Take the trouble out of travel planning with the help of a professional travel agent. Instead of adding expense, travel agents save you money thanks to their professional discounts and insider connections. "We act as brokers who shop on behalf of our clients for the best value and price," explain Sam and Jeanette Burke-Ramos of Ebony World Tours in Miami Beach, Florida.
If you’re ready to turn over travel planning stress to a professional travel agent, here are the costs and savings you can expect.
Travel agent fees and discounts
Many travel agents do not charge a fee to their clients for planning standard vacations; they earn money from commissions paid to them through partner vendors. "I am paid on the back end through vendors, so I do not charge a fee unless the arrangements are for excursions only or flights only," explains Megan Wallander of TravelWithLife, Marshfield, Massachusetts. “If the client is looking for a custom itinerary (anything above and beyond one location), then I hold a planning deposit, which is refunded back to the client once we finish booking.” Jason Russell of Grand Sunsations Travel in Reisterstown, Maryland, agrees. “The only time there may be a fee is if I am booking direct airfare only,” he explains. “Those fees range per agent from approximately $25 to $75 per ticket.”
The other advantage of using a travel agent? They are able to provide discounted or free amenities or adventures for the trip.
Travel agents may charge additional fees when extensive itineraries are being created or you are only requesting assistance with flights. Other travel agents may require deposits, to prevent clients from booking elsewhere after the agent has done all the research. "The planning deposit is a flat amount of $100, regardless of the trip parameters," explains Wallander with TravelWithLife. “If you're planning flights only, the fee is $50 per domestic ticket and $100 per international ticket. If you are planning excursions only, the fee is $100 and up, depending on how many excursions you're looking for and where they are.”
Planning a trip
Travel agents book your family vacations, honeymoons, post-graduation adventures, once-in-a-lifetime trips and those times you just want to escape for a bit. Here are some examples of trips planned by travel agents and the cost — if any — to the client:
- 10-day honeymoon to Hawaii and Kauai coordinated by Larry Abramson of North Mississippi Travel Consultants.
- Travel agent fee: $0.
- Total trip cost: $4,000.
- Trip cost included roundtrip airfare, hotels and a rental car.
- 15-day European tour for a mother and daughter coordinated by Abramson of North Mississippi Travel Consultants.
- Travel agent fee: $100 for custom itinerary.
- Total trip cost: $8,000.
- Trip cost included two nights in New York, air travel to and lodging in Prague (for a wedding), then travel and lodging for Rome, Venice and London before returning home.
- All-inclusive trip for two to Jamaica coordinated by Russell of Grand Sunsations Travel.
- Travel agent fee: $0.
- Total trip cost: $3,300.
- Trip cost included airfare, lodging, transportation, travel insurance and all meals.
- Hotel accommodations and activities for a family of five visiting Las Vegas and Phoenix coordinated by Sam and Jeanette Burke-Ramos of Ebony World Tours.
- Travel agent fee to client: $0.
- Total trip cost: $5,680.
- Trip cost included car rentals in both cities, helicopter tour of Grand Canyon, Hummer tour of the Hoover Dam, Jeep tour of Sedona’s ancient ruins, and tickets to Blue Man Group’s show. The itinerary also provided information on popular places for dining and shopping, and local churches.
- 14-day trip for two to Thailand coordinated by Sue Pierce of Cruise Planners / Vacation Adventures Unlimited.
- Travel agent fee: $0
- Total trip cost: $14,000.
- Trip cost included airfare, hotels, private tours, private transportation, specialty restaurants, private evening dinner cruise for two, and private visit with elephants where clients were able to feed and wash the elephants. Travel agent provided a luggage scale and RFID-blocking wallet for the trip.
Popular trip requests
Travel agents have been making adventure dreams come true for ages. Here are some favorite destinations for the clients of top-rated travel agents.
- Vacations to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, as well as cruises and all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, rank high for clients of Abramson at North Mississippi Travel Consultants.
- All-inclusive vacations, cruises, and honeymoon and wedding travel top the charts for clients of Grand Sunsations Travel.
- Honeymoons are one of those things that couples don't have time for when they’re planning a wedding, says Wallander with TravelWithLife.
- Vacation planning is No. 1, followed by flights throughout the Caribbean, Europe, South America, North America and Asia, say Sam and Jeanette Burke-Ramos of Ebony World Tours.