options for less money than my original destination.

They don’t usually cost extra.

It’s a myth that working with a travel agent will automatically cost you more; most get paid via commissions from the hotel or outfitter. Sure, some travel agents do charge a fee for putting together an itinerary, but most will credit you that fee if you end up booking the trip through them. Make sure you know all the potential fees before you use a travel agent, and do not hesitate to negotiate away.

The Cons of Using a Travel Agent

They’re not going to help with cheaper airfare..

Back in the day, you would use a travel agent to book every aspect of your trip. However, with so many options to find low-cost airfare, like Google Flights , Scott’s Cheap Flights , and  Skyscanner , booking your own flights is easy and cost-effective. Most travel agents cannot score discounted flights, and many travel agents will not even bother. Follow these tips on how to find the cheapest flights possible , instead.

They’re not you.

This may seem obvious, although it’s still important to consider. A travel agent not only finds you the best deals, but they also offer suggestions for activities, restaurants, and more. This is great if you’re someone who doesn’t like to research these things, but you run the risk of working with someone who doesn’t get your personal preferences (maybe they lean toward road tours rather than technical singletrack). Do your own research first, and come up with a list of activities that you want to do. Once you have that list, pass it along to your travel agent to see if they can rustle up any deals as they book.

How to Find a Great One

One of the best ways to find a reputable travel agent is to get referrals from your friends and family. Anyone that has used that travel agent for a previous trip and enjoyed their service is someone worth checking out. As with anything, I always suggest talking to at least two different travel agents to see who you feel most comfortable with. Remember, they are there to work for you.

Know your travel budget before you reach out to a travel agent. Likely, this will be the first question they ask you and will help steer them toward the best destinations for that budget. If you are traveling somewhere that’s specialized, like going on that once-in-a-lifetime African safari , find a specialist that knows that region inside and out. They will usually have the best deals and relationships with hotels and activity companies in that area.

How Much Does a Travel Agent Cost?

Usually, the cost of hiring a travel agent to organize a trip for you is fairly minimal. Many agencies charge a flat fee of around $100, and others may charge a certain small percentage of your trip. Most of their take-home profits come from the hotels, wholesalers, resorts, and businesses they work with, but be sure to as your travel agent about fees upfront and before you start working with them to plan your next dream vacation. (No one likes hidden fees and surprises.)

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Is a travel agent worth it the pros and cons.

Travel experts agree there are several advantages to hiring a vacation planner.

The Pros & Cons of Using a Travel Agent

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A travel agent can save you money and time.

Need to pivot your trip plans but don't want to deal with the extra time, money and hassle of rebooking flights and accommodations on your own? That's just one area where a knowledgeable travel agent (also commonly known as a travel advisor) can help. Read on to discover the other benefits – as well as the downsides – of using a travel agent, so you can confidently decide whether or not a travel agent is worth it for your next trip.

The Pros of Using a Travel Agent

Travel agents can save you money – and get you other perks.

"In some cases, you'll actually get a better  deal by working with a travel agent," says Jackie Steele, travel expert at MagicGuides . "This could be in the form of a cruise onboard credit (free spending money to use on the ship), access to special agency/group rates, or even just learning about a discount you qualify for but weren't aware of." The best agents will even keep an eye on new discounts as they're announced and apply them to your trip even after you've booked, he notes.

Travel agents handle all the details

Hotel room? Booked. Dinner reservations? Made. Tour tickets? Ready to go. A travel agent handles every detail of your vacation itinerary. "The traveler still gets to be involved in the fun part of dreaming up ideas and providing their travel wishes, while we take and perfect them," says Jessica Parker, founder of Trip Whisperer .

Molly McShea, owner and travel advisor at McShea Travel , points out that travel agents can also help with timing logistics. "Travel agents know how many days should be spent in each destination, which tours go together, and how many things you should do in a day," she says, adding that crafting an itinerary can be challenging if it's not something you regularly do. Additionally, travel agents can help you choose the best time to visit your preferred destination(s) based on seasonality and your budget, and sift through travel insurance policies to find the best option for your needs.

Travel agents can provide local expertise

"A travel advisor's industry connections and relationships provide added value to their clients," says Valerie Edman, a luxury travel advisor and agency owner at Cultured Travel LLC. She says when working with a travel agent, travelers gain access to a global network of connections including:

  • In-destination specialists who work exclusively with travel advisors and can connect travelers with unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences they wouldn't otherwise know about
  • Exclusive experiences not available to the general public

You'll avoid surprise fees

When deciding if a travel agent is worth it for you, remember this: A reputable agent can guarantee you won't encounter any surprise fees on accommodations and activities once your trip is booked.

You'll have someone to troubleshoot unexpected travel issues

A travel advisor is essentially your personal vacation concierge. "Because they've been around for so long, agents really know what to look for," says Christopher Elliott , a consumer advocate and journalist. "Travel agents are among the first to know about flight cancellations and delays , making it easy for them to rebook itineraries right away." 

The Cons of Using a Travel Agent

It might not be your cheapest option.

There are some instances when it makes more sense to plan your own trip. "If you're planning a quick flight from New York City to Los Angeles, it's easy enough to book it yourself online directly or through a third-party booking site," says Elliott. "If you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip or bucket list honeymoon , that's when you call the experts."

You'll have less flexibility in your itinerary

The upside of working with a travel agent is having someone plan an epic vacation for you based on industry knowledge and local expertise. But this can also be a downside in the event you discover an activity you'd like to do or a restaurant you'd like to try that isn't on your pre-planned itinerary. If you alter your plans, you risk losing money; plus, the time it takes for you and your travel agent to coordinate your change of plans may not be worth the hassle.

You still have to do some research

It's important to find an agent you can trust, which means you still have to do some of the vacation planning. For this part, Parker recommends picking up the phone. "Lots of people avoid or don't pick up the phone as much anymore," she says. "That's where you get the high-touch service, tone of voice, excitement or concerns to manage." She advises to look for the following red flags:

  • No fees: " Travel advisors are charging planning fees more now or increasing them, so the client knows more confidently than ever, we work for them, not the suppliers with the best commissions," Parker explains. "There are a lot of things that are non-commissionable and the advisor's time and expertise shouldn't be given away for free, either. That's the best way to show an advisor takes their business seriously."
  • Limited options: If you work with someone who is inexperienced or has an incentive to book you with a certain supplier, they may not be prioritizing your best interests. "It's important to check if they are with a larger consortia, accreditations and network, typically listed on their website and signatures," says Parker. "That level of mindshare doesn't come with a lone advisor unless they have many, many years of experience."
  • Slow response times: If communication is delayed, that's a sign they may be too busy to plan your trip – but again, this is something you can avoid by having the right conversations early on.

Edman suggestes starting your search with the American Society of Travel Advisors . "ASTA-verified travel advisors are committed to the highest industry standards and have verifiable industry knowledge so consumers can feel confident in working with them," she says.

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are travel agents more expensive than online


Travel Agent vs. Booking Online: What Is More Reliable?

are travel agents more expensive than online

Should You Book Online or Use a Travel Agent?

Are you planning a big trip soon? Before you start packing your bags, you need to figure out how to book your airfares and accommodation. Thanks to the internet and online booking technology, you no longer have to hire a travel agent, but does that mean you should always book online? In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of both options! 

Differences Between Booking Online and Travel Agents

Travel agents are brokers who help travelers find the best accommodation, airfares, transport, and activities. Travel agents can book everything for you, from flights and hotels to concert tickets and more! These travel experts can also advise on where to go, where to stay, sights you need to see, and more. They can use their skills and relationships with hotels and airlines to plan an incredible trip for you. 

In contrast to letting a travel agent handle all the logistics, you can hop online and book everything yourself. You can now go to a hotel or airline’s site and book directly with them, or you can use an online travel agent such as Booking.com or Expedia. Thanks to the internet and online booking technology, you can play the role of your agent, but before you start booking flights and hotels, check out the pros and cons of both options below!

Pros Of Using Travel Agent

Before you book that around-the-world trip all by yourself, consider using a travel agent. Here are the top reasons why millions of people prefer using travel agents!

  • Exclusive deals  – Travel agents can often get you deals that you can’t find on the internet. They are especially skilled at finding you all-inclusive package options where your flights, hotels, and entertainment are combined for an amazing below-market price. Hiring travel agents can leverage their relationship with airlines and hotels to put together packages with unbeatable prices.
  • Save efforts – It can be a massive headache jumping from one airline to another looking for a good flight. And then trying to book hotels can also be a nightmare; it is easy to lose hours of your life scrolling through Booking.com! Luckily, you can tell your travel agent exactly what you want; for example, you want to go to Rome and Paris on these dates, you want a mid-range hotel in the center of the city, and here is your budget. Then your agent will handle everything! 
  • Provide expert advice – Travel agents don’t just help you book your dream trip; they can also offer advice and tips. They know where the best locations are, what the best hotels are, and which airlines to avoid. With a travel agent’s expert advice, you can discover places you never thought of visiting, stay at incredible hotels and have a once-in-a-lifetime trip! 

Cons Of Using Travel Agent

While travel agents do offer some unique advantages over booking online, they also have a few cons; check them out below:

  • Not in complete control – While using a travel agent service may save you time, it also involves entrusting a 3rd party to book your trip. Using a travel agent may not be suitable if you like to be hands-on and are very particular about things. 
  • Finding a trustworthy company is not always easy – While there are a lot of travel agents out there, many cannot provide significantly better deals than booking directly with hotels and airlines. Also, it is not uncommon for travel agents to make mistakes, such as booking the incorrect date or choosing the wrong hotel.
  • Not suitable for quick trips – If you wake up one day and decide you want to go to London next week, then you are betting off booking online. Travel agents are often unable to accommodate spontaneous trips and need some time to sort out your travel logistics.

