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Find Travel Agent - How to Choose a Travel Agent

While it may be true that more and more people are booking their own travel services online, there are some advantages to using a travel agent. First of all, a travel agent can save you time. Instead of spending a lot of time exhausting all online sources, just do a quick search to get a general idea of the price range for airfare to your chosen destination. Then deliver the information to a travel agent and let him or her spend the time searching for a better price.

Secondly, a travel agent is an insider. The agent knows the travel business. He or she understands the when, where, why and how of finding cheap airfares. Experienced agents know how to work the computer reservation system so that it generates different results according to the criteria put in to it. Online systems are quite limited in comparison to what a travel agent can do. This means that an agent can frequently produce more and better results than you or I could unless, of course, you are an experienced travel agent and know these techniques.

For example, one secret I learned from a man who spent 16 years working with a major airline corporation was that there is a "secret day to book" airfare. According to Tony Morrison's Save on Airfare Secrets manual, "The best time to book for your flight is around 6 PM on Tuesdays because this is the time when airlines update their systems with new fares." Since the number of seats that are designated for the lowest price are limited, whoever finds them first gets the best deals.

How to Find the Best Travel Agent

If you already have a travel agent with whom you book your travel services and are satisfied with his or her service, then the following technique may not interest you. If you do not presently book your travel services through a travel agent or are not very happy with the one you have been using, then keep reading. Finding a good travel agent is like finding extra money because of the savings they can get you.

Travel agents are in the service business. Unfortunately, not all of them do a good job of serving. Recently, I was walking down the street when I noticed an advertisement for cruises on the window of a travel agency in my neighborhood. Since I had been thinking about a Trans-Atlantic cruise, I decided to step into the agency and do some initial research.

The agency was a one-person operation. The young agent that attended me was apparently having a bad day because she did not seem very happy to have a potential customer. After explaining what I was looking for, she spent several minutes searching online and then in a catalog before informing me that she did not know where to find the information. She asked for my email and informed me that she would look for the answer later that afternoon and then send it to me. Weeks have past and I still have not heard from her.

So, how do you find a travel agent that will go the extra mile? How do you find one that really has your interests in mind? Here is a little trick that I discovered by accident several years ago.

Put several travel agents to the test by creating competition for your business. Once you have completed your initial research online and are aware of the general price range for the airfare you want to purchase, it is time to find a travel agent. The first step is to make a list of 3 to 5 travel agents to contact. Local travel agents are ideal but this may not be possible if you live in a small town or remote area. You can find travel agents through the local yellow pages, consulting friends and family members, or searching the internet. Write down the contact information for each one.

Now, contact each travel agent and say something like the following. "Hello. My name is John Doe. I need round trip airfare from X to Y, departing month, day and returning month, day. I found an online fare for $X and wanted to know if you could find me a better deal." If the agent says "no" then thank him or her and hang up. If the agent says "yes" then give your contact information and any details you think may be important such as your preferences concerning departure and return dates, number of stops, duration of trip, etc.

There is one other thing to mention and this is very important. Inform the agent that you will be contacting other travel agencies. First of all, this should give the agent the motivation to work harder in an effort to conquer you as a client. Also, the agent will not be surprised if you need to inform them later that another agent found you a better deal.

When the first agent calls and informs you that a better deal has been found than the one you located on the internet, then write down the information, thank the agent and inform them that you are waiting for a call from the others you contacted. As each agent contacts you, they will inform you as to whether they located a cheaper price than the one you found. If the price is higher than the first agent that beat the internet price, thank them and inform them that another agent found a better price. They will do one of two things. Either they will accept defeat and hang up or they will offer to look some more. Take special note of those that make this extra effort. Even if they only find a deal equal to the lowest fare you have been offered, their extra effort could still win your favor.

If the second, third or fourth agents call with a better price than those with whom you spoke previously, tell him or her that you need to contact the other agents before making reservations. Contact the other agents. Inform each agent of the price that was located and ask if he or she could possibly find you a better deal. Again, they will either say "yes" or "no". React accordingly.

Just keep doing this until an agent gives you the best price and all the others tell you that they cannot beat it. If everything goes according to plan, you will have found both an excellent price on your airfare and a travel agent that you can trust to work hard in favor of saving you money.

If you travel frequently, you may want to go through this process two or three times before choosing one specific travel agent as your go-to person for travel services.

Want the best of both worlds? Open your own home based travel agency.

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