When you do not need travel agent.
You donít need me.
I may be the only travel agent to admit it, but itís true. Under some circumstances youíre better off booking a trip without my help.
Think about it. Do you need an accountant to make a deposit at the bank? Do you need to see a doctor to treat a headache, or an attorney to pay for a parking ticket?
So here are some situations where using an agency might not make sense:
When itís a simple itinerary. If youíre talking about a point-to-point ticket on one carrier with no more than one stop, an agent is overkill. But with each change of planes, change of crew, change of scenery, your risk of a problem escalates proportionately. Otherwise, go online or call the airline directly.
If youíre a sole proprietor. If you run a small business with one or two employees, you probably do not need the travel management capabilities of a good travel consultant.
If youíre ĎNet-savvy. If you are computer literate with a high-speed connection, you may be able to find some last-minute fares that are not available elsewhere. However, make sure you read the terms and conditions before you click.
When youíre always on the road. If you are a frequent traveler and are familiar with the myriad of rules and regulations of the various airlines, booking online might work for you.
If youíre a night owl. Of course your travel consultant needs some sleep too. If you like to pull all-nighters and just canít wait for business hours to make a booking, then hit the Web. Most airlines and Web sites make their revisions in the wee hours of the morning and you might just get the first shot at a terrific fare.
If any of these descriptions apply to you, then what do you need me for? On the other hand, there are many times when not using a professional travel consultant is simply just not an option. Youíd be surprised at the pitfalls that lurk for the not-so-careful clicker.
Iíll get to those next time.
(Incidentally, this is my first column for Travelcomment.com, and Iím looking forward to a new adventure. You can read the pundits of the press or the spin doctors of the trade press. But rarely will you find an insider like me with an outsiderís perspective on the travel industry. I hope to be thought-provoking, ire-provoking and maybe even good for a few laughs, too. You may not agree with everything I write, but Iím always willing to keep an open mind about your perspective. I hope youíll keep an open mind about mine.)
John Frenaye is the president of JVE Group, Inc., a diversified company based in Annapolis, Md. With a background in business management, he writes about the travel industry as an insider with an outsider's perspective.
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