I know in the past I was leery of booking vacations through an online travel agency. I thought that it would undoubtedly cost me twice as much money as it would if I just did the research and booked on my own. The more I travel, however, the moreI realize you can av a lot of money on specific vacations just by contacting an online travel agency to help you book! So, I decided to clue you into a few of my favorite ways to take advantage of a travel agent to give you the best prices.
How To Save Booking Through An Online Travel Agency
Ask your friends for recommendations. You would probably be surprised at how many of your friends are either travel agents themselves or have used one in the past. Send out a message or social media status asking for recommendations. This can help you to narrow down the options to a few great people you know will work hard to give you the best vacation possible.
Once you have personal recommendations, it’s time to find out what each online travel agency offers differently.You’ll find that while most have a special location or type of deal they work around it is rare to find a travel agent that doesn’t accommodate almost any trip organization. Just because their website or business card says they specialize in cruise vacations doesn’t mean they can’t score you an amazing deal at a resort or amusement park venue.
Ask for recommendations on the following things:
- Customer service and desire to go the extra mile to make sure your vacation is the best.
- Finding what you actually want and not just a similar vacation.
- Variety of booking options that fit your needs and budget.
- Variety of types of travel booking options like resorts, destination experiences, or cruises.
Do your price comparisons in advance. Before you start looking at packages offered by an online travel agency, take the time to look up what you want to do and make note of prices. Include the hotel type, travel type, and things like entertainment options in your budget. Keep a separate tab for things like travel expenses and food costs since many packages won’t include those items.
When you contact your travel agent, you’ll already know how much it would cost you if you did all of the bookings for the vacation by yourself. This helps you to see if they are overcharging, or if they are offering you a good rate. You also will be able to see easily what bonus things they are offering in that rate that you might not be able to secure by yourself.
Great things to consider before contacting an online travel agency:
- Look at lodging cost at the lowest rate, medium, and highest rate available.
- Look at flat cost of entertainment venues if purchased on site
- Look at costs of driving versus flying to destination – make sure to include the cost of any overnight lodging if driving and all checked bags if flying.
- Look at food costs for destination and options available if looking at a resort or all-inclusive option.
- Look at options for group rates at hotels and entertainment venues.
Ask for any current special events. Once you have let them know what you are interested in booking, they will likely give you a few great options. If the pricing isn’t what you are looking for, it is time to start negotiating. You’ll want to have your list from above on hand to make this work to our benefit. Not only will you want to ask them to break down the cost so you can see where they are charging more or less, but you want to know areas you can ask for an extra benefit that would make it worthwhile to book through them instead.
Things to specifically ask for:
- Upgraded rooms or suites.
- Additional entertainment package or extra VIP access to an event.
- Room service credit or meal credits.
- Additional night stay.
- Transportation from airport to resort.
Ask about off season package deals. One of the best reasons to use an online travel agency is that they are privy to all of the best deals. Ther are almost always off season rates at resorts and hotels. You may not see them online when you are comparing prices, but your travel agent will know these prices. Instead of booking for regular popular dates, ask them for better deals if booked during the off-season. This can easily give you just the pricing you need to afford a full vacation for your family instead of a short getaway trip.
Consider traveling in the fall or winter when most travelers are in school or planning holidays with family. While rates at the actual holiday may be higher, there are many periods of time during October, November, and January that offer much lower pricing.
Ask to be included in a group rate or package. Often, an online travel agency can give you an even better rate on your vacation package when they book you along with others for a group rate. If you are included in another group, it can help them reach the group amount needed for a special rate and give you the price you want. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything another group does, but it means you will be staying at the same location at the same time.
As you look at planning an upcoming vacation, don’t hesitate to look to an online travel agency for pricing. Many times you will find that the prices offered are much lower or at minimum very competitive with what you will find when purchasing or booking on your own. You’ll often find the savings and added benefits well worth your time. It may also be a great way to eliminate some frustration in the booking process since you’ll be letting someone else manage the holiday for you.