Pros Of Booking Online

Now you know the pros and cons of using a travel agent, it is time to check out the advantages of booking online:

  • Faster – If you know exactly where you want to go and when it is typically faster to book online. You can hop an airline’s site and book your flight in a couple of minutes, and then do the same for a hotel. You don’t need to waste your time calling up travel agents, visiting physical offices, and chatting about different offers. Save time by just booking online!
  • Lower cost – Sometimes, it is much cheaper to book online than use a travel agent. Travel agents usually can offer great deals on packaged holidays to touristy destinations such as the Maldives or Greece. However, if you are planning a week in New York and then a week in LA, they often can’t compete, and it makes sense to book online. 
  • Book whenever you like – The beauty of the internet is that it is limitless! If you want to book your flight and hotel at 2 am, you can! You don’t have to wait for office hours from Monday to Friday to book your dream holiday.
  • Complete control of your trip – When booking online, you don’t have to cede control of your travel logistics over to someone else. Whenever you add additional people to a task, it increases the risk of miscommunication. If you book everything yourself, you don’t have to worry about your travel agent booking the wrong hotel or airline or selecting an incorrect date! 

Cons Of Booking Online

Don’t go booking online just yet! Make sure you consider these disadvantages prior to whipping out your credit card and booking everything yourself:

  • Easy to make mistakes – Booking hotels and tours in countries halfway across the world that you have never been to before is difficult. A few pictures and online reviews are often not enough to determine if a place is good or not. This is where travel agents can really shine by offering their expert advice!
  • Customer service can be poor – Unfortunately, online travel agents are known for their horrendous customer service. It can be almost impossible to speak to someone if something goes wrong, and getting a timely refund can be a nightmare. 
  • You need internet – If you are a little more old school and prefer to call your travel agent or go to a physical location, online booking is not for you!
  • Too many options – It can be a little intimidating going online and seeing 30 different flights, hundreds of cities, and hotels. It is easy to develop decision paralysis and conclude it is all too difficult. Travel agents can simplify the process by coming up with 3 to 5 amazing options for you.

Final Thoughts

After cruising through this article, you should now have a pretty good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of using travel agents to book online. We recommend you contact several travel agents and see what offers they have and then compare them with the online booking prices and choose the best!



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The Complete Guide to Booking Travel Online

What is an online travel agency, and what are the best sites and apps to use to search for hotels and flights we break it all down for you..

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The Complete Guide to Booking Travel Online

There’s a lot to navigate when researching and booking travel online.

Photo by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

My first travel adventure was to Venezuela. I booked the ticket with a travel agent over a pay phone. The agent searched a dozen flight itineraries over a few days, all so I could save $15.

Times have changed. Today, flight searches start online , often on your mobile device. Passengers book either directly with the airline or hotel or with online travel agencies. Rarely do we get on the phone. In fact, American Airlines and United Airlines charge $25 to make a domestic flight booking by phone. And pay phones hardly exist anymore.

So, what is the best way to book online? Here is our complete guide to online travel agencies, search tools, and the variety of booking options available on both mobile devices and desktops.

What is an OTA?

An online travel agency, or OTA, is a website or mobile app that allows users to search for and book travel services such as flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and activities. The booking is made directly with the online travel agency but confirmed by the service provider, such as an airline or a hotel. As a customer, your relationship is with the OTA.

What are the main OTAs?

Many online travel agencies nowadays are owned by two main companies: Expedia and Priceline. The Expedia Group is the largest online travel agency in the United States with 70 percent market share, according to travel data firm Phocuswright. Expedia Group operates Expedia.com , Orbitz, Hotels.com , Trivago, CheapTickets , Hotwire , Vrbo , and Travelocity .

Priceline is a major competitor to Expedia, with global revenues larger than the Expedia Group. The company owns Priceline.com, Booking.com, Cheapflights, Momondo, and Kayak—the latter two being metasearch engines (more on that below).

There are also independent newcomers such as Hopper (a mobile-only booking tool) and Kiwi.com (which allows you to book flights on air carriers that don’t normally have a commercial relationship).

Are OTA fares lower than booking directly?

Generally, no. The fares that are displayed by an OTA will be similar if not slightly more expensive when compared to an airline’s website. They’re usually only a few dollars higher or lower. The OTAs charge a booking fee to the airlines, and often that fee is passed directly to consumers. For example, Lufthansa tacks on an additional $18 to any booking made through an OTA for Lufthansa flights. The same flights are exactly $18 cheaper on the airline’s website.

Where you can score a good travel deal through an OTA is when booking a last-minute hotel and flight package. Many OTAs have cut agreements with airlines allowing last-minute travelers to access lower rates than are typically available when passengers book a flight alone.

Are all airlines available to be booked through OTAs?

No. Many OTAs do not display flights from some of the low-fare leaders. For example, Southwest and Allegiant flights are not available through OTAs; the same goes for Ryanair in Europe. And, earlier this year United Airlines threatened to pull out of Expedia altogether, only recently signing a multi-year agreement to stay in. The airlines would rather not lose any margin to online travel agencies in an already low-margin industry and would rather maintain a direct relationship with the customer.

Are smaller OTAs safe to use?

Expedia and Priceline are the two largest players in the online booking space, but there are dozens of independent OTAs, such as CheapOAir, OneTravel, JustFly, and SmartFares. Confusingly, you might actually stumble on ads for these OTAs while using Expedia or Priceline sites. That’s because the larger OTAs earn revenue through advertising, sending passengers to smaller OTAs and charging those OTAs for the favor.

Buyer beware: some of these lesser-known OTAs are masters at hidden fees. For example, a flight search on JetBlue allows for free seat selection in many instances. If you perform the same search on FlightNetwork, an independent OTA, and select a seat, you will be charged an additional $25—despite the fact that JetBlue doesn’t charge a seat selection fee if you book directly.

What if you need to change your itinerary?

Itinerary changes are often a pain. If your plans change, it won’t matter whether you’ve booked directly with an airline or with an OTA—you’re going to pay fees for the privilege, if you can even change your ticket at all.

For example, CheapTickets.com, which is part of the Expedia Group, charges $25 to change or cancel a ticket if that change is requested after 24 hours of making the booking—it is free if you do so within 24 hours of booking. However, the fees go up from there. JustFly, an independent OTA, charges a $75 fee for changes to domestic flights in addition to airline change fees, plus the difference in fare, for tickets that can be changed. For an international trip, the fee rises to $200. That means to change an international flight with Delta (which charges a $100 change fee) booked through JustFly, you’ll be assessed $300 in fees, plus the difference in fare. At that rate, you may as well book a new flight. FlightNetwork indicates in its terms of service that changes may incur a change fee but doesn’t specify what those fees are. That hardly makes the few dollars you saved by booking with the OTA in the first place worth it.

What is an OTA price match policy?

To assure travelers that they are getting the lowest fare possible, many OTAs have a price match policy. The rules vary and so do the benefits.

For example, if you book with Orbitz and find a less expensive flight, car rental, or activity on any U.S.-based website within 24 hours of your booking, Orbitz will refund you the difference you paid. And it works: I have personally found a flight in the same class, on the same airline, for the same origin and destination cities, and requested Orbitz to refund the difference of around $35. Within a few weeks, I received a check in the mail. A similar program applies for CheapOAir, but there’s a catch—the price difference must be found on a major OTA such as Expedia or Travelocity.

Expedia has a particularly good price match policy, but you have to pay extra for it at the time of booking. Expedia offers the price match option as an add-on that costs between $5 and $30 when you book. With the price match applied, if the airfare on Expedia drops between 120 days of the flight and up to six hours before the flight, Expedia will automatically refund you the difference in fare. Unfortunately, fares generally do not drop substantially as the travel date approaches, so while this might give you peace of mind, it’s probably not worth the expense.

How do Google Flights and other travel metasearch engines work?

Frequent fliers are likely familiar with websites such as Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, or Skyscanner. On these websites, passengers search on the site but are redirected to the service provider to complete the booking, such as an airline, rental car company, or hotel.

Metasearch started with a product called ITA Matrix, which is a tool for searching airfares online but not for actually booking online. ITA Matrix allows for multi-city searching, such as setting two different departure or arrival airports, and for offering a calendar view of fares for easier comparison. That company was acquired by Google in 2011, and savvy travelers swear by it to help find the least expensive fares online. Most consumers are more familiar with Google Flights, which has gained traction more recently not least because it has the benefit of being displayed first in search results on Google.

Metasearch engines receive distribution fees from the airlines for sending traffic to the supplier websites. There are no additional hidden fees for using a metasearch engine because you’re booking directly with the airline or hotel.

A major benefit of the metasearch engines is their price tracking tool, which lets users know whether the displayed fares are low, average, or high for the flight, allowing travelers to make a more informed decision on whether to book a flight or not . Google Flights and Kayak, for instance, both have price tracking tools.

Why not just book directly?

The airlines would definitely much rather you book directly with them. Over the past five years, they have gotten much better at marketing and selling their product directly to consumers online and through mobile sites and apps. But in the past, they weren’t so good at it. In fact, Delta, Northwest, United, American, and Continental got together to invest $145 million to launch Orbitz in 1999 to counter the threat from Expedia. Now Orbitz is owned by Expedia.

The airlines also try to encourage customers to book directly so that they can maintain a closer relationship with them. It allows carriers to connect bookings with loyalty programs and create special offers and discounts catered to individual passengers.

