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Can travel agents get better deals?

Remember when booking flights online first took off and everyone predicted it would be the end of travel agents?

It was a huge worry for the industry, while holiday makers had the best of both worlds. Just type ‘cheap travel’ into Google and up comes a plethora of flights for you to pick out the like the yummy strawberry chocolate in a box of Cadburys.

But invariably you are paying way more than you need to by doing it all yourself.

A lot has changed since Covid, and you might find travel agents can get better deals than putting it together yourself.

We used surf around online for cheap flights, book them with the click of the mouse on our credit cards then start trawling through all the places to stay.

But if you’re not staying on the couch at your friends’ place, this might not be the cheapest way afterall.

Read on for how to get a great deal through a travel agent…

Girls sharing room

I was talking to a product manager from a large travel agency, and she was telling me that a lot of people who book their own flights online to grab cheap seats miss out on the accommodation options that travel agencies often throw in for next to nothing.

They can do this because they buy a set number of rooms from, let’s use MGM as an example (which own several Las Vegas hotels), in advance which can be sold across their agency group.

As another example, at the time of writing, her company had return flights from Auckland and two nights in Sydney starting at $369. I decided to check it out for myself so went online and searched for individual flights (about $320 was the cheapest I found) then I went onto the hotel website that this starting price is being calculated on and rooms start from NZ$95 per night.

Therefore, the total to book this myself online = $500. But I would save $130 by booking this air/land package from the travel agency.

I tried the same on flights and accommodation in Fiji. They had a deal that included return flights from Auckland plus four nights at a resort (which was meant to be fabulous according to my sister who had stayed there) starting at $1189 pp.

I Googled flights – randomly in the travel period – and could fly return for NZ$720. Then I tried booking four nights in a beachfront studio at this resort (the starting price in the package) directly on the hotel website and would pay an additional $936.

So the total price to book this Fiji holiday myself: $1650. But the saving made by booking the travel agency air/land package = nearly $500.

I was gobsmacked. I had no idea!

And that’s before we get to how valuable travel agents are now, post Covid, keeping up with all the rules and regulations and sorting out any delays or cancellations you might encounter.

So there you go. Before you let your fingers do your own walking, subscribe to airline and travel agents newsletters so you can scoop up the deals when they come through.

World in hands
The whole world!

Read more:

Travel agent fees are the new normal as the travel industry is reset for the future. In this post I discuss what to expect to pay for a bespoke itinerary and what you get for your buck.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!