Look around the airport when a flight is canceled and it’s easy to see which travelers booked their airline tickets with a travel agent or advisor; they’re the ones sipping drinks at the bar, knowing that their travel advisor is taking care of everything.

Why use a travel agent or travel advisor? Travel advisors have the knowledge and connections to know which hotels, resorts and tour guides would work best for you and to enhance your trip with one-of-a-kind experiences, tailored to your interests, that you’d never find on your own.

They’ll also be there to smooth out problems that might occur along the way. Plus, they often have access to special fares, discounts and perks, such as complimentary upgraded room or cabin categories, free breakfasts and VIP treatment.

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Why use a travel advisor

frequently asked questions

If you have never consulted with a travel advisor, you probably have questions about how they work, what they can do for you, and what you should expect to pay for their services. Here are the answers to the questions we are most often asked. If you have additional questions please reach out to ASTA.

You may not. If you’re simply booking a flight to stay with relatives or staying at a resort you’ve frequented and loved in the past, you may be fine on your own. But even then, there are benefits to booking with a travel advisor. For example, he or she might advise you about which airport offers the most reliable connections so you don’t spend hours or even a night in an airport. Your travel advisor also might be able to get you a special deal at your resort or suggest a getaway that you’d like even better. And if your flight is canceled, your travel advisor can probably handle your rebooking far better than you could.

More importantly, a travel advisor helps you sift through the confusing array of hotels, tours, cruises, and even room types to make sure that your trip fits your dreams and your budget. They’ll also open your eyes to special experiences you might not think of and prevent and/or sort out any snafus that might come up during your trip. And they often have access to money-saving deals, upgrades and perks that can enhance your trip.

Travel advisors especially earn their stripes as heroes when disasters such as the pandemic or a hurricane strike and they have to pull strings and use their creativity, knowledge and sometimes, their connections, to get their clients home. 

Most do, especially if they are arranging a very elaborate itinerary. Fees vary greatly, from negligible to $100 and up, depending on the complexity of the trip. At the very top end, one travel agency charges a $100,000 membership fee just to be a client—but that is very unusual. Most offer a free consultation and will advise you then of their fee structure.

As with choosing any professional, recommendations from friends and family are helpful if they have similar interests, budgets and travel styles to yours. It’s also a good idea to look for specialists and certification. The ASTA website lets you search for an ASTA advisor by specialty (family, LGBTQ, adventure, river cruising, skiing, etc) and by destination. You also can add their office location to your search criteria to find a local travel advisor, which can be nice, especially if you would like to meet face-to-face. There’s also an option to specify if you want an ASTA Verified Travel Advisor (VTA); these are experienced travel advisors who must take and pass a rigorous curriculum to be certified.  

A good first step is to work with an ASTA member. The ASTA logo is recognized around the world as a symbol of professionalism and integrity and members must adhere to a code of ethics, which ASTA enforces.

Expect to answer a lot of questions about everything from the hobbies and special interests of you and your travel companions to what you’ve enjoyed and hated about previous trips. It’s important to answer thoughtfully and honestly because those questions will be the basis for the recommendations the advisor will make. Think in advance about your travel dreams, your budget, and any specific needs or concerns you have. The advisor should also disclose their fee, if any, and what services they provide (24/7 availability if there are issues while you’re traveling, perks they can provide, etc.)

Probably not. There are two components a travel advisor brings to their work: their expertise and their understanding of your needs. The more trips a travel advisor plans for you, the better they understand your needs. And travel advisors have a network of experts to tap into if there’s a place or an experience they don’t know personally.  So as long as you’ve been happy with your advisor, we suggest sticking with him or her.

The term “travel agent” dates back to a simpler era when the agent’s job was to book steamship, airline and train tickets. As travel became more complex, their work evolved from booking agents for suppliers to trusted advisors to consumers — akin to financial agents and CPAs — who make the overall travel experience better and provide leisure and business travelers maximum value for their travel dollar.

American Society of Travel Advisors

123 N Pitt St, Ste 400, Alexandria, VA 22314 U.S.A.

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