There is another benefit to booking directly. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires carriers to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty, so long as the booking is made at least seven days before travel. The law applies, however, only to U.S. and foreign air carriers that have websites marketed to U.S. consumers. This means that, in theory, an online travel agency does not have to offer such a policy, although most OTAs do.

What are the options for booking on your mobile device?

Airlines and the major OTAs all have apps to help you book and manage your trip on your mobile device, but their functionality is lacking compared to these websites’ desktop editions. For example, Expedia’s app doesn’t allow you to view flights on a month-view calendar. Kayak has an app with more bells and whistles and a better user interface, including a month-view calendar with color-coded pricing. It also has a handy “augmented reality” function to help you see if your carry-on bag will fit in the overhead bin (a feature originally developed by KLM). Point your phone’s camera at the luggage, and it’ll give you the dimensions.

While apps are improving and gaining in popularity, you still might find it easier to locate the best deals on flights and hotels by using your desktop, where you can have multiple tabs open and have all the available search tools at your disposal. Apps are fine for booking directly with an airline once you know which flights you want to book.

If you’re determined to use your mobile device, you may want to look into Hopper. Hopper is a mobile-first flight booking tool that has a solid price prediction tool. You can research travel options and book directly on the app. Another benefit of Hopper: Of its team of 300 employees, nearly half are dedicated to customer support and are based in Canada versus some OTAs and airlines that outsource much of their customer service further afield.

The bottom line?

Like many travelers, I enjoy a flight deal as much as the next person, but I also don’t like any added hassle. I typically start my travel searches using the ITA Matrix or Google Flights to get a general sense of the fares. It helps to know what is a good deal and what is expensive for a particular route. I do my research, typically on a desktop computer. When I’m ready to book, I’ll book directly with the airline. I’ve found that customer service is better when booking directly with the service provider. But I’ve also saved money by using OTAs and have booked with them, too. Whichever way you choose to book, you can be safe in the knowledge that finding and purchasing travel online is a lot easier today than searching for a deal with a travel agent on a pay phone.

>> Next: How to Get the Best Last-Minute Travel Deals

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What Are OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and Should You Book With One?

Scott Keyes

Scott Keyes

August 7, 2023

There are two ways to buy flights online: directly with the airline, or via an online travel agency.

Though buying directly with the airline is self-explanatory, online travel agencies (also known as OTAs) are a bit more complicated. When Going sends our members cheap flights , we typically recommend you book directly with the airline, as there are some clear benefits of doing so, but sometimes we'll point you to an OTA if the fare is significantly cheaper there.

And since one of the top questions travelers have is whether a given OTA is reliable, it’s helpful to understand more about what OTAs are before deciding for yourself if the potential savings are worth it.

What are online travel agencies?

Online travel agencies are companies that sell you flights, online. They act as a middleman between airlines and consumers, though their prices can often be cheaper than booking direct.

Most people are familiar with top OTAs like Expedia , Orbitz , Travelocity , Hopper, and Priceline . There are hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller OTAs as well, and more pop up all the time. Some smaller ones include OneTravel, Kiwi, GotoGate, JustFly, Vayama, Tripsta, TravelMerry, ExploreTrip, Kiss&Fly, Webjet, Travelgenio, Bookairfare, Fareboom, Skybooker, Travel2be, OneTwoTrip!, and eBookers.

How do online travel agencies work?

Online travel agencies work by plugging into a “ global distribution system ,” which is a fancy name for the market where airlines tell distributors what they’re charging for their flights.

When you book directly on an airline’s website, your ticket typically gets issued almost immediately. That’s because the airline is both the seller and provider of the ticket, so it’s rare that their system allows them to sell something they don’t actually have in stock.

With OTAs, especially smaller ones, there’s a delay between when you purchase the ticket and when you’re issued the ticket. That’s because, unlike the airlines, OTAs don’t actually have the tickets they sell. Instead, the OTA is the middleman, connecting customers with airlines and taking a small commission from the airline in the process.

When you click to buy a roundtrip Delta flight from New York to London for $400, what happens is the OTA charges your credit card $400, then turns around and checks with Delta to make sure that ticket is available at that price. This process can take anywhere from a few minutes to 48 hours; each OTA is different and there are a ton of variables impacting transaction time.

But unlike most middlemen, OTAs don’t typically jack up the price. In fact, they usually offer the same price—and often times a lower price—than you’ll find directly with an airline.

Why are fares sometimes cheaper on online travel agencies?

There are a few reasons why OTAs can sometimes offer cheaper fares than booking directly with an airline. They might:

  • Sell flights less than cost . OTAs may sell fares for less than they cost, either as a loss leader (in the hopes you’ll book additional add-ons like a hotel or rental car) or in order to accrue market share (hoping you’ll book your next trip with them as well)
  • Pass on the commission . Airlines dole out a commission every time a traveler books their flight through an OTA. The OTA, in turn, may pass some or all of that commission on to consumers
  • Specific discounts . Airlines regularly negotiate with OTAs to allow them to sell certain flights at a discount. The airline may not want the lower fare broadcast too widely, so only one or two OTAs are given the discounted rate.
  • Less customer support . Many smaller OTAs save money and offer lower fares by skimping on customer support.
  • Big change/cancellation fees . Many smaller OTAs charge inflated change or cancellation fees in order to offer lower prices initially.

What benefit can online travel agencies have?

It can be cheaper.  The main benefit of OTAs is they are often cheaper than booking directly with an airline. The same flight selling on United.com for $600 may cost $500 on an OTA, for example.

You can combine airlines for the perfect itinerary. Some OTAs like Kiwi let you purchase multi-airline itineraries. Airlines will only sell you their own flights (or partner airlines’ flights). Some OTAs, on the other hand, will let you buy a single itinerary that crosses the ocean on Delta, say, but then take your final leg on Ryanair.

What drawbacks can online travel agencies have?

The 24-hour rule may not apply. One of the best tools to have in your back pocket when buying flights is the 24-hour rule , which lets you cancel a ticket you booked without any penalty as long as you do so within 24 hours of purchase. This protection is guaranteed by the federal government, but only when you book directly with an airline . Some OTAs like Priceline offer their own 24-hour guarantee, but it’s not required by law and most OTAs make all sales final.

Customer service can be lacking. OTAs, especially smaller ones, often skimp on customer support. This can range from outsourced and minimally-staffed call centers to exorbitant fees if you need to change or cancel your ticket. Of course, this lack of support is part of how OTAs offer lower fares to begin with.

If things go wrong, it gets complicated. In addition, having a middleman can complicate any mishaps because airlines will tell you to coordinate any issues through the OTA rather than directly with the airline. And the OTA may turn around and push things back on the airline, leaving you stuck in the middle.

Mistake Fares are less likely to be honored. Finally, when there’s a Mistake Fare , booking through an OTA carries some risks. Think back to how OTAs operate. Unlike booking directly with an airline, booking through an OTA means going through a middleman, which can delay how quickly you receive your ticket after clicking purchase. For normal fares this rarely makes a difference because the fare is far less likely to imminently change. But for Mistake Fares, which can disappear any minute, that delay in receiving your ticket can be the difference between your purchase being honored and it being politely refunded with the quoted fare no longer being available.

This delay between purchasing and ticketing is one of the reasons why we recommend people wait a week or two before making any non-refundable travel plans. But once you’ve got an e-ticket number with the airline and can see your itinerary on the airline’s website, you should be all set.

How do OTAs make money? 

Online travel agencies make money by taking a commission from the airline, hotel, car rental agency, or cruise line when you book.

(At Going, we don't take any commissions from the airlines when we send our members deals. We make money when members pay for our services, which means our number one priority is making members happy, not getting them to book specific flights that line our pockets.)

Am I going to get scammed by online travel agencies?

If you’re worried that a smaller OTA will take your money and not give you a ticket, don’t be.

The worst you can expect is that, on occasion, you purchased a fare that no longer existed when you bought it. If that happens, they will reach out to you (almost always within 48 hours or less) to tell you your ticket can’t be sold at that price. At that point, you’re given the option to either purchase at a higher price or have the entire transaction voided and your money refunded.

Why do some online travel agencies have terrible reviews?

It's true that some online travel agencies have bad reviews. Does that mean you shouldn't use them? There are two schools of thought here.

The first is that these reviews are worthwhile because other people’s experiences can be instructive.

The second is that the nature of internet reviews tends to skew towards negative experiences. How many people whose flight was uneventful are then motivated to go back and write a review for the OTA they purchased it from?

Another other reason it can be worthwhile to take a nuanced approach to negative reviews is that they tend to come from folks who didn’t understand how smaller OTAs operate. They may have been unaware of the higher change/cancellation fees, outsourced customer service representatives, or the delay between purchasing and ticketing. Obviously those aspects of smaller OTAs aren’t ideal, but its those factors that also allow for often-substantial price savings.

Are all airlines listed on OTAs? 

No, unfortunately not all airlines are listed on all search sites. Notably in the US, Southwest fares aren't listed on Google Flights. Often, smaller regional carriers don't work with the large OTAs so you'll need to search those directly.

Should I book through an OTA or directly with an airline?

This is the million-dollar question. On the one hand, an OTA fare may be hundreds of dollars cheaper than booking directly. On the other hand, it’s completely understandable to be hesitant about booking a flight through an OTA you’ve never heard of before.

There are a few cut-and-dry situations. If the price is the same booking directly with the airline versus booking through an OTA, there’s almost never a reason to book through the OTA.

Conversely, if the OTA price is over $500 off the direct price, of course an OTA is the way to go.

But for more gray-area situations, it mostly comes down to a personal comfort level.

