| Hi Taylor:
I just talked to a friend who said he got a great deal through his
travel agent. My first thought was, "travel agents still exist?" I
guess they do, but do they actually offer better deals than what I
can find online? - Brian
Hi Brian: The internet, try as it might, has not yet destroyed
the travel agent industry. Online booking has, however, changed the
market in many ways, and this makes it a little tricky to answer your
question. Sometimes travel agents will save you money, other times
they will not. Here are some general points to think about when it
comes to this topic.
This was an early travel agent tactic that kept this profession
going as more airlines and hotels moved their services online.
When you book your flight, you tack on a rental car and a hotel
room and get all three things at a decent rate. Naturally, you
can find package deals on the internet as well, but those are
often between companies that have existing partnerships. It's
easier to get discounts on rental cars and hotel rooms than it
is airfare, and travel agents can occasionally swing deals without
having to work through a prearranged relationship.
2. Inventory. Sometimes you can't find cheap flights because
the online booking companies have already run through their inventory.
In this case, you might be able to work with a travel agent who
still has tickets available. More often than not, I find the best
deals online-it just depends on when and where you look. Still,
there are companies that swoop up tickets at the right time and
then sell them for less than the going rate, but more than what
was paid originally. Finding these companies can be tough, and
changing any flight details with them is almost impossible. Nevertheless,
when you have very specific travel needs that Kayak or Expedia
aren't meeting, it's possible a travel agent will be able to help.
3. Forthright. Booking online, when you can't really ask
questions and have to deal with lots of fine print, can end up
costing a lot of extra money by way of hidden fees. It's possible
your friend "got a great deal" because he paid the same price
as everyone else but avoided some of those hidden charges, or
at least knew about them ahead of time. I'm not saying every travel
agent is 100% honest, but you can at least ask questions and feel
like you have control over the process. For some, that's enough
to feel like great savings were achieved.
| Travel agents
exist! They exist because they provide a service, and some people
continue to benefit from those services. If you're planning a summer
vacation, try calling a travel agent and see what works best for you.
Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not
an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific
securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve
risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to
first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional
before implementing any strategy discussed herein. To submit a question
to be answered in this column, please send it via email to Question@GoFarWithKovar.com,
or via USPS to Taylor Kovar, 415 S 1st St, Suite 300, Lufkin, TX 75901.