There was an article in Women’s Day referencing the aforementioned title and it struck a cord with me and many other travel industry professionals. We talked about it in great length on The Traveling Eye last week and I wanted to again share my thoughts.
While I’m not a traditional Travel Agent, I still provide travel services. I also have friends who are travel agents and when I shared this with them, they too were appalled as were so many others.
Now, Women’s Day says that the article was to give their readers insight on how to save on travel but every point was supported with why a travel agent wouldn’t share this information with you and the constant reason was for commission. I think this takes a stab at the integrity of the travel agent rather than provide the consumer useful information unless the goal is to have the consumer not trust or use a travel agent.
Travel agents like many other professionals are about trust and building a relationship. I don’t think any travel professional who wants to stay in business and retain clients would base their professional advice solely on commission. The mere fact that you use a travel agent means commission is earned or shall I say a living is earned from their their professional services. We highly respect our services, what we do and our clients, so if that all rested on commission earned on one sale, we wouldn’t be in business very long. Consumers are too smart for that!
Here are some of the points that I’d like to address:
3. They may not have been to the hotel or on the cruise ship they’re recommending.
Some pros may fib about their travels to close a sale. “Agents untruthfully telling clients that they’ve sailed on a particular cruise ship because it’s more expensive or stayed at a certain pricier resort is common,” says Cambridge. Stone explains that reputable agencies encourage their employees to take “familiarization (FAM) trips” which allow the agent to learn about a destination at a deeply discounted rate. She suggests asking about recent FAM trips your agent’s taken to learn which destinations and accommodations she truly knows well.
I can’t speak for every single travel agent but this goes back to integrity and majority of us have it. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would think that it is humanly possible to have stayed in every hotel or experienced every cruise ship. I know it states some pros, but come on, we know it is OK to say I haven’t stayed there or been on that cruise. However, we can still make recommendations based on education and research.
5. Travel insurance may not be necessary.
Some travel agents push insurance because it increases the price of the vacation package—and thus, it could increase their commission. Yet, if you have health insurance, you may be covered for health emergencies while you’re traveling overseas. And many credit card companies cover the costs of lost baggage, canceled trips, emergency assistance and accidental death or dismemberment. It pays (literally) to check with your health-insurance and credit card companies before you buy travel insurance.
Why does almost every point talk about increasing commission? Anyway, I highly recommend insurance so that the traveler and I have peace of mind. There are so many unknowns about ones own health insurance, what’s covered internationally and how much of it. Also, your health insurance wont cover for itinerary changes, cancellation, change fees, evacuation or transportation! There are so many credit card companies and even more varying policies. Credit Card companies usually don’t automatically cover the costs of lost baggage & canceled trips. With many credit card companies you have to have a special program for lost baggage and canceled trips or you have to purchase, ….wait for it…..Insurance. The other caviat is that if you purchase a package through a tour operator and therefore your credit card does not pay for the airline ticket directly with the airline many of these points you made are invalid. You see there are many reasons based on our education, experience and research why we highly recommend travelers insurance!
I’m not going to go into every point because I think ASTA put it in the best words. “The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) read with concern Woman’s Day article entitled “10 Things Travel Agents Won’t Tell You.” While the article starts out right, as we certainly agree that “a travel agent can be a great resource,” that’s where it ended.”