Questions to consider:

  • How certain are you to take that specific flight? If there’s more than a 10% chance you’ll want to change or cancel your flights, the initial cost savings may not be worth the potential fees for altering your plans.
  • Are the potential savings worth it? If the OTA savings is $5, most people would be wise just to book direct. If the savings start to become substantial, it starts to become a matter of individual comfort. Is paying an extra $50 worth the extra peace of mind of booking directly? $100? $200?
  • Is it a Mistake Fare? Because booking through an OTA can lessen the chance a mistake fare is honored, the potential savings should be higher to make it worth it. Someone may prefer to book through an OTA if the savings exceed $50, but might increase that savings threshold to $100 if it’s a mistake fare, for instance.

Join Going and save up to 90% on your next flight. We're not an OTA—we just let you know when fares drop to amazing prices that can save you hundreds.

Scott Keyes

Founder & Chief Flight Expert

Published August 7, 2023

Last updated January 9, 2024

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Are travel agents worth it? Pros, cons and what to consider

December 21, 2023 | 5 min read

Travel agents were more common in the past, but they can still be an option when it comes to planning your next vacation. Learn more about using a travel agent, including what they do, how much they cost and how they compare to planning a vacation yourself.

Key takeaways

  • Travel agents can plan your trips for you, from booking hotels to making sure you have the right documents for traveling.
  • The cost for a travel agent could range from nothing at all to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
  • Travel agents may help you access upgrades and benefits that you may not find on your own, but finding the right travel agent could take time.

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What is a travel agent?

Travel agents, also known as travel advisors, plan trips for individuals and groups. This can include booking flights, rental cars, hotels, restaurants and tours as well as purchasing travel insurance , obtaining necessary visas for international travel and more.

A travel agent can coordinate your itinerary, from organizing multiple destinations to handling last-minute flight cancellations. Generally speaking, travel agents take on the research and logistics of trip planning so you can focus on the trip itself.

How much does a travel agent cost?

Travel agents may charge service fees, flat-rate trip fees or consultation fees. For example, you might pay a flat rate of between $100 and $500 for a travel agent. There are some travel agents who operate with no cost to customers and instead receive commissions on the flights and accommodations they book. Others may offer more high-end, customized experiences at premium rates in the thousands.

Is it more expensive to go through a travel agent?

When it comes to cost, it depends on what works best for you. Travel agents may help you save money by using their know-how to find the best price on your airline tickets or hotel room—or even secure upgrades. However, with so many online booking resources available—like Capital One Travel —finding inexpensive flights and booking all your own travel might outweigh the price of a travel agent.

Pros and cons of using a travel agent

Deciding whether a travel agent is worth it to you will depend on your financial situation, your personal preferences and the type of trip you’re planning. Whether you want to leave the travel planning to someone else or plan your next trip yourself , it can be helpful to consider all the factors.

Advantages of using a travel agent

A travel agent could offer the following advantages:

  • Handing off the research and booking to an expert can save time in the trip-planning process.
  • Using a travel agent may help you during the trip, because travel agents could assist in cases of emergencies, cancellations and other travel complications.
  • An agent’s industry knowledge can be helpful in finding benefits that may not be accessible to you, from flight deals and upgrades to extra credits to use aboard cruise lines.
  • Travel agents could plan more exclusive activities for you away from the crowds and find you more unique experiences tailored to your interests.
  • Many travel agents offer the option of an all-inclusive fee up front, so you likely won’t have to worry about additional costs once you’ve booked the trip.

Disadvantages of using a travel agent

There are also some potential disadvantages of using a travel agent to consider:

  • You may prefer booking your own trip if you have specific tastes and like to handpick each stop along your journey.
  • Depending on the trip you have in mind, you might save more money by organizing it yourself rather than through a travel agent, especially if you opt for an affordable vacation spot or want to leverage budget-friendly travel tips .
  • While a travel agent can save you research time for your trip, you’ll still need to spend time finding the right agent to stick to your budget and needs.
  • If you’re the spontaneous type, booking an itinerary may feel restrictive. Doing things your own way can offer greater flexibility.
  • A travel rewards credit card may give you certain benefits that a travel agent can’t.

Should you use a travel rewards credit card instead?

Travel agents can take some of the stress out of travel planning, but if you’re the type of person who wants control over their itinerary, reservations and other aspects of your trip, opening a travel rewards credit card may be a better option.

Travel rewards credit cards can come with benefits that travel agents may not be able to offer. For example, with a Capital One travel rewards credit card, you could enjoy access to exclusive features like Capital One Travel , a  TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry credit , Priority Pass™ and more. You’ll also earn rewards on every dollar you spend, even if it’s not related to travel. And you can use those rewards toward airfare and hotel stays.

Keep in mind that you’re free to open a travel rewards credit card and use a travel agent. And if you use your card to pay for their services and the reservations they make, you might earn rewards for those purchases too.

Travel agents in a nutshell

Travel agents can be worth it if you prefer to leave the legwork of planning a trip to someone else, or if you enjoy getting upgrades and visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations. They might even save you money on your trip.

It all comes down to how you prefer to travel. If you’re looking for a simple way to earn rewards that you can use toward your airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and other travel-related costs, you might want to consider a travel rewards credit card from Capital One .

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Is it cheaper to hire a travel agent or book on your own? We looked into it

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How much time do you spend researching your next vacation? According to Expedia , Americans visit 140 travel websites before booking their next vacation. Could you be saving time and money using a travel agent?

"Really truly what we work on is value, you're getting someone with knowledge and experience on your side, so you don't have to do all of the work," said Crystal Seaton with Road to Relaxation Travel .

Seaton says booking through a travel agent typically won't cost you more. She says while some agents will charge you a nominal planning fee, many agencies like hers do not charge anything extra for their services.

"We get paid a commission on the back end from the vendor, so that's how we make our income," she said.

She did say they sometimes charge a fee if it's for a major complex trip with extensive planning.

When it comes to getting the same deals offered online, Seaton says, "99 percent of the time we can get the same deals."

"What I caution people," she said, "is to look beyond price to value because sometimes those digital deals come with a lot of small print that you don't notice upfront."

You need to make sure the advertised price is the final cost, and there are no extra taxes and fees added on after booking.

Seaton gave examples of when travel agents can save their clients' money on trips to Disney.

"We monitor promotions," she said. "Disney had a fall promotion that's come out recently. Our agents were up through the night waiting for it to drop based on what we're hearing, and then we go through the reservations that are booked for us and see who qualifies for it and apply it."

She says agents do the same thing when it comes to cruises and all-inclusive trips.

When you book on your own, you could be locked in on the price. The biggest difference is time.

According to Expedia, Americans spend nearly 23 hours on travel websites six weeks prior to booking a vacation. Those are hours that you could save for other things and let a travel agent do the work for you.

If you prefer booking your trip on your own online, Rob Stern, with RobPlansYourTrip.com says consider this: " Travel agents offer many things that the Internet does not, including personal knowledge of destinations and our recent travel experiences, knowing the quality of different travel suppliers, and providing a live resource for help during your trip. We have access to some industry only booking engines for travel packages as well."

If you book through an agent, they can also help when problems arise on your trip.

"Travel agents can help with troubleshooting when suppliers don't come through, in cases of bad weather, labor strikes, lost luggage, flight delays and cancellations," he said. "If there's an issue at a hotel or with a car rental when can often resolve it. We can explain what types of travel protection plans are the best for your type of trip."

Whether you are booking on your own or with an agent, Seaton says, "My best advice is to plan early. Your better deals are almost always early."

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Using a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online: An Infographic

What would you say if I told you that travel agents aren’t in competition with online travel agency giants like Trip Advisor, Booking.com, Expedia, Priceline, and others? Maybe you’re waiting for a punchline, but I’m honestly not telling a joke.

While starting a home-based travel agency in the shadow of internet giants like Expedia can feel like a David vs. Goliath scenario, I’m here to bring you glad tidings of the ways in which travel agents have an edge over OTAs.

Looking ahead to 2026, OTA market share is projected to dip one point to 21% while travel agencies are predicted to increase their market share 5 points to 26%.

Not only that, but travelers are beginning to recognize the value of an advisor. In 2023, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) reported 50% of travelers were more likely to use a travel advisor than in the past. 1 .

Want more good news? Phocuswright reported that in 2022 travel agencies comprised 21% of US travel market channel share, only one point behind online travel agencies (22%). Looking forward to 2026 however, OTA market share is projected to dip to 21% while travel agencies are predicted to increase their share 5 points to 26%.

So yes. Travelers are using advisors! And yes! Travel agencies compete with OTAs. So suspend your doubt and hear me out. We're going to chat on how travel agents save travelers TONS of time (and money) on their vacations!

No Seriously, Americans Spend So Much Time Online Planning Travel, It’s Ridiculous.  

Expedia Media Group's research documented that American travelers spent an aggregate of 8.7 capital-B-BILLION minutes of travel planning and booking time in 2015. It seems ludicrous, right? I know, I did a double-take. But that is the amount of time Americans spent consuming digital travel content in 2015, according to their white paper, “ The American Traveler’s Path to Purchase .” 2

In the 45 days prior to booking travel—from beginning research to final purchase— the traveling American visited a whopping 140 travel websites . No seriously, that is not a typo.

How much time does this add up to? Well, the report indicated that in the six weeks prior to booking, Americans consumed 22.95 hours of digital travel media .

Is your jaw on the floor yet? Well, it’s about to get even more slack: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in the U.S. as of Jan. 2021 registered at $29.96/hr 3 , which means that it costs American travelers roughly $687.58 of work time to plan and book vacations.

What does this mean for travelers?

