Getting Great Deals through your Travel Agency
By: Jeremy Foster
We could all use a break from the monotony of our jobs and the humdrum of domestic chores, and the first thing that comes to mind is often a vacation. As many health experts say, taking a vacation every now and then is indispensable to good health.
The next thing we do is look for great travel deals through a travel agency. This is important because if taking a vacation means emptying out our wallets and bank accounts, what good can that do to our financial health? In dire economic times, topmost in our minds is to get the best deals, which are typically possible only from travel agencies.
Many people think that getting travel deals on the Internet is the way to go. The reason for this is that there is very little overhead involved. Online ticket sellers don’t need a physical location; all they need is a web site and a marketing campaign. A recently released white paper says, however, that people who book with travel agents receive discounts of as much as $56.00 more than when booking with the Internet or with an airline.
Great Deals through Your Travel Agency: Tips
Here are some things to bear in mind when you want to obtain great deals through a travel agency.
1. Remember the concepts of off-peak and peak – these concepts relate to travel time periods. For instance, peak travel periods would be Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduation and Easter. You probably still might get a great deal, but chances are very slim. Peak season equates with greater demand for tickets and more crowded airports, not to speak of higher fuel costs. You can obtain great deals if you schedule your trip during off peak travel periods.
2. Air consolidators – when you hear someone say, "my ticket is a consolidated ticket", that means they are travelling to an overseas destination like Asia or Europe and their travel agents sold them consolidated tickets. Agents have access to consolidated tickets because they have special and exclusive arrangements with major carriers, thanks to frequent volume purchases.
3. Wide network of providers – travel agents work on special computer systems that provide access to the world’s discounted travel packages. This is why your best bet is to deal with a travel agent when hunting for deals because agents use the most sophisticated program applications, technology and relationships to do some bargain hunting for you.
4. Group travel - just as buying in bulk would fetch a lower price at a food wholesaler, your travel agent will be pleased to seek additional discounts for you if you’re travelling in a group. If you tell your travel agent that you need tickets for a party of four or five people, the potential of obtaining great deals is higher.
5. Budget travel – ask your travel agent for a variety of ways of travelling on a tight budget. You should tell your travel agent that you are willing to take the train, stay in a youth hostel, and eat in cheaper restaurants. Numerous travel associations here and abroad cater to younger travellers who are usually on a limited budget. Your travel agent has access to a wealth of information relating to cheap accommodations and cheap dining, as well as access to discount coupons and free passes to attractions.
6. Advance booking – it used to be that the magic number was "21"; that is, booking your trip 21 days in advance, giving you a cheaper fare. Not anymore. If you’re going to London for Christmas, call your travel agent six to seven months ahead and ask her to look for the cheapest possible flight; be aware though that Christmas time can be an expensive time to travel anywhere. If you’re travelling to say Hong Kong for Chinese New Year, you’re better off booking about seven months ahead.
7. Restricted plane fare – if you’re a no-fuss traveller and you know exactly what you want, tell your travel agent. For instance you can tell your travel agent the following:
• You’re travelling on say June 21 and that’s a definite date (which means you’re not going to change the date) and you’re returning on July 31 (again no changing of dates);
• You don’t mind a circuitous route (direct flights are more expensive)
• You’re open to taking red eye flights
• You don’t mind being on stand-by
• Remember that if you do change the dates, you could be paying a penalty.
8. Retiree - if you are a retiree, tell your travel agent. Some travel agents offer hot deals to seniors and have special relationships with hotels and sightseeing tour operators that cater specifically to this age group.
9. Children – again, some travel agents can offer half fares or practically free fares for children under a certain age. Some agents will even offer the fourth ticket free if you’re travelling with four children.
10. Day of the week – it matters what day of the week you want to travel – provided these days are not close to national holidays. For instance, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday are considered off-days.
Jeremy Foster is a freelance writer who writes about vacationing and the travel industry, often discussing tips and travel deals one would find through working with a travel agency.
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