Traveling is big business and travel agencies keep the free market functioning.
With a travel agent, it allows us to do more comparison-shopping and get the best deal possible. It also forces airlines to be more competitive.
Airlines would rather you buy from them directly because it saves them money, but this is not getting you the best deal out there.
The global distribution systems (GDS) is what travel agencies use that allows comparison-shopping across the planet. But the GDS is not cheap for the seller but they are a lifesaver for airline consumers. It’s much easier for consumers when all the major airline’s airfares and rules are all on one screen.
But this system, which allows comparison-shopping, costs a lot of money. So airlines are always looking for ways to cut costs. Airlines would like to tell you that if there was no ability to comparison shop, then they could keep the prices down for travel.
Why does buying direct cost the consumer more? Because competition helps drives down prices
As a consumer, if you go to individual airline websites to check prices, there is no way for you to comparison-shopping.
Consumers can find competitive rates in the airline world with their computer by going to travel agents like Expedia and Booking, and to metasearch engines like Kayak, Skyscanner, Hipmunk, and so on. These websites provide the elixir that makes the magic of capitalism work for the betterment of the public, airfare comparison-shopping.
Often passengers go first to a metasearch engine to comparison shop and then later purchase directly from the airline. This practice helps put travel agents out of business and drive the costs of airline travel up.
Airlines don’t like airfare competition and do their best to keep you in their clutches
Airlines will withhold information like the ability to purchase fees like seat reservations and checked-baggage fees from travel agents. This requires passengers to have to go to the airline’s website to purchase their tickets. Yes, this is sneaky.
Many airlines will place barriers up for seamless customer service when passengers purchase airfares through travel agents.
Airlines might give out more perks like provide extra frequent flier rewards for fliers who decide to purchase direct.
Many airlines, to make it more cumbersome, will require changes to airline tickets purchased through travel agents to be completed through the travel agents rather than by airline agents.
Airlines seduce passengers often to get them to not comparison shop.
And the list goes on
It’s true online travel agents, corporate agents, and local travel agents save passengers money overall.
Besides having the ability for comparison-shopping, travel agencies have the ability to let consumers create and blend various travel services. It is a travel agents job to sell a complete vacation package to shoppers.
Plus, big corporations like Arthur Anderson, John Deere, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and others all operate with the same capitalistic profit motive. They know that having the ability to comparison shop is a giant money saver for them. This is why corporations put through their travel purchases through travel agencies.
There are a few other perks to using travel agent
Travel agents can often give significant discounts for accommodations purchased together with airfares.
Travel agents can link airfare purchases with hotel reservations, cruises, rental car reservations, and package tours.
A travel agent can offer personalized service in times of trouble when traveling. Travel agents can also often offer extras for other travel portions of an itinerary like early hotel check-in, room upgrades, free breakfast, car upgrades, etc.
Travel agencies can provide corporations a way to ensure travel policies are enforced uniformly and that negotiated corporate discounts are applied to their employees.
Yes, Airfare comparison-shopping keeps the free market working.
Airfare comparison-shopping is key to a traveler’s savings.
Yes, the airline pays more, but consumers benefit enormously.
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.