By now, you’ve probably heard lots of stories of people who purchased tickets or packages online and didn’t get what they thought they were getting.
Or, as in the case of Audrey and Brian Kay, an elderly couple from England who got way more than they were expecting. Mr. and Mrs. Kay booked a trip to celebrate their diamond anniversary in Australia through an online travel agency. The tickets were indeed incredibly cheap — around $620 NZD for both tickets.
But the Kays had to change flight times. Then their passports were stolen in Sydney; they had to make another adjustment while waiting for the replacements. The online booking agency wound up charging them fees that totaled eight times what their original tickets had cost. These fees totaled over $4,000 NZD, plus the original cost of the tickets.
This is unfortunately not uncommon with online booking agencies. Online booking agencies don’t follow the same fee structure as airlines. So, for example, the airline that runs to Sydney from where the Kays live would normally charge about $174 NZD for flight changes, not several thousand.
But the Kays didn’t know that, and the online agency didn’t return their calls. It wasn’t until one of the Kays’ children sent the story to a local news outlet that the unscrupulous fees were reduced. But how many other travelers have been hit with onerous fees and haven’t had someone to go to bat for them?
A reputable travel agent will give you your all-in cost, fees included, right up front.
There should be zero confusion as to how much your trip or package will cost! That’s what a good agent does. That’s what I do for my clients. Do not, under any circumstances, do business with an online agency that does not provide this information up front.
Your agent is there for you.
A good agent (or agency) is there for you form the moment you call to inquire. They will return your emails, your texts, your phone calls. They will answer your questions fully. They’ll be a phone call away if something unexpected happens on your trip and you need assistance for anything, big or small.
Your agent looks out for you.
A reputable agent will recommend top-quality travel insurance so if something happens (like what happened to the Kays) — changed flight times, stolen passport, or a medical emergency — you’ll be covered with zero hassle.
And if it seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Those bargain basement deals that occasionally pop up in your news feed can be hard to resist. But never has the phrase “you get what you pay for” been more true with travel. It’s one thing to skip the Michelin star restaurant or the ocean-front walkout suite, but your safety and wellbeing should never be for sale. Read the fine print, weigh the pros and cons, and when in doubt talk to a professional who can help!
Your vacation should be a source of delight and excitement for you and your family. It should be the most relaxing thing you’ve done all year. That’s what professional agents are committed to providing for their clients. It’s one of many reasons why I do what I do, and why I believe that the unique service we offer cannot be replaced.