The best analogy I could find for online travel site vs a professional travel agent is to make a comparison to a fast food restaurant and a good restaurant.
With a fast food restaurant, the food quality and amounts are consistent, you know your hunger will go away, it’s not hard on your pocket book, it’s good enough, you deserve to splurge with those extra calories and you know it’s not the most nutritious meal. The service is fair, you usually get what you order (don’t make any changes though). Pretty good order takers, and the meals serves the purpose. You look online, you click, price is right, it’ll be good enough.
Now compare a good restaurant to a professional travel agent. You are greeted by a friendly face, taken to a table of your choice, lets you know about the specials, offers their opinion of the special, and answer your questions. You then sit down and enjoy a well-serviced meal, feel special, love the great price since you used a promotion for a discount, eat nutritiously, and realize you are special and deserve to be treated with excellent customer service.
If you think online travel sites are less expensive than a professional travel agent you had better think again!
Professional travel agents know about the promotions, try to understand what you are looking for and can suggest the right property, are there for you, usually upgrade, send you gifts or do something out of the ordinary to make sure you are happy and comeback.
Having said this, not all professional travel agents are the same. Some get tired of their past career and open up online travel site extensions as a storefront. These are order takers not professionals.The best way to find a professional travel agent is by referral. They are not looking to just close the sale. They know their product and offer you the best value for your hard earned money. With so many travel options out there today, you owe it to yourself to consult with a professional.
Don’t you think you’re better than fast food?