A). A traveler can plan and book their vacation while they’re on company dime (preferably not one they own) and hope they don’t get fired for it. Or, better yet . . .

B.) Go with a travel agent, don’t get fired, and save over $700 of their time.

How OTAs Work, and Why They Don’t Save Travelers Money Anymore

The $700+ savings in work time really just scratches the surface. There are tons of other ways that using a travel agent vs. booking online saves clients money.

1. OTA Access to Inventory Is limited

When you were a kid and asked your parents for a snack, they probably didn’t open the fridge and cupboards and let you have at it (let alone take you to the grocery store to pick whatever you wanted). No, they probably pulled out a few choice items and said, “this is what you can choose from.”

OTAs operate in the same way. OTAs used to rely on ample off-peak inventory, and empty seats on planes and rooms in hotels to offer discounts, and it worked 4 . Vendors would dump their excess inventory on OTA sites for a premium commission to OTAs. Heck, at the end of the day, selling a hotel room for cheap is better than zippo, right? But the OTAs are no longer the land of milk and honey they used to be.

There was a huge rise in the number of OTAs and suppliers smartened up, doing things like having contracts where OTAs were not able to offer prices lower than what the traveler could find directly on the brand site. They stopped offering premium commissions, and some vendors (like Southwest) even refused to sell their inventory on OTAs. (Does this sound familiar? Airlines did the same thing, cut commissions to travel agents in the 90s).

In fact, it’s the vendors that price the products—not the OTAs themselves. So, like the stingy parents, OTAs will not offer the smorgasbord of travel products and discounts they used to. They can’t.

Now let's jump back to the travel agent vs. booking online thing. A travel agent will open all their cupboards and find the best value available. Heck, they’ll even take you to the grocery store and present a full range of available travel options. Travel agents not only have access to products and pricing, but they also have the savvy to know the nitty-gritty of things like which airlines offer more spacious seating or provide better beverage service for the same price.

2. Price Discrimination and “Steering”

According to the same Wired article above, the OTAs' pricing would shift constantly due to supply and demand. This means that customers could potentially be directed to sites that weren’t the best deals, depending on the quantity demanded while the traveler books their trip, trying to create a false sense of urgency for travelers to book with warnings like, “2 rooms left at this price?”

OTAs with their Big-Brother-like technology know when and how a traveler is booking. So if a traveler is attempting to book a hotel on a mobile phone the same evening of their desired reservation date, the OTA’s magic algorithm will smell their desperation and potentially steer the customer to a more expensive booking.

Price discrimination comes into play when they charge different consumers different prices for the same product (which is illegal). According to the Wired article, at one point, “Orbitz was steering Apple OSX users, for example, to more expensive hotels, since the algorithm assumed that an Apple user was more affluent than a PC user.”

Agents don’t, and can’t, do that. There is a level of price stability when purchasing from a travel agent—who can put holds on tickets and packages to preserve the price until the end of the day or for 24 hours.

3. Fine Print

Surprise! There are taxes and fees that might sneak up on the purchaser when they get to the checkout of an OTA. With travel agents, the full cost to clients is transparent at the time they are quoted the price. (Enough said!)

4. Group Bookings

Travel agents can especially save money for clients traveling in groups. According to SmartFlyer’s CEO Mike Holtz in a Travel Market Report's "Here's Why You Should Use a Travel Agent Instead of Booking Online" article , “travel websites will only show the lowest fare available for four tickets. But an advisor might be able to find three seats at a fare hundreds of dollars less, with savings into the thousands of dollars.”

Travel agents, who are not governed by algorithms, have the experience and ability to analyze the options in front of them, filtering through them quickly in order to build group packages that maximize value and save money for their clients. Yet another reason to use a travel agent vs. booking online.

I know, I’m probably preaching to the choir. But what does this mean, and what does this add up to? Well, according to ASTA’s 2016 study, “Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money," a travel agent saves the traveler, on average, $452 per trip. 5

So if you count money and time, that brings up our tally of savings to $1,170+. Dang. Good job, travel agents.

But how do you articulate that to clients? How can you tell them that you’ll save them a ton of time and a nice wad of cash by booking their trip for them? They might look at you like you’re bonkers. But that’s okay, we’re here to help you with talking points with a snazzy infographic explaining the differences between using a travel agent vs. booking online.

How to Talk to Clients About Using a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online

Don’t you get tired when people express alarm at the existence of travel agents? Does it take a little restraint and energy not to roll your eyes when people say they can just book online? I know it does for me.

So we made an infographic that walks you through the data. You can print it out and post it above your office desk to use as talking points when your clients call and ask why they should use a travel agent vs. booking online. Better yet, just send it directly to your client and save yourself a lot of talking. 

Do you want it for a keepsake? You can go ahead and sign in below to download the infographic! You can even print it and use it to wallpaper your office, or better yet, post it on your own travel agency website!

This Is to Mention Nothing of Customer Service and Client Satisfaction

Travel agents save clients money, but the benefits of booking with a travel agent go way beyond. Travel agents also create high-value travel over OTAs because (the living, breathing, talented humans that they are) are able to advocate for clients when things go awry.

Travel Market Report published an article, " What We Did for Love: Tales of Travel Agents Who Went the Extra Mile, " in May 2019. It recounts stories of travel agents like Linda Schreiber, who pulled her bride out of a hurricane-riddled Cancun to the safety of home and rebooked the 70 other guests for the following month. Or Valerie Gossett's warm fuzzy in our Travel Agent Chatter podcast who coordinated with her BDM to have her client's father, a 90-year-old retired colonel, celebrated and honored for his service on his last cruise with his family.

What can an OTA do for a traveler who is unhappy with a hotel room, let alone stuck in the middle of a natural disaster? The answer? Not much, if anything at all.

Travel agents are able to leverage their relationships with vendors in order to provide the best customer service possible to travelers. So not only will the traveler save money, but they can travel with the peace of mind that a travel agent can help them out in a bind if they transfer hotels, switch rooms, or re-book a flight.

In the same ASTA study referenced earlier, it was documented that “ 63% of consumers polled said using an agent makes their overall trip experience better.” So not only will travel agents save travelers time, money and stress during the planning and booking process—they’ll also help create a more satisfying and relaxing travel experience during the trip itself . . . and that, my friend, is the entire purpose of a vacation.

Now Go Tell Your Clients (and Friends, and Travel Agent Naysayers)

Nothing speaks louder than data, right? Go let those skeptics know. If you don’t want to go on a monologue about the value of travel agents, just direct them to the infographic, and save your breath (and sanity).

What are some other ways you help save clients time and money? How do you pitch your value to clients? I want to hear about it in the comment section below!

[This blog was originally published in Oct. 2017. We periodically update this article with new data as it becomes available.]

  • Source: ASTA’s 2023 March Consumer Research Headlines ↩
  • As of 2022, this study has not been republished with more current numbers. ↩
  • Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics ↩
  • Source: Wired article, "Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains" ↩
  • Source: Travel Market Report, "Why Consumers Don't Use Travel Agents" ↩

About the Author

Mary Stein - Host Agency Reviews

Mary Stein has been working as a writer and editor for Host Agency Reviews since 2016. She loves supporting travel advisors on their entrepreneurial journey and is inspired by their passion, tenacity, and creativity. Mary is also a mom, dog lover, fiction writer, hiker, and a Great British Bake Off superfan.

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Is It More Expensive To Book Flights With a Travel Agent?

Is It More Expensive To Book Flights With a Travel Agent?

Budgeting for a trip can be far trickier than it initially seems. In addition to hotels, rental cars, food, souvenirs, and event tickets, there’s also transportation to consider. And if you’re hoping to lower your overall vacation costs, your airline tickets are a great place to start.

It’s more expensive to book flights with a travel agent than to book online from home. That’s because travel agents typically charge for their services, even booking a flight on your behalf. Still, an agent’s services could be worthwhile for some travelers hoping to avoid stressful vacation planning.

Figuring out your travel itinerary can be stressful and challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with your destination. Booking your flight with a travel agent could be an excellent alternative to booking from home, but is it more expensive to book flights with a travel agent? Let’s find out!

What Factors Influence Flight Prices?

The factors that influence flight prices include the seat type, arrival and departure times, flight duration, airport size, and the time of the year.

For example, if you’d like to fly first class to a remote destination during a busy time of the year, you’ll likely pay more than someone traveling in economy seats during the off-season .

Let’s go over each of the factors below.

Most flights offer several different types of seat classes or types. The most affordable of these is often called Economy (or Coach), while the priciest airline classes are often Club, Business, or First Class. As you might expect, each airline class comes with specific perks.

If you’re determined to keep your travel costs low, you might happily choose a budget seat that allows for just enough leg space and a mid-flight snack. But if you’d rather experience the best service your airline has to offer, you could spend extra to upgrade to a better seat in the sky.

Of course, seating type isn’t the only aspect to consider when budgeting for a flight. It’s also wise to consider your flight’s arrival and departure times. After all, flights that fall within the standard nine-to-five range can be far pricier than red-eye flights.

Arrival and Departure Times

Did you know that your flight’s arrival and departure time can affect the price of the ticket? If you’ve ever been amazed at the low cost of a late-night flight, you might be familiar with the concept.

Generally, people prefer to travel during the waking hours of the day. The demand for daytime flights is far higher than the demand for pre-dawn or late-night options. Consequently, if you’re comfortable with arriving at the airport very late or very early, you may be able to reduce the overall cost of your airfare.

In addition, there may be good and bad times of the day to book your flight. So before you start browsing for flights or contacting your local travel agent, be sure to double-check your flight and booking times.

