BY MICHELLE JAMIESON – Travel planning, whether for leisure or business has always been a great source of stress because most people are not experts in travel details.  A great reliever for the stress of travel planning has been overlooked in the past few years.  Travel agents will never go away; they are in full force these days and are more useful than ever. 

Wendy Goodenow, President of HNL Travel Associates, a local travel agency, believes that “Travel success is more than point to point tickets, hotels that look pretty, and tour operators that are very willing to take credit card from anyone.”

Customer service is overlooked at times, however, customer service and customer attention is vital and second nature to the travel industry.  Consumers will find no better customer service then that experienced by utilizing a travel agent.  Every decision that is made is made for the consumer, by the consumer, but with the guidance, knowledge and experience of the travel agent coupled with their access to great deals and information. 

As time has gone by, many have started to make their own travel arrangements using the knowledge of destinations that they gather from travel books, sites and news.  Most consumers use travel agents because they are looking for a specialist, a destination wedding specialist, a Europe specialist, a Southeast Asia specialist, to advise them on where to go, how to get there and what to do when you get there.  However, travel agents are advisers and experts in all of the areas that are needed in order to have the best travel experience.  Travel agents are able to provide all of the information that have gathered from their travel experience to many destinations as well as sound advice about the travel planning.

The travel industry has changed significantly over the last ten years, and for consumers it is very difficult to stay appraised of all of the changes in travel fees or requirements that are associated with travel to a variety of destinations.  It is their job as a travel agent to know all of the hidden costs involved with travel – flights, hotels, rental cars – and they will explain and share what those costs are during the planning process. 

The most important reason to use a travel agent, and has always been one of the most important reasons that is overlooked, is the personalized service and attention that is given to each consumer.  The personalized service will address the individual needs of the consumer based on physical or age limitations, transportation or nutritional requirements.  These are not services that can be addressed while planning travel independently. 

“With our own travel experiences, we advise our clients about little details the Internet does not offer,” explains Wendy Goodenow.  “Vendors will try to sell you a visa when they can actually be done on arrival (for less).”

A travel agents job doesn’t stop once they have finished planning a client’s trip and they are on route to their destination.  A travel agents job continues until the consumers arrive back from their trip.  They will help their clients if something goes wrong while they are traveling and travel agents will troubleshoot any problems that occur.   

The magic of a travel agent is not a secret, but they have travel trade secrets that will provide their clients with information and access to some of the best deals and places in the destination they choose to travel to. 

Travel planning is supposed to be fun and travel agents will make every moment of their clients travel, from planning to end fun, easy and most importantly, stress free. 

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