A few years ago it was virtually impossible to plan a trip without the expert advice of a well-travelled and experienced travel agent. Not only do they take the effort out of planning a vacation, they also use their industry magic to score the best deals for you. But times are changing, and these days you can plan everything at the click of a mouse, from flights to accommodation and activities. So which one is better – the good, old fashioned travel agent, or the modern online travel sites? More importantly, which option will save you time and money?
1. Booking through an online website is cheaper.
Big online travel websites claim to offer the best price, with many sites competing to match or even better the price other sites, or travel agents, are offering. This is true most of the time, and many online websites can offer a better deal than any travel agent. Many big sites offer the cheapest rates while still selling quality products. These sites offer great discounts, which means you save money on your trip.
2. You are more in control when booking online
When you put a travel agent in charge, you are basically wiping your hands clean of any contribution towards planning the trip. You want them to organise everything and for you and simply reap the rewards. They organise the nitty-gritty details of your trip – flight tickets, flight routes, accommodation, car hire, activities, and everything in between.
With online travel, you are in control of your trip. No middle man, just you and your PC planning your vacation.
3. There is a higher chance of being bumped flights when booking online
Believe it or not, when you book online, your chances of being bumped off your flight are greater. This is because often travel websites do not immediately remove booked seats from the availability list, resulting in flights being oversold. And if you have one of the last tickets sold, you will be the first to be bumped on an overbooked flight.
4. Travel agents provide better customer service
As you know, online customer service is zero, you do everything yourself, from flight tickets and car hire, to accommodation and activities. If you booked your trip online and something is not to your liking, unfortunately there is not much you can do about it. With a travel agent, all you have to do is call and the greatest effort will be made to sort the problem out.
5. Some prices online are misleading
While booking through an online site can save you money, there are times when the prices indicated can be misleading. This is due to the online site not including various things like tax and daily fees into the overall price indicated. Travel agents, on the other hand, include all of these prices in your final quote.
6. Online trips are usually non-refundable
When booking online, you need to be 100% sure you will be able to make the trip as most bookings are non-refundable. Any small changes that need to be made to the itinerary could cost you money as well. Travel agencies offer travel insurance to you and your companions if you cancel due to medical or personal emergencies. Depending on the time period before the trip, cancelling online bookings mean losing half, or even all of your money paid.
So basically, if you are planning a short, simple, no-frills trip make the plans yourself online. If, however, you are looking for a top class tour or cruise with the best flights and accommodation and expert services, contact your local travel agent.
This article was written by Flight site offering a guide to online travel in South Africa.