Summer is peak travel season and while many may be tempted to book a summer vacation independently, experts agree there are multiple benefits to working with a travel agent.
Seasoned travellers regularly use travel agents to access the best deals, promotions, advice and guarantees. And, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), seven out of 10 travellers use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations.
“Just like you would use a certified mechanic to fix your car, it makes sense to use a certified travel expert to help plan your summer vacation, especially since you are investing your time and money to create memories that last a lifetime,” said Ken Muskat, CLIA trade relations committee chair and executive vice-president of MSC Cruises. “Travel agents provide a personalized, customized vacation without the stress of planning every detail. Particularly with a cruise vacation, there are so many options today and each cruise brand has a different personality. A travel agent can make sure that they find you the right ship and the right itinerary to give you an amazing experience.”
From ease of planning to tailoring a vacation for each client’s specific needs, agents assist both new-to-cruise travellers to the most seasoned cruisers. CLIA says planning the perfect summer trip starts with finding a great travel agent and the organization’s Agent Finder allows people to find a CLIA-Certified Agent who specializes in cruise vacations.
The following are seven reasons why CLIA says travellers should use a travel agent:
- An Encyclopedia of Cruising: Travel agents are trained and certificated in general cruising as well as the products and destinations, which benefits clients immensely. Agents have answers on everything from, “Which type of cruise ship is best for my family of four?” to “Will the chef know to prepare gluten-free entrees?” Travel agents are experts at the ready and can help plan the most customized vacation for each client, while also answering questions along the way.
- The Real Deal: Cruise agents plan and execute multiple cruise vacations every week so they typically have a finger on the pulse of the industry and are aware of the best deals and discounts. Some may even have access to cruise line discounts that aren’t available to consumers.
- Saving More Than Just Money: In addition to finding the best rates, a travel agent can save clients another valuable resource – time. There is no need to spend hours researching the best deals or destinations. Agents are extremely knowledgeable, have the most up-to-date offers and information and do the legwork whether it’s finding the perfect cabin or planning excursions.
- A Step Ahead: With a travel agent, travellers can often plan out their trip’s most miniscule details prior to boarding the ship. Instead of waiting in line at the surf-simulator or having to rush to the ship spa to book an appointment, travellers with a travel agent can enjoy a nearly hands-free experience where the booking and details have been taken care of in advance.
- The Right Resource: Agents are the best resource when it comes to trouble shooting unforeseen travel glitches, which can save personal time and a vacation due to lost luggage, cancelled excursions, travel delays and more. For example, if a flight is missed or an excursion is cancelled, an agent has the knowledge and tools to efficiently handle refunds and re-booking logistics, leaving travellers stress free and off to enjoy their vacation in no time.
- A Trip Tailored to You: Travel agents not only handle booking travel, but can help find the best cruise for every type of traveller. A travel agent can create a perfect travel experience based on preferences, tastes and travel hopes. Keep in mind, an agent is always armed with the most current information on how to find the right ship, right itinerary, right cabin and right cabin location to guide cruisers in the right direction.
- Up-to-Date Updates: Agents are privy to a cruise line’s updates in real time and know the fastest ways to get up-to-date information. This can range from anything from new spa offerings to changes in the ship’s itinerary. This ensures that cruisers can take advantage of the latest onboard offerings or onshore excursions or plan for any last-minute concerns.