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It's 2016 and I Just Became a Travel Agent: Here's Why You Still Need Me

Imagine the setting: I'm living in New York City, happily employed at one of the best advertising agencies in the country. I have a six figure income, great clients and interesting work.
01/05/2016 05:13pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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photo credit: Travel via photopin (license)

Imagine the setting: I'm living in New York City, happily employed at one of the best advertising agencies in the country. I have a six figure income, great clients and interesting work.

One day, I see a banner ad (yes, a banner ad!) that says something like "Travel Agents On The Rise! Click Here To Learn More!"

I click through. Remember, I work in advertising!
After that, my life would never be the same.

Travel is an icebreaker topic that's easy to discuss. I think everyone "enjoys" travel. It's fodder for countless cocktail party and conference room conversations.

"What do you do for fun?"
"Oh, I love to travel!"
"Me too!"

I'm a little different. Travel is part of my soul, part of who I am. Growing up in middle-of-nowhere Missouri, I dreamed of the exciting places I could visit and the unique people I could meet.

My first attempt at a travel career occurred around age nine, when I documented a family camping trip to Colorado. I am certain this "best selling travel guide" was high prose in a Mead notebook. It was a dramatic journey filled with airbrushed t-shirt shops, lost shoes and a broken tent stake.

As I grew older, I visited those exciting places and I met those unique people. I've lived all over the US and I've traveled the world. My personal adventures have taken me throughout the Caribbean, Europe, South America and Africa.

Fast forward to 27 years later and that haunting banner ad. People still use travel agents? "Ok," I thought. "I'm game."

I'll skip the details of "how," though that is another interesting story.
Spoiler alert: Yes, I went to travel school. No, I didn't go with the one from the banner ad!

Here I am, less than one year later and I've done it. I am following my dream and I've become a certified travel agent. If everything goes as planned, I'll be a successful one. I booked $30K of travel in my first month alone.

In 2015, Forbes magazine wrote an article titled "How the Internet Created The Superstar Travel Agent." The article reveals something we can all relate to... the massive, overwhelming amount of information online has created a need for experts to cut through the clutter.

In the age of DIY and everything internet, here is why you still need a travel agent:

  • You're Tired of Wasting Time: Ever been down the overwhelming rabbit hole of researching a vacation? Save time and go with an expert who has been trained in your destination. You'll cut through the junk and get what you want.

  • You're Tired of the Fine Print: I've seen those hyperbole-filled online deals. "99 Flights to Europe! All inclusives At $5 A Day!" Read closer and they aren't what they seem. A skilled travel agent can help you decipher the clues. Is that a direct flight, or will you have a three-leg 25 hour journey? Are transfers included? Is that resort under construction? Is the beach filled with seaweed? Ask a travel agent and you'll know.
  • You're Tired of Buyers Remorse: Have you ever clicked "buy now" and then immediately felt anxious? Don't settle for wondering if you've done the right thing. Travel agents have endless resources at their fingertips to answer any question you might have. Trust me, we've heard it all. Agents network and share resources. If we don't know an answer, we will find someone who does.
  • I recently read a quote that I love: "What's the difference between a travel agent and the internet? A travel agent can talk back." The best part of my job is asking questions. A good travel agent won't make blind recommendations. A good travel agent will ask questions, dig in for detail and really understand what works best for you and your family.

    Your vacation days and travel dollars are precious, so why put your faith in a faceless, nameless website? You deserve expert advice and value for your dollar. Go retro and use a travel agent!

    This post first appeared on Alpaca Your Bags Travel Blog