This is one of the #1 questions I get asked. It isn’t a simple YES or NO answer; however, if pressed, I say that no, it shouldn’t cost you more. If it does, the cost is not significant and you get the benefit of someone who will be there for you before, during and after your trip. If you remain loyal to your travel advisor, you have a lifelong advocate in your corner to assist in making sure your travels are as perfect as they can possibly be.
The longer answer to this question is this:
- You must compare apples to apples. When answering this question, many people want to compare an apple to an orange. You can’t do that. When comparing an apple to an apple, a travel advisor can typically give the same price as what you see online.
- Let me give you an example: When you are looking for a cruise, you will see pricing for the lowest cabin category available. There are many categories but the cruise websites only show you the lowest, unless you start digging deep on the website. You will see the price in bold letters and you think: “That’s it, what a deal!” However, that price doesn’t include the taxes. It doesn’t include the gratuities you are required to pay before you get off the ship. It doesn’t include the shore excursions, the beverage costs or the specialty dining you might want.
- Let’s say you really are watching your budget so you’ve decided to stay in an interior cabin. You see the lowest price and it is just what you want. If you call a travel advisor and ask for that same cabin, you can get the same price from any honest travel advisor. A true apple-to-apple comparison. However, the travel advisor will likely give you a higher priced cabin. So many people complain that the travel advisor is trying to upsell them. Trying to make more money. That really isn’t the reason. The reason is because the cabin that looks like such a “great deal” is at the front of the ship (bad for motion sickness), in the bowels of the ship (Deck 1 or 2 where you are sure to hear engine noise) and has 2 beds that are bunk bed style (not good for a romantic vacation). The travel advisor knows this isn’t what you really envision for your perfect vacation. So, the travel advisor gives you what they know you will be happy with and they include all the hidden fees so you know what the real price is. So, in this example, it does cost more to use the travel advisor. But look what you get. Look what you avoided. Won’t you be happier that you paid a bit more to get the orange than to take the apple?
- In addition, you must compare the quality of the fruit. The problem is: most people, when answering this question, want to compare a rotted apple to a beautiful, perfectly tasting, orange. You will pay less for the rotted apple. You may, in fact, get a “great deal” on the spoiled fruit.
But what you really want is to taste that perfect orange and to do that, it costs more. However, this isn’t the fault of the grocer who sells the fruit. It is just a fact that when you purchase the apple, you get what you pay for.
- Many times people don’t realize they are getting the rotten apple. I blame online travel sites and slick marketing campaigns for this. It isn’t the consumer’s fault. We are all bombarded with slick marketing campaigns. Those campaigns with sales that
- “end in 24 hours”, or
- those hotels rooms that have “78 people looking in the last hour and only 1 room left”, or
- that airline that has “$59 seats” but when you go to look, you can’t find anything under $450 for the place you really want to go.
- If you follow these things closely, you find that the sale ending in 24 hours is typically replaced with another very similar sale. That hotel room you looked at suddenly has 2 rooms available the next day. The $59 airline ticket is really on one seat, for one flight between a short distance and has no relevance to what your price might be. It is all slick marketing, folks! It is marketing that is trying to make you click that computer button to “purchase now” and hand over your credit card number. A good travel advisor slows down that process so you understand what you are buying. What the terms and conditions of the purchase are so you aren’t surprised at the $350 fee when you need to change a flight because your kid just won his first playoff game and is now in the State finals. You get my point, I think. Travel advisors help you buy the beautiful, delicious orange which is what you are really wanting. So yes, it may cost more but it isn’t because the travel advisor cost more. It is because the trip of a lifetime you dream of costs more than what the marketers want you to believe.
- BOTTOM LINE: The trip itself could cost you more when using a travel advisor but ONLY because a travel advisor steers you toward a trip that is in line with what you envision for your vacation.
The travel advisor is truly on your side. Sure, we all need to make a living and we do get paid commissions when you travel. But, for some reason, there is a segment of the population that places a travel advisor in the category of the Bernie Madoff’s of the world. Someone who doesn’t care about them and is only out to make an easy buck. I know a lot of travel advisors and this is far from the truth and our income is not easily earned. Travel advisors are like your mom. They stay up at night worrying about your trip. They monitor your flight to see if it is on time. They send you reminders so you don’t miss a final payment or a change in the itinerary. When you are on the trip and you get delayed for 7 hours in an airport, they may call to say “go buy entry into the airport lounge and I’ll cover that cost for you as my gift to you”. Travel advisors may not be perfect and travel certainly isn’t perfect. But we are on your side.