When someone mentions the word “travel agent” have you ever tilted your head to the side and asked if they still existed as if they were some kind of magical creature? It may be hard to believe, but we are still here and we still provide a great service to clients for FREE. And here’s how we work:

Hotels, vacation package companies and cruise lines all include travel agent commissions in their published prices. If you do all the work yourself online, they “pocket” the difference. Using the services of a travel agent means you get the customer service you deserve. You won’t be spending hours on the internet, being stuck on hold for eternity or wasting time wondering and worrying.

The airlines haven’t paid commissions to travel agents since the mid 1990’s. For this reason, travel agents either won’t book airfare alone or will charge a service fee to do so to compensate for our time unless it’s included in a package. Check the Hopper app, SkyScanner or I Know the Pilot for airfare deals!

For us, it’s not about making the sale, but about creating happy clients. Happy clients = repeat clients and refer others to us. We make our recommendations based on your specific needs and requests, not on what on what sales incentives or bonus gifts may be offered by a supplier. If we know of a better room or experience that will enhance your vacation, we’ll suggest it. We just want our clients to make informed decisions to get the most value for their money.

We know some people just enjoy planning their own vacations. If that’s you, then price it and allow your travel agent to price match it or tell you if you’re setting yourself up for a scam.If you’re a tried and true DIY vacation planner, you can get the best of both worlds! You can book your own reservations directly with your cruise line or tour operator then call and transfer the booking to your travel agency. You get exactly what you want while allowing us to follow through, make recommendations to enhance your trip and to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

We also are privy to special rates that consumers will never find online themselves. This feature alone will save you money. But let’s be honest. Our biggest feature is saving you time. HOURS can be spent researching a vacation. With the amount of conflicting information found online, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Many times, the questions you have are the ones that agents can answer right off the top of our heads.

Contrary to popular belief, we rarely get “free” trips. We invest our own money and especially our time to travel and visit the destinations we recommend. This gives us the chance to make industry connections that directly benefit our clients. We know exactly who to speak to in order to make special requests and troubleshoot problems. These relationships can prove priceless in emergency situations. Here, I’m with the General Manager of Sandals Royal Caribbean, Gerald Christ.

First hand experience and knowledge are what will change a typical vacation into a memorable experience. Even though good travel agents professionally invest in their own travel to gain this experience, not every agent can know every destination in the world. That said, good travel agents have a wide network of resources and know exactly who to call to get the answers their clients need.

Online booking often requires payment in full at the time you confirm your reservations. This means you could be paying huge credit card interest fees that will add to the total cost of your vacation in the long run. If you plan ahead and use a travel agent, you will only be required to pay a small deposit to confirm your family’s vacation reservations. Final payment for your trip will usually be required 45 to 60 days prior to your departure. This means your travel agent can set up a monthly vacation layaway program that could save you hundreds on credit card interest.

Now you know how we work, how we get paid and how we can save you lots of time and money!