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Are Travel Agents Necessary in Today’s Online World?

In today’s technology-filled world, we have easy access to all kinds of information. We’re able to research, compare, and book travel right in the comfort of our own home. In the past, we relied solely on travel agents to find the “right” flight, the perfect hotel or the deepest discount for us. I doesn’t seem that long ago that I would drive to the travel agency to pick up my “paper” airline tickets. So, the question is, with all of this information so readily available, has the role of the travel agent become obsolete? What services can they offer that we can’t do for ourselves?

I believe that travel agents today still offer services and information that we can’t get online. Granted, some things such as booking a simple flights, most people can successfully manage on their own. A travel agent however, can recommend smaller, alternative airports that the discount carriers use. This alone can save you quite a bit of money. However, the key thing that travel agents today offer is their first-hand knowledge and experience. In planning a cruise vacation, I want to talk to a travel agent who’s specialty is cruising. They have traveled on many different cruise lines and can give me much more insight that a brochure or web page can. The same thing goes for tours and specialty travel such as luxury, adventure, villa rentals, etc.

The question is, since there are travel agents and agencies everywhere, how do you find a reputable one? There are several things you can do to help you in your search. The first thing is the most obvious – Referrals and recommendations. Now, just because your friend has been going to a particular travel agent for years doesn’t mean that this agent is right for you. Perhaps your friend primarily books cruises and you are planning a trip to Africa. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have they ever been to the destination you are looking to visit?

The second thing I look for is certification and professional associations. Many travel agencies require their agents to have passed the Travel Agent Proficiency exam or “TAP”. This test was developed by The Travel Institute and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to provide a national standard of entry-level proficiency for the travel industry. The International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), is another measure of credibility. An IATA number identifies an agent and their agency as a bona-fide travel professional who now may qualify for reduced rates or other industry concessions.

Finally, check to see if they are a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). The ASTA is the world’s largest association of travel professionals with over 20,000-plus members. Ask your travel agent if they are a member or you can search the ASTA website to find an accredited agent near you by simply putting in your zip code. There is an excellent “advanced search” feature that will let you query by destination or specialty. All of travel agent profiles will not only display name and contact information, but will also give information on their areas of expertise and languages spoken. Using an experienced travel professional not only has the advantage of having your travel planning for done for you but you will also gain valuable insight and possibly a discounted rate to boot!

Domestic Flights at Great Discounts

The Internet is the greatest tool when in search of discounted domestic flights for most journeys, anywhere within your country. The air travel industry is progressing competitively at a higher rate. As in the increase in the demand for domestic flights, a traveler has the choice to fly at cheaper rates than those offered by the top airlines. This is primarily due to the fact that low cost carriers offer very reasonable rates.

When you are booking your domestic flight you might want to think about getting cheap flights so as to save your money and still have a relaxed journey. The simplest way to find the various low cost domestic airfare prices is to decide which domestic airline you would want to travel with. Low priced domestic air tickets can be easily acquired from most of the travel websites. This will help you save time and use the same for other important tasks. The travel sites have a tie up with different airlines and so can afford to offer discounted rates. One can easily avail discounted domestic airfares during the off season or during the time when there is less traffic. As most of the domestic airlines travel to different cities during the week you are bound to find a domestic flight that will take you where you want to go.

Online air travels sites have put the possibility of international and domestic air travel within the reach of many more people. Online travel sites make sure you find the best price in town from the comfort of your home or office.

How to Get Discount Airline Tickets

Airlines the world over are now providing or giving travelers the option to buy their discount airline tickets at very low rates, which are available to them at certain times. These are best suited and appreciated by people who are planning a vacation on a budget. It is wise to find a travel agent who answer your questions and give you details such as who is offering these tickets, how do the terms and policies of these tickets work? When are they available? What are the forms of payment accepted for discount airline tickets and all that?

These kinds of discount airline tickets are also great for people who are traveling at short notice. You will find that on most sectors that offer frequent flights, they might leave a few seats with discount pricing still available for travelers. The problem with these tickets is they have a lot of policies and regulations tied to them. For example, you can transfer them to another person, they have a no cancellation policy, where you have to fly or lose your ticket. Others do not allow you to claim refunds, even if you are sick.

Discount airline tickets are also put on the market for short periods of time. For example you might go online now, and find a ticket at the price you want. If you decide not to buy it and try again later, you could find that not only is that ticket gone, but now anything you might want to buy has doubled in price.

Tickets are also sold at discounted rates to people who are frequent fliers. They can redeem points to get tickets whose prices are discounted. Most of these tickets are sold as electronic tickets, as opposed to paper tickets.