MADISON (WKOW) -- If you're planning to get away this winter, you could spend hours on the Internet searching for deals on airfare and accommodations. Or you could use a travel agent who will definitely save you time and may even save you some money. Angie's List can help you decide which is best for you.
Kathy Duvall is a travel agent. She says, “The Internet has been the best thing that ever happened to travel… to good travel agencies. The rotten ones are a dead and dying breed.”
In fact, the number of travel agents has been cut in half over the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But those still standing are thriving. The American Society of Travel Agents says the country’s 64,000 agents account for 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States.
Founder of Angie's List, Angie Hicks says, “Hiring an experienced travel agent can be a great idea if you’ve got a complicated trip or if you’re traveling internationally. They’ll be able to coordinate the hotels, the airfare, any tours you want to take, and they may have access to special packages that you couldn’t find on your own.”
Duvall adds, “We have contacts and friends everywhere. Not only with the wholesalers that offer these resorts, but also with the on-the-ground transfer people, the general managers, the sales people, everybody.”
If you're worried about getting stranded at the airport, a good travel agent will track your progress and step in when things go wrong, like a connecting flight that gets canceled while you’re already in route. Duvall says, “They text me. I say no worries, I’ll follow your plane. By the time they land and they’re late, their flight information has already been updated. I text them – here’s your next flight, go catch it, have a great time.”
Hicks says, “If your vacation plans are more simple, for example a weekend away or a vacation you take every year, a travel agent may not be worth the investment. But if you’re thinking about a resort vacation or a cruise, tapping into the expertise of a travel agent may be a great idea.”
Angie says many agents are paid by the hotels and other vendors they work with, so there may be no fee for you to use one. She says you need to feel comfortable with the agent you choose, like he or she is a trusted friend, so if you don’t build a quick rapport, you may need to find someone else.