When we first think of booking a holiday we head off for a travel agent and then stagger home with several kilos of brochures to peruse a choice of destinations. Having made a choice we return to the travel agent to book our holiday. If this sounds familiar it is because most of us use this method of choosing and booking our holiday, but do we need travel agents?
Under test by TV programmes, agents have received comparatively poor reports for the advice they give to intending travellers. Trying to find something 'out of the ordinary' you are likely to be disappointed by most high street 'travel shops' - our enquiry for a package covering six weeks, two weeks on each main Balearic Island, was met with consternation by one major high street chain. Holiday companies spend a lot on promoting their products, both to the general public and to the travel agents. You only have to read a few issues of the Travel Trade Gazette to be familiar with the photographic record of 'jollies' with which companies woo the travel agents. If you do want to test your travel agent for the quality of their advice call in and ask for information on 'walking holidays in the Picos de Europa' - we'll have to update this to Ordesa National Park, Sierra Nevada or the Trodos Mountains after enterprising travel agents have read this topic! We know that Walk! Axarquia is just a few minutes drive from the Costa del Sol, and that the best way to get to the Sierra de Aracena is to fly to Seville or Malaga and pick up a hire car, but do Travel Agents?
While other industries, such as insurance and banking, have adapted to the modern age the 'volume travel business' is still rooted in high-street shops. Alternatives to the traditional approach include;
Direct Booking. Major companies often have 'parallel brochures' for clients to book direct with the company. We have found this approach to give good value for money when booking our research trips. Cutting out the agent allows the company to give good prices, combined with a quick phone call to make your reservations. For these direct-booking brochures phone the major company enquiry numbers.
In 2007 it seems that high street 'travel shops' are still surviving. Despite the growth of the internet, budget airlines, internet based booking agencies and direct booking over the web, the traditional travel agent is still surviving in significant numbers; amazing for what was regarded as an endangered species of recent times.
Specialist Companies. Few companies offering specialist holidays offer their products for sale through travel agents. You book direct with the company - see Specialist Companies.
For more Advice Directory topics click Directory. Holiday Companies. Specialist Companies.
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