There are times when - and travelers who - should turn to an independent travel agent to arrange and book their overseas travel.
While it's easy today to find online booking sites and travel portals to research and book your own trip, there are still times when even the most savvy traveler needs the help and expertise of a qualified travel professional.
In our current age of technology, anyone with a bit of information and a computer can book the basic requirements for a trip to Europe.
But unless you're a seasoned Euro-traveler, the benefits gained from using an independent agent, [and those that will make or break your trip] are the pro-fessional skills, experience, and knowledge of Europe that most travelers have yet to acquire.
The first step in deciding whether or not to use a independent travel agent is determining how much you know about overseas travel, how much knowledge you have about your intended destination, and how experienced you are in planning travel to Europe.
Local storefront travel agents tend to specialize in particular areas of travel, like corporate travel or leisure/vacation travel.
They may excel in a particular travel mode, like escorted tours, group affinity tours, or specialized adventure travel.
Others may have gone the extra mile to become certified travel agents, focusing on specific destinations or areas of the world.
Still others may be dedicated cruise agents, or cater solely to high-end travelers, who usually require the assistance of a trusted professional travel planner.
In contrast, using an online travel agent can usually provide you with huge amounts of printable information for planning your trip to Europe - but without the face to face, one on one expertise of an experienced agent.
It can be difficult, if not impossible, to get answers to specific travel questions online. Personalized input and individual help is often handled by Customer Support or 'chat' support, not face to face - but on the back side of your computer.
The more you wish to customize your trip, the more necessary it is to work with an independent travel agent, who knows about, regularly sells, and has even traveled personally throughout much of Europe, or wherever you plan to travel.
When consulting an independent travel agent, be sure you understand the nature and structure of her fees, and how those fees will impact the travel arrangements you make.
Once you’re comfortable with this, there are many ways a professional agent can add value to your overseas trip and help you create the experiences you wish to have.
Opposed to an online booking agent, who can only carry out the commands you give your computer, a real-life local travel agent can
Whatever the kind of trip or level of service you need, a professional independent travel agent can help.
Any fees you pay will be in direct proportion to the amount of work they do for you, as well as any commissions they receive via the international travel companies you book with.
Be prepared to provide your travel agent with your informed decisions about where you want to go, what you want to do, a pre-determined amount for your travel budget, as well as any concerns or questions you have.
Prior to your meeting, take advan-tage of as many travel resources as possible, to narrow your options and make basic travel decisions.
Your agent will use this information to help you select the type of trip and trip components to match your hopes and dreams.
The more travel research you do on your own - before meeting with your agent - the better the options she can offer you tol meet or beat your travel expectations.
International travel agents provide expertise.
They can coordinate all aspects of your trip, from airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and car rentals, to package tours, day trips, and local transportation - even where you eat your meals, if you so choose.
But they are not magicians.
Like any business professional, you have to meet them half-way by providing the basic information of your past travel experience, your time and budget, and any required amenities that will make your trip successful.
Based on this information, a good international travel agent will handle the details of your trip and create an experience that will become your best travel memories.
To learn more about using travel agents to help you plan your trip to Europe, check out these articles:
Is using an Online Travel Agent the best strategy? Determine if an online booking site is better than using an independent travel agent.
Certified Travel Agents are the travel professionals you need to help you plan your overseas trip. But don't discount an independent travel counselor with years of on-the-job experience. She's worth her weight in gold!
Becoming a Travel Agent is easy and cheap - so say the ads on the web. But is joining the ranks of the travel agent industry as simple as signing your name?