TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Planning to get away this winter? You could spend hours online, searching for deals on airfare and accommodations. But time is money... so hiring a travel agent could pay off in the long run. We found out more in this Angie’s List report.
"The Internet has been the best thing that ever happened to good travel agencies. The rotten ones are a dead and dying breed," said travel agent Kathy Duvall.
The number of travel agents has been cut in half over the last 15 years, but those still standing are thriving. The American Society of Travel Agents says the country’s 64,000 agents account for 80-percent of all travel sold in the United States.
"Hiring an experienced travel agent can be a great idea if you’ve got a complicated trip or if you’re traveling internationally. They’ll be able to coordinate the hotels, the airfare, any tours you want to take, and they may have access to special packages that you couldn’t find on your own," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Duvall adds: "We have contacts and friends everywhere. Not only with the wholesalers that offer these resorts, but also with the on-the-ground transfer people, the general managers, the sales people, everybody."
If there's a chance you'll get stranded at the airport, a good travel agent is usually one step ahead. They can track your progress and step in when things go wrong.
"They text me. I say no worries, I’ll follow your plane. By the time they land and they’re late, their flight information has already been updated. I text them – here’s your next flight, go catch it, have a great time," said Duvall.
If your vacation is more low-key, like a weekend away or a trip you take each year, a travel agent may not be worth the investment. But if you’re thinking about a resort vacation or a cruise, a travel agent's expertise could serve you well.
"Just because it floats doesn’t mean it’s a good cruise experience," warns Duvall.
Experts say you need to feel comfortable with the agent you choose, like they're a trusted friend... so if you don’t build a quick rapport, you may need to find someone else.
Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.