Flight Duration

This factor is relatively straightforward. The longer your flight, the more jet fuel your plane needs to stay in the air. Additionally, longer flights tend to offer comprehensive meal services. As such, international or lengthy flights tend to cost a little more than shorter flights .

Airport Size

Are you flying into or away from a remote, regional airport? If so, you can expect to spend more than those utilizing larger, international airports. That’s because smaller airports in challenging locations tend to have few operating airlines—if any.

This means that pilots can charge far more for their services, knowing that they’re often the only option for some passengers. Additionally, some regional airports enforce punitive charges that make it challenging for pilots to lower airfare prices.

Time of the Year

In addition to the time of the day, the time of the year can significantly impact your flight cost. If you’ve ever tried to catch an affordable last-minute flight around Christmas or New Year’s, you’ll probably have a good idea of just how important it is to time your flight booking.

Be sure to brush up on some of the most expensive days to fly , and if you’re traveling to a new destination, take the time to research any upcoming holidays or festivals. Doing so could help you save a little money on that airfare.

How Much Does It Cost To Book Flights Yourself?

The cost to book flights yourself varies depending on your chosen route. For example, you could contact a specific airline and purchase airfare directly through them or through a third-party aggregator. True airfare costs vary based on dates of travel, airports utilized, seat preferences, and airline.

Of course, you could also choose to use one of the many travel fare aggregators, like Expedia, Hotwire, and KAYAK. But which is the most affordable option? We designed a handful of hypothetical travel plans and tested them to find out.

Travel Fare Aggregators

If you decide to go without a travel agent, you’ll likely end up using a travel fare aggregator to find an affordable flight. These can be useful in finding low-cost flights, as they typically show all available flights for your specific dates and destination versus having to search each airline individually.

Still, some aggregators are more capable than others. After testing several hypothetical routes, we found that Google Flights had the best prices on the best possible flights. While travel fare behemoths like KAYAK and Priceline had some super-low fares, they were for hellish multi-change flights with 12-hour layovers.

In terms of non-stop (or minimal-stop) routes and low prices, Google Flights slightly outdid the competition. Still, a flight is only the first step toward a vacation or business trip. After that, you’ll need to consider lodgings, food, transport, and recreation.

If you’re not sure how to plan a trip for yourself, or you feel stressed out each time you consider looking for flights and hotels, you could entrust your time away to a travel agent. However, booking with a travel agent does pose some potential drawbacks.

Is It More Expensive To Book Through a Travel Agent?

The cost to book a flight with a travel agent varies, often depending on the precise services you need. For example, if you only want a travel agent to book a flight for you, you might pay an agent fee of about $40 in addition to the cost of your ticket. This fee is to reimburse them for their time searching, booking, and managing your flight.

When you use a travel agent, they don’t just book the flight and leave. They also help you make the right decisions, know how to find the best rates, and then keep an eye on the flights for any changes or problems. If your flight is canceled or you get bumped, they are also there to help get you back on track. The extra fees can be well worth it to have the extra expertise and support.

If you’d like a travel agent to book your flight, reserve a hotel room for you, and create a jam-packed itinerary on your behalf, you’re looking at a slightly steeper agent fee as this would take them far more time to plan and book.

Still, no matter what services you opt for, one thing is evident: Booking flights with a travel agent is almost always more expensive than booking online from home. However, booking through a travel agent could be the better option if you’d like help choosing a flight or hotel.

A travel agent can also recommend local attractions and restaurants to help guide you through your destination comfortably. This kind of peace of mind could be the perfect way to kickstart your vacation, so it might be worthwhile to consider using an agent’s services.

Booking flights with a travel agent is more expensive than booking with a travel fare app or website. That’s because travel agents charge more for their services than travel fare aggregator websites.

The most straightforward and affordable option for travelers might be Google Flights. But that doesn’t mean booking through a travel agent is a bad idea or that it’s unaffordable. On the contrary, these professionals can book flights for you and plan your vacation for you. As such, booking with a travel agent provides a little extra peace of mind.

  • Forbes: What’s The Difference Between Business and First Class?
  • Google: Flights
  • Reader’s Digest: Here’s the Most Expensive Days to Fly
  • Southern Living: This Is the Cheapest Time of Day To Book a Flight

are travel agents more expensive than online

Linda Jones

Linda Jones is a professional travel advisor, author of Travel Agent Secrets and The Ultimate Travel Planner + Journal, and founder of Crafted Travel Company. She has helped thousands of people plan better vacations and travel more.

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Is it better to book a cruise through a travel agent? We say yes

Fran Golden

Going online to book an airline ticket or hotel stay is a familiar and fairly easy transaction. When you book a cruise, however — particularly your first cruise — you might want to reconsider the impulse to handle the transaction yourself through a cruise line website or an online advertiser with cheap prices. This DIY approach might not be the best way to find your dream vacation at sea.

In reality, it's not that simple to book a cruise. You will likely run into a lot of questions to which you have no ready answer.

That's where specialized cruise travel agents come into play. Their expertise can help you avoid mistakes, whether you are a first-timer or a repeat cruiser checking out a brand you have not tried before.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Why you should book through a cruise travel agent

You should consider booking a cruise through a travel agent because a knowledgeable agent can help you understand the nuances of a cruise purchase and help you make the best decisions for your vacation preferences.

When you book a cruise, you are making a vacation decision that goes way beyond a flight or hotel nights. Which ship you choose determines your dining and evening entertainment choices for the duration of your vacation. Which itinerary you choose impacts which destinations you'll visit and which shoreside activities will be available to you. It can be overwhelming to evaluate the options on your own if you've never cruised before.

are travel agents more expensive than online

In addition, cruise fares can be hard to understand and compare. You might, for instance, see a fare listed online without the port charges, taxes and fees, which you only see after you give your personal details.

Plus, the price of your cruise includes accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities — and in some cases drinks, tips, shore excursions, Wi-Fi and other extras. There's a lot bundled into some fares and not as much with others. A travel agent can help you determine what your cruise fare gets you. The cheapest base cruise fare does not always provide the best value or best overall vacation deal.

Related: 4 scenarios when you should use a travel agent

You aren't just booking general passage on a ship, either, as you will be asked to pick a specific cabin and when you prefer to dine. Making a mistake in these categories can ruin your cruise experience, as there are such thing as "bad" cabins and dining times (think noisy or claustrophobic cabins, dinner at 8 p.m. with cranky children, etc.).

With cruises, you typically don't pay for your whole vacation upfront but rather put down a deposit, with final payment due at a later date. A cruise travel agent can ensure you don't miss any due dates.

Remember, you might be a DIY type when booking airlines and hotels, but booking a cruise is more complex. If you enjoy doing your own research, focus on what to do and see in the ports of call. Read about different ships, cruise lines and itineraries. However, when it comes to booking the cruise, we recommend you still contact a travel agent who specializes in cruises to help you learn a few tips and avoid any rookie mistakes.

Travel agents can get better deals on cruises

If you're concerned that working with an agent will make your cruise more expensive, don't be. Cruise travel agents receive the bulk of their income via commission from the cruise lines. Their service to you is usually free, though some might charge first-time clients a minimal fee. It's worth it.

In addition to sharing their expertise, the agent may have negotiated group space at lower rates with the cruise line, which could save you money on the cruise fare. The agent might also have first access to sale prices because the cruise lines notify their agent partners and loyalty club members first before they announce a sale to the public.

Related: 6 ways to get a deal on a cruise

Some cruise travel agents even throw in booking perks , such as a complimentary bottle of Champagne, awaiting your arrival in your cabin.

How to find a travel agent for a cruise

Cruise lines prefer that you use a travel agent rather than going online and booking directly. They have small in-house reservation teams, and when you have a question while making a booking, good luck in getting an expert on the phone in a timely manner.

Companies such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line provide online directories to help you find an experienced cruise travel agent near you.

are travel agents more expensive than online

You can also find experienced and certified cruise travel agents through CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association , which is the industry's main marketing group. Asking friends who have cruised to recommend a travel agent is another good idea.

Related: 5 unexpected places that sell cruises

You might get more personalized care from smaller agencies than from the huge online agencies, though websites such as icruise.com, Cruise.com and Cruise411.com also have experienced cruise agents. These larger online travel agencies can be a good option for those who prefer to make decisions and ask questions via chat. Just make sure you get the name and phone number of the representative for any follow-up questions.

Questions to ask a cruise travel agent

In choosing a cruise travel agent, you will want to tap into the person's specific expertise about the cruise line and ship you are considering. Anyone can read a ship deck plan outlining ship spaces (which you can find online), but you are looking for people who really know their stuff.

Look for travel agencies that are cruise-only or a home-based agent who specializes in cruises. If you are using a full-service travel agency, ask for the cruise desk.

Here are some questions to ask a travel agent to determine their expertise:

  • How often do you cruise?
  • Have you cruised on the line I am considering?
  • Have you cruised on the ship that I am considering, or do you have clients who have cruised that ship and provided a review of their vacation?
  • Do you have firsthand knowledge about the cruise destination? The itinerary?

You will also want to ask the travel agent if they have a preferred relationship or negotiated agreement with any specific lines that could lead to special perks for you.

Be aware that not all agents work with all cruise lines; some represent only a few preferred suppliers or specialize in higher-end cruises. They get bigger commissions from their preferred lines.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware if the agent seems to be putting you off the line you were originally considering, as this could be the reason. On the plus side, an agent who is a preferred supplier might have negotiated rates with the cruise line and be able to call in favors, such as that bottle of Champagne or a cabin upgrade .

are travel agents more expensive than online

You should also ask if the travel agency offers 24/7 assistance (usually an 800 number) in case you have last-minute questions or something goes wrong before or during your trip.

