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Not every traveler uses a travel agent to book their trips. Instead, they try to book the entire thing on their own, convinced that they will save money or time, or even get a better deal than a travel agent will get. Some do. Others, unfortunately, make mistakes.
“The one mistake customers make when booking their own travel is not doing enough homework,” said Greg Antonelle, managing director of MickeyTravels, LLC. “Customers are simply not aware of certain things that can influence their vacation. What is the weather like that time of year? For example, Bermuda in September could be a challenge due to hurricanes.”
When her customers proudly tell her that they got a cheaper flight than what she offered, Andrea Crowther cringes. “In one situation, we realized that they would lose two entire days to travel, for a difference of $25 a person,” she said. “They also forget that when traveling in foreign countries, the transfer companies want to get you to the airport at least two hours before a flight, which is not great if your flight departs at 7 a.m.”
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Travelers want a good deal, but Pam Walker, affiliate of Travel Experts, Walker Adventures, LTD says that they really don’t want to read the small print. “Then, they often book the wrong dates and then surprise, surprise.”
Alex Dalton, Affiliate of Travel Experts, agrees. “The biggest mistakes I find people make when they do their own travel is 9 times out of 10 they got their dates wrong,” he said. “Usually this entails one spouse telling the other spouse incorrect information and the spouse who is booking the travel uses the incorrect dates or people that book travel late at night aren’t paying attention to the dates and put in the wrong ones. This can always be fixed by a travel agent if the agent booked the ticket and the mistake is caught early.”
R. D. Gavel, Affiliate of Travel Experts, Travel Repertoire says that travelers working on their own don’t ask the right questions. “The challenge for those making arrangements on their own is deciding what to search for and identifying what’s reliable,” said Gavel. “There is an overwhelming amount of information available to the consumer. Some of it is useful, but a great deal is copied and pasted from one source to another, outdated, inaccurate, or reflective of the opinions of strangers. More importantly, superior options may be overlooked because finding the best answers requires knowing which questions to ask before beginning any research.”
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Karen J. La Rosa of LaRosa Works, Sicily Travel & Tourism says that clients who book their own arrangements will read something online that sounds intriguing but doesn’t include all of the facts. They miss the idea of idea of working with a specialist. “By insisting on a certain hotel or place, they limit the specialist’s ability to choose what might work better or even wow more,” she said. “When discussing Sicily in particular, clients often misjudge distance. For example, 25 miles in Sicily might be a much longer drive than in the U.S. because of the infrastructure. Timing is something about which a specialist knows.”
Antonelle says that one of the most important reasons that travelers should work with an agent is perks. “For example, are there any perks you can get, such as an on-board credit, by booking a cruise with a travel agency?” he said. “Most good travel agencies will continuously monitor for discounts after a vacation is booked. If a promotion such as free dining is released after the vacation is booked, the travel agent will apply that to the vacation. Sadly, when booking on their own, the customer is often unaware of this promotion and, therefore, doesn't reap the benefits.”