I recently purchased an airline ticket through unconventional means for myself: I worked with a ticketing agent.
In general, I do all of my travel planning online as I’m privy to many different resources that I like, which have worked well for me in the past. This time around, I chose to use an agent because I enrolled in a travel rewards program and in order to get credited rewards points, I needed to book my travel through the company. No problem. It saved me time, though not money per se. I paid the same amount for my flight, purchasing through the ticketing agent, as I would’ve if I had purchased on my own.
What I got in return was 5 rewards points per dollar. This will come in handy as I cash in my points for free travel.
THE INTERNET’S HAND IN TRADITIONAL TRAVEL PLANNING
Generally speaking, do you use a travel agent or do you do all of your planning yourself? Here are a few popular reasons why people decide to use a travel specialist:
- group travel
- foreign travel
- a new destination
- limited time
The internet has empowered today’s traveler to easily and quickly plan a trip if they know exactly where to go to get the services that they need. The availability of this information motivates travelers to bypass the travel agent or a concierge service, opting to do all of the work themselves.
Review sites, price comparison sites and search portals are a dime a dozen. Honestly, I can’t tell you who has a leg up or what separates many of them. I have my personal preferences but I think it’s mainly because I’ve been using them the longest.
THE VALUE OF TRAVEL PLANNERS
However, trip planners and travel agents offer more value than simply booking hotels, tours and flights. Many planners and agents offer the value of their personal experience in a destination or with a particular property or tour company.
The sheer convenience of having someone navigate everything and handle problems that may arise would seem like reason enough to use a specialist each and every time we travel. So why don’t we? If I had to take a stab at it, the main reason would be cost. For many people, saving money is a definitive motivation for doing things themselves. In addition, many avid travelers enjoy the process of trip planning, no matter how time-consuming it may be. The remedy to the latter point is to just start planning earlier or visit sites that have “last-minute” booking options.
I have to admit that I am one of those who enjoys the hands-on process. On the flip side, I have no problem paying for convenience, especially if it’s to a foreign country or if I’m planning a group trip. Time is money and if it’s going to cost me too much time, then I’ll outsource that activity.
The question you have to ask yourself is what’s your time worth?
A version of this article originally appeared on EzineArticles.