The cruise travel agent should have questions for you as well, to better understand your dream vacation desires. If you are calling a cruise agency for the first time, the agent should be interviewing you as much as you are interviewing him or her. The agent should be focused on helping you choose the cruise line , ship and cabin that is right for you. Making the correct choices is very important to your overall cruise experience.

Bottom line

Booking a cruise is a complex enterprise. A cruise travel agent will guide you through choosing your cabin and dining times, deposits and final payment, and options for shore excursions and specialty dining. If you need to cancel the trip, the agent will also help you through the refund process. You'll have a lot less stress before and during your vacation if you book with an experienced agent.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise
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  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin

are travel agents more expensive than online

Is There a Drawback to Using a Travel Agent for Your Next Trip?

N ow that summer is getting closer, you may be in the process of planning your big vacation for the year. And in that regard, you have options. You could do your planning on your own, or you could turn to a travel agent for help.

TravelAge West recently cited a survey by IBS Software showing that travel agent use is on the rise. And 38% of millennials and Gen Zers are opting to use travel agents as opposed to booking their vacations digitally.

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You may be inclined to use a travel agent for your next vacation. But should you?

The benefits of using a travel agent

Travel agents have the potential to help you save money . For example, a travel agent might manage to snag you a more favorable room rate at a hotel they have a relationship with. They might also manage to score you a credit you can use on your next cruise for things like drinks.

Plus, when you use the services of a travel agent, they're the ones in charge of worrying about all the details. They can also, in some cases, help you map out an itinerary that helps you make the most of your destination. And they might know things about your destination that you don't, allowing you to get off the beaten path and enjoy a meaningful trip.

The best part about using a travel agent? Generally, their services are free. Because of this, you might assume that using a travel agent is really a no-brainer. But there could be some hidden drawbacks.

The pitfalls of using a travel agent

In many situations, it makes sense to use a travel agent. But there are some drawbacks to be aware of.

For one thing, booking a trip through a travel agent might cost you more if that agent steers you toward a more expensive property. They may be more inclined to do this if it results in a larger commission for them.

So for example, let's say you're traveling to Aruba and are looking at a resort that normally costs $450 a night. Your travel agent may be able to get you in at $400 a night, which seems like a great deal. But there may be another comparable resort down the road that only charges $375 a night to begin with. Your travel agent, however, may not recommend that resort if it results in a lower commission for them.

Also, you may have been banking credit card reward points for an upcoming trip. But a travel agent may not be able to help you redeem those points. In that case, rather than getting a portion of your trip for free, you're paying out of pocket in full.

Finally, some travel agents are more responsive than others. If you get stuck with someone who's not so great at getting back to you, you may find that using a travel agent is an overwhelmingly frustrating experience.

What should you do?

If you're taking a pretty straightforward trip and are visiting a destination you've been to before, then you may decide to book your plans solo, especially if you have credit card rewards you want to cash in. Remember, too, that you may be able to eke out some savings during your trip by using a travel rewards credit card when dining out or booking activities.

On the other hand, if you're traveling someplace new and you don't want to stress over the details, then it could be wise to use a travel agent. You may want to get recommendations so you don't get stuck with someone who's tough to reach.

Also, if you decide to use a travel agent, be clear about your budget from the start. If you can't swing more than $4,000 for your vacation, say so. That way, your travel agent hopefully won't push you to book plans that are beyond what you can afford.

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Is There a Drawback to Using a Travel Agent for Your Next Trip?

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Travel agent vs do it yourself

With so many websites offering discount holiday bookings, do you even need a travel agent.

booking a holiday online vs using a travel agent

We wanted to compare travel agents with DIY travel bookings to see which option saved the most money and uncovered the best holiday deals. 

So we set up three hypothetical trips to one of the most popular holiday destinations for Australians – Bali – and approached travel agents as would-be travellers looking for prices.

Our three types of hypothetical holiday-maker are: 

  • a couple wanting a luxury romantic escape
  • a solo traveller seeking adventure
  • parents with young children needing some time out.

As well as reaching our own verdict, we also checked in with the travel agents to get their take on people arranging their own trips.

On this page:

Our verdict

Scenario 1: luxury romantic escape, scenario 2: solo traveller, scenario 3: family holiday, what the travel agents say, your rights and travel agents.

It may take more time to DIY your holiday, depending on how computer savvy you are, but it can lead to huge savings.

Doing it yourself

Booking holidays ourselves worked out cheaper than using an agent in all three scenarios. The DIY booking for the luxury holiday saved a massive $2451, more than a third less than the agent's price. 

In most cases it was pretty quick and easy to make bookings online, although this was because we knew exactly what we were looking for and the itineraries were fairly simple. 

Using a travel agent

If you didn't know what to look for, travel agents' suggestions and advice could save hours of research by quickly narrowing down the endless options of hotels and tour packages available in Bali. 

Each agent was knowledgeable about the destination and happy to tweak the itinerary according to our preferences.

Booking holidays ourselves worked out cheaper than using an agent in all three scenarios

Booking through an agent also came with a comforting certainty that all the details were correct, whereas when booking online we had to keep double checking that dates and details all lined up. This would become even more laborious with more complex itineraries.

Combined approach

If you want the best of both worlds, you can always get an itinerary and quote from an agent, do your own search for the cheapest prices online, and then ask the agent to match or beat the prices you've found (although not all offer a 'price beat' guarantee). At the very least, it's worthwhile quickly checking the hotel's and airline's own websites in case they're offering a significantly lower price than the agent. 

It's also worth looking at flights with other airlines. Although this introduces many more variables, changing airlines can result in big savings. But make sure you're aware of the airline's safety record and track record for delays and cancellations. 

What about hotel comparison sites?

We checked at least one hotel price comparison website for each itinerary, but their price always came in higher than both the agent's quote and the hotel's own website.

Booking a romantic luxury escape ourselves rather than through an agent saved us the most out of the three scenarios. Credit: themulia.com

7 nights' accommodation at The Mulia in a Baron Garden View Suite, including breakfast, flights and airport transfers.

We presented as a couple wanting to stay somewhere luxurious on a total budget of $7000. 

Travel agent

The travel agent responded to our online enquiry within a couple of hours, suggesting two resorts: Anantara Uluwatu and The Mulia. 

We chose The Mulia in Nusa Dua and the agent quickly sent through a package quote just under budget at $6887. 

The package included seven nights' accommodation with breakfast, airport transfers and return Qantas flights, as well as an add-on product ($49 per person) giving extra benefits and services such as price-drop protection. 

We asked for the add-on product to be removed and for a price breakdown. The agent sent through a revised quote for $6789, but said a price breakdown wasn't possible.

  • Seven nights in The Baron Garden View Suite at The Mulia including breakfast, airport transfers and Qantas flights 
  • Total: $6789

The Mulia's own website offers hotel and flight packages, so we checked this option first. 

A package including the same room (with breakfast, but no airport transfers) and return flights with Garuda Indonesia airline cost $6113 – significantly less than the agent's quote. We emailed the hotel about adding transfers to this package and were told it would cost $84 return (800,000 in Indonesian rupiah, or IDR), taking the total price of the package to $6197.

We then looked at booking the room and flights separately. The Mulia website offered seven nights' accommodation in the Baron Garden View Suite including breakfast and transfers for $3045 (IDR 29,148,000).

We then found the same return Qantas flights for $1293 using a price comparison site. Combined with the accommodation and transfers booked directly through The Mulia website, the flights took the total DIY package cost to just $4338, saving a whopping $2451 on the travel agent's quote. 

  • Seven nights in The Baron Garden View Suite at The Mulia including breakfast and transfers – $3045
  • Qantas flights – $1293
  • Total: $4338

Result: DIY is $2451 (36%) cheaper

Booking a solo trip with adventure activities was straightforward without the help of a travel agent.

9-day Intro Travel Bali Intro tour with activities, accommodation and flights, plus one extra night's stay in Bali and airport transfer.

The second enquiry was for a solo traveller who had a budget of $3000. We asked for adventure activities and the chance to meet other solo travellers.

The agent asked some questions about what kind of activities and experiences we were looking for before talking us through three different tour packages. 

We chose the Bali Intro tour and the agent sent through a quote several hours later for $2204, which included the tour (eight nights' accommodation, one-way airport transfer, eight meals and activities), return flights with Virgin, two nights' stay in a hotel before the tour and one night after it. 

After some discussion about the extra accommodation, we decided to remove the two-night stay before the tour but keep the post-tour stay, as the agent recommended allowing plenty of time to return to the main island for the flight the next day. 

The revised quote was well under budget at $1984. A $2 charity donation was added to the bill, which the agent hadn't mentioned.

  • Bali Intro tour – $1099
  • Flights – $797
  • Departure transfer – $35
  • Post-tour hotel – $51
  • Charity donation – $2
  • Total: $1984

Booking the same holiday online was straightforward. We booked the Bali Intro tour directly through the company's website for the same price ($1099). Using Virgin's own site, we found the same flights for $777. The Virgin flights were also available on a flight comparison site for $723. Flying with Jetstar on the same dates would have cost $629, including 20kg of luggage, entertainment and meals.

The post-tour hotel (with breakfast) was available on Agoda for $54, $3 more than quoted by the agent. We emailed the hotel and were told an airport transfer would cost $21 (IDR 200,000).

Overall, it cost $181 more to book through the agent. And although some people use agents for the perceived convenience, all the emails back and forth actually ended up taking up more time than the DIY option.

