What are the differences between a Travel Agent and Travel Advisor?
The Down and Dirty of being a Travel Professional...
Let's break this one down...
You've all probably heard the terms, Travel Agent. Then you've probably heard other terms such as Travel Professional, Travel Advisor, Travel Consultant, etc etc etc and so on....
So what's the difference?
Those who work in selling Travel - at home or in a store front - and have been certified or had proficient training in the Travel industry are considered Travel Professionals. Are they really professional? Well that remains to be seen! There are indeed a lot of different folks out there! Professional and not so Professional.... one thing is for sure, all of the terms exist.
Travel Advisors and Travel Consultants could be close in connection with regard to meaning. They all consult or give advice and advise you. A lot of the new wave of travel agents prefer to be coined Travel Advisors or Travel Consultants instead of Travel Agents because it sounds "more professional". The fact is they do not always work interchangeably or in the same way. You can indeed have a Travel Advisor or Consultant that also books travel not just advises you. You can also have a Travel Advisor or Consultant that does not even book your travel too.
Basically it doesn't hurt to ask what they do before you select one! And select carefully!!
|The Old way ASTA coined us|
|The New way ASTA coins us|
Well, with the age of the internet looming upon us anyone can go on the internet and profess they can do what a Travel Professional can do - even easier. Or they can walk into that same brick and mortar use the Travel Agents / Travel Consultant / Travel Advisor's advice and go book online for themselves. Yeah ... one of the professionals "biggest pet peeves of all times". What does that make you? And Really - you can do this yourself and be totally, completely be happy about it? I don't think so! And as you come to do this you'll realize that how you are perceived as a customer will change and also change the way these professionals work.
The internet has left us with a myriad of choices, inaccuracies, and biased advice. The way Travel Agents of today work have also been re-created or re-imagined. Like Forrest says " Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get." The same holds true when it comes to booking travel online!
Either Travel Professional you go with you will no doubt get a lot of work done for you.... for free. You'll most likely get more than you bargained for. And in other words - on the suppliers dime. Use it! The fact is you're keeping part of your money in the communities and supporting small businesses. You're doing more good than you think. Travel professionals only make money when you book and travel with them too. That is, most of them do. Unless they are requiring up front money for their time and/ or services.
Travel Professionals still live by a code of ethics (or at least they should). They can still be held accountable to a certain standard. It doesn't matter what they call themselves. It doesn't matter what you call them.
So what to do? Find out what it is they will do for you. Find out what it is they will not do for you. Everyone is different. Like finding the perfect love of your life, you will want to find the right match for you in a Travel Professional.
Why use a Travel Professional?
Here are great questions to start asking yourselves - Do you think you can book online with any available supplier? Think again! You cannot. Can you always call a direct number when you need help? You cannot. Do you have the inside scoop and contacts of the supplier management line? I assure you, you would not. The list goes on and on with many valid reasons why you should use a Travel Professional! Let's cover a few more...
This list could go on and on....
How Travel Professionals Get Paid?
What if I were to tell you that some don't? Would you believe me? If they aren't then they probably aren't doing it right... but... What if I were to tell you that you aren't actually paying them out of your own pocket? Would you believe me then....?
Well.... BELIEVE IT!
The majority of Travel Professionals as described only get paid based on what the suppliers are willing to pay them. Are you paying them directly? No. Are you even really paying them? No. Travel Professionals get paid by what's called a commission. They make a % of what they sell but what they sell is listed and paid to them by the supplier. Suppliers do not mark up costs. What you see on a supplier site is what you should be paying your Travel Professional. UNLESS the Travel Professional explains otherwise. Then you have to make the decision if they are worth it or not.
A Travel Professional (at least I do...) gets paid only after you, the customer, book and travel through their business. So if you are using their services and then booking elsewhere that really reinvents the way Travel Professionals will be willing to work! This is why a lot of Travel Professionals now charge an up front non-refundable fee which covers their services. So like checking your credit report, be careful of this one...
Do Travel Professionals get to Travel the World for Free?
Short answer. No.
Travel Professionals do not work like they used to. Gone are the days where they could travel the world for free. So if you're thinking of becoming a Travel Professional be prepared to do HARD WORK. It takes a certain type of person to enter this trade and one must truly love helping people!
All kinds of different people....
How I go about selecting a Travel Professional?
Honestly, this is entirely up to you.
Some folks select through word of mouth, family and friends. Others, through an internet search. No matter how you do it, be sure to do your due diligence! Are they certified with their very first certification being a TAP = Travel Agent Proficient? How many years have they been in business or are they working with a mentor (if not many years)? What kinds of classes did they take? What do they specialize in (what is their niche)?
No matter who you select you can always change your mind until your trip has been booked and paid for in full. So if your needs are not being met the important thing to do is to communicate with your Travel Professional immediately. Don't wait until the last minute to spring a surprise. No one likes them... not even you.