Should you use a travel agent for your next vacation?

Don’t let bad choices ruin your next vacation

Travel agencies are not what they used to be. It’s a shrinking industry — one dwarfed by the Expedias and Travelocitys of the world. But while the internet’s ever expanding online travel services are now the norm, there is no replacing expertise and good customer service.

Because of that, travel agents remain a go-to for vacationers looking to make the most out of their days away from home. Not only can an agent get you the best fares, but they also have in-depth knowledge about destinations and can recommend hotels, restaurants, guides and other services you might not find online.

To get the best bang for your buck the next time you book an agent, here are four big tips.

Certification matters

According to Frommers, certification matters. This will help you separate the professionals from the novices.

Look for an agent that is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the world’s largest association of travel professionals. Additional certifications that show your agent means business include ones under The Travel Institute and the Association of Retail Travel Agents.

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Go local

The New York Times reported that it is best to go local when choosing a travel agent.

“The same holds true for any professional service in your life,” Misty Belles of international travel agency network Virtuoso, told The New York Times. “If you know someone who is working with a travel adviser and was pleased with the experience, that’s a great place to start.”

As the travel agency business is shrinking, many agents and their respective businesses are reliant on their reputations to succeed. Consequently, the high recommendation of a trusted friend is a valuable resource for choosing an agent.

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Previous experience with the destination

Professionalism, certification and a good reputation will take the modern travel agent far. But to make the most out of your experience, you will want to choose someone with experience arranging vacations at your intended travel destination.

According to The Travel Net, a travel agent does not necessarily need to have previous experience of traveling to the destination. But some travel agents do focus on particular areas of interest for their work, such as certain areas of the Bahamas or regions of Europe.

Choose a travel agent with professional experience managing vacation details within the area you wish to travel to.