  • Flights – $629 (Jetstar)
  • Departure transfer – $21
  • Post-tour hotel – $54 
  • Total: $1803

Result: DIY is $181 (9%) cheaper

We saved $585 by booking a Bali family holiday ourselves. Credit: booking.com

9 nights at Bali Mandira Beach Resort and Spa including breakfast, flights and transfers.

The third enquiry was for a family of four (two adults, a five year-old and a three year-old) with a budget of $7000. We said we wanted a family-friendly resort that had child-minding or kids' club facilities.

The travel agent responded to our online enquiry with two flight options and detailed information on three resorts, along with pricing for each package. 

We chose the Bali Mandira Beach Resort and Spa and flights on Malindo Air, which the agent said was $350 cheaper than flying with Garuda. 

The agent sent through a package including return Malindo Air flights (with 20kg baggage per person but no meals), nine nights at the Bali Mandira in a Superior Room with breakfast, and two-way airport transfers – all for a total of $6570. 

The accommodation came with a number of extras or 'value adds', including a 10% discount at an on-site restaurant, a half-price kids' meal at a buffet and theme dinner, free meals for kids when dining with their parents from the à la carte menu at the main restaurant, and  $11 spa credit for each adult. The agent said they weren't able to break down the package pricing.

  • Nine nights at Bali Mandira Beach Resort and Spa including breakfast, flights and transfers
  • Total $6570

We found the same room on the hotel's website including breakfast and return airport transfers for $3349. This room also came with some value adds: 10% discount at an on-site restaurant, 15% discount at the main restaurant, 10% spa discount for one treatment, and 20% discount for pre-booked signature spa treatments. 

The flights on Malindo Air's website cost $3481, which, combined with the accommodation found on the Bali Mandira's website, would take the total package to $6830 – higher than the agent's quote. But flights on the same dates with Jetstar (with 20kgs luggage, no meals) cost $2636, although the outbound flight arrived in Bali at 9pm rather than 4.50pm, which might be less convenient for people with young children. The total for the DIY package with Jetstar flights was $5985.

  • Nine nights at Bali Mandira Beach Resort and Spa including buffet breakfast and transfers – $3349
  • Return flights – $2636 (Jetstar)
  • Total: $5985

Result: DIY is $585 (9%) cheaper

A professional travel agent can make your entire experience hassle free.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) says booking with an ATAS (AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme) accredited travel agent has many benefits.

Professional and personal travel specialists  

A professional travel agent is trained to make your entire experience – from start to end – hassle free. They also tailor the itinerary to suit specific requests and find packages and products that suit your unique wants and needs. 

Customer advocacy 

If you experience a problem while travelling, your agent will act on your behalf, and is there to rectify any travel-related issues you encounter. 

Expert guidance  

Agents are trained destination and product experts and know how to sort through the myriad of travel information available. Their knowledge and network means they also have access to the best deals. 

Time saving

An agent has a world of travel information at their fingertips, saving you countless hours of online searching and frustration. 


Travel agents are a 'one-stop shop' that can handle every aspect of your travel – from booking airline tickets, ground transfers, tours and activities to arranging travel insurance. 

A personal touch 

A travel agent will ensure the accuracy of your booking details, advise with visa applications, assist with travel documentation, and provide valuable travel hints and tips.

In 2014 the Australian travel industry became deregulated as the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) was abolished, backed by industry and government. 

The TFC had ensured consumers were compensated when travel agents went broke, but under new rules travel agents no longer have to be licensed. It means you could be left stranded and out of pocket if a travel agent goes bust (although if you act fast, you can ask your bank for a credit card chargeback .) 

There's now only the voluntary Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS), run by the peak body Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), which vets travel agents to make sure they meet certain standards such as being reliable and properly trained. 

Stock images:  Getty, unless otherwise stated.

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    The bottom line. Generally speaking, booking online works out to be cheaper than using a travel agent, but only when you know what you want to do and your itinerary is fairly straightforward. While sometimes you'll have to fork out a service fee for a travel agent, you do often get 24/7 support during your trip, and that may be worth the cost ...

  7. Is it cheaper to book my holiday online or with a travel agent ...

    Two weeks in the Dominican Republic. Hays knocked £319 off a Dominican Republic holiday, making it just £50 more expensive than online instead of £369 more. Co-Op Travel took £285 off its original quote but was still £126 more than booking directly online with Tui (the tour operator). Even Tui itself wouldn't match its own online price.

  8. The pros and cons of using a travel agent: How much it really costs you

    Should you need to cancel a trip booked through a travel agent, you may also need to pay them a cancellation fee, on top of any fees charged by the airline or accommodation. Walker from Flight ...

  9. Travel Agent vs. Booking Online: What Is More Reliable?

    Cons Of Using Travel Agent. While travel agents do offer some unique advantages over booking online, they also have a few cons; check them out below: Not in complete control - While using a travel agent service may save you time, it also involves entrusting a 3rd party to book your trip. Using a travel agent may not be suitable if you like to ...

  10. The Complete Guide to Online Travel Agencies

    The Expedia Group is the largest online travel agency in the United States with 70 percent market share, according to travel data firm Phocuswright. Expedia Group operates Expedia.com, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Trivago, CheapTickets, Hotwire, Vrbo, and Travelocity. Priceline is a major competitor to Expedia, with global revenues larger than the ...

  11. What Are OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and Should You Book With ...

    Online travel agencies are companies that sell you flights, online. They act as a middleman between airlines and consumers, though their prices can often be cheaper than booking direct. Most people are familiar with top OTAs like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hopper, and Priceline. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller OTAs as well ...

  12. Are Travel Agents Worth It? What to Consider

    Travel agents, also known as travel advisors, plan trips for individuals and groups. This can include booking flights, rental cars, hotels, restaurants and tours as well as purchasing travel insurance, obtaining necessary visas for international travel and more.. A travel agent can coordinate your itinerary, from organizing multiple destinations to handling last-minute flight cancellations.

  13. Airlines vs. Online Travel Agencies: Which is better when you need to

    4. Online travel agencies allow you to earn both frequent flyer miles and OTA loyalty points. Some of the larger online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity) have their own loyalty programs that allow you to earn rewards to use toward free or discounted travel. Unlike hotel loyalty programs, frequent flyer programs allow you to ...

  14. Is it cheaper to hire a travel agent or book on your own? We looked

    When you book on your own, you could be locked in on the price. The biggest difference is time. According to Expedia, Americans spend nearly 23 hours on travel websites six weeks prior to booking ...

  15. Using a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online: An Infographic

    Well, according to ASTA's 2016 study, "Best of Both Worlds: Quantifying How Travel Agents Save Consumers Time and Money," a travel agent saves the traveler, on average, $452 per trip. 5. So if you count money and time, that brings up our tally of savings to $1,170+. Dang. Good job, travel agents.

  16. Should I book a flight through an online travel agent (OTA)?

    Europe's biggest budget airline, Ryanair, says some online travel agents are marking up charges on baggage by 60 per cent and on seats by 130 per cent. The chief executive, Michael O'Leary ...

  17. Why You Need A Travel Agent Now More Than Ever

    Saving you money: Many people associate travel advisors with being more expensive, and some do charge either hourly consulting rates or per service fees for things like booking airline tickets (on ...

  18. Is It More Expensive To Book Flights With a Travel Agent?

    Conclusion. Booking flights with a travel agent is more expensive than booking with a travel fare app or website. That's because travel agents charge more for their services than travel fare aggregator websites. The most straightforward and affordable option for travelers might be Google Flights. But that doesn't mean booking through a ...

  19. Online travel agent flight deals: why the price is almost ...

    New Which? research reveals booking a flight through some online travel agents (OTAs) can be more than £100 more expensive than booking direct with airlines, if you add in the cost of luggage and seats. ... Opodo is £6 more expensive. Once you add a 20kg hold bag, plus a standard seat on board, Opodo goes up by another £121 - compared with ...

  20. Cruise Travel Agent vs. Online Booking

    Travel Agent vs. Online Booking: Bottom Line. You should book your cruise with a travel agent if you're a first time cruiser, have a lot of special requests or want to get the best deals. At ...

  21. Is it better to book a cruise through a travel agent? We say yes

    Travel agents can get better deals on cruises. If you're concerned that working with an agent will make your cruise more expensive, don't be. Cruise travel agents receive the bulk of their income via commission from the cruise lines. Their service to you is usually free, though some might charge first-time clients a minimal fee.

  22. Is There a Drawback to Using a Travel Agent for Your Next Trip?

    The pitfalls of using a travel agent. In many situations, it makes sense to use a travel agent. But there are some drawbacks to be aware of. For one thing, booking a trip through a travel agent ...

  23. Why Booking Directly With Airlines Can Be More Expensive

    Between 2019 and 2021, ancillary fees as a percentage of total revenue for major U.S. airlines jumped six percentage points, from 16.1% to 22.2%, according to a report by IdeaWorksCompany, an ...

  24. Is There a Drawback to Using a Travel Agent for Your Next Trip?

    In many situations, it makes sense to use a travel agent. But there are some drawbacks to be aware of. For one thing, booking a trip through a travel agent might cost you more if that agent steers ...

  25. Travel agent vs do it yourself bookings

    The travel agent responded to our online enquiry within a couple of hours, suggesting two resorts: Anantara Uluwatu and The Mulia. ... $3 more than quoted by the agent. We emailed the hotel and were told an airport transfer would cost $21 (IDR 200,000). Overall, it cost $181 more to book through the agent. And although some people use agents ...

  26. Planning A Vacation? Here's Your 2024 Summer Travel ...

    Overall policy sales for the 2024 summer travel season are up this year, but there's a spike in sales for policies in August, which is typically the busiest time of the summer. "Sales are up more ...