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Why I want my travel agent to travel

When travelling should be part of the job description

We just moved into a new house. Yay. But neither my partner nor I are in the least bit ‘handy’. So the TV we would love hung above the fireplace is still resting in its box next to the fireplace. It has been there a month. Why? Because we don’t want to risk doing it ourselves. Instead, we are waiting for my partner’s brother to come and hang it up with the skill and slight condescension we have come to know and love.


I have told my friends of our incompetence and they swear by Hire a Hubby or Gumtree handymen. No one mocks or ridicules us because they understand the risks of a badly hung TV.


When I tell the same friends that I booked my last flight overseas with a travel agent, they tell me I’ve been ripped off or wasted my time or go into a long spiel about how they booked something themselves and it was cheaper than anything an agent could do.


But surely an international flight costs more money than a TV? And the associated costs of travel gone wrong can be astronomical. So it makes sense that I invest in people who know what they’re doing.


I admit I wasn’t a travel agent person. The convenience of the internet made so much sense. But then I called a travel agent to just see if they could get me a better price and not only could they get me to where I needed to be cheaper than booking direct with the airline, the travel agent’s quote was also cheaper than the internet site I was using and they managed to book me on flights that had shorter layover times and more loyalty points. Sold.


Clearly, quality counts.


I want a travel agent who travels regularly. A local travel agent who travels more than me can give me hints about getting to the airport, airport secrets (like the Yoga Room or full-time curator at San Francisco Airport), hints about what to expect with the airline with which I’m travelling (like bring your own headphones to best take advantage of gate to gate entertainment systems), and of course, hotel and destination information.


I get that travel agents are busy. Some agencies simply can’t afford to be out of their offices for a week at a time. Yes, there are a tonne of specialist courses out there for agents, but nothing beats the experience gained from actually travelling to the destination. And it’s part of the package I pay for. I don’t want the people hanging my TV to have never hung a TV before, but instead, have just had people come in and tell them about hanging a TV.


I want to walk into a travel agency and have them tell me that they or a colleague just returned from a similar destination and they learned X, Y, and Z. I don’t care if it was a familiarisation trip organized by a destination marketer or if it was a personal holiday. Just travel and tell me that you’ve done it. Blog about it, put it on Facebook or even just send your colleagues an email about what you loved about your trip and what some of the challenges were. But whatever you do, just make the time to travel. For me.



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Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 19 March 2014

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