Travelers today often associate the word “travel agency” with an outdated business model: a company that will sell you on all-inclusive hotels, cruise-ships, even group tours. But this isn’t exactly always the case anymore.
With the rise of the internet and OTA’s in the early 2000’s, which allowed for the DIY trip planning movement, the number of traditional travel agencies dropped, and the industry had to adapt to a new way of travel.
Today, however, there is a growing demand for travel agents, especially amongst millennials - but the type of trip they are seeking is wildly different from those that traditional agents used to plan!
Younger Generations are Changing Travel
Millennials are leading the change, and shifting away from traditional travel - which is more repetitive, passive, comfortable, and touristy - towards a more alternative and experiential form of traveling - where travelers want an active, immersive, and local experience in unique locations, oftentimes traveling to more than one destination.
Travelers today do not want a prepackaged travel brochure, but instead want a completely personalized travel experience to more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Goodbye traditional all-inclusive Cancun holidays, hello road-trip through Vietnam!
BUT… These Trips Take Time to Plan
Some people enjoy the process of researching and booking their own trip, but the majority of travelers think it can be stressful and frustrating. And even if you are a DIY’er, let’s face it, planning these complicated alternative trips takes time!
Sure, if you want to go for the weekend to New York, all you have to do is buy a flight and get a hotel, so you might not see the need for help, but if you want to go scuba diving in Raja Ampat in Indonesia, you have to figure out that you need to first fly into Jakarta, then take a small budget airline that will leave you on another small island, where you’ll probably have to spend the night, and catch the ferry the Raja Ampat the next day. Afterwards, you’ll have to find a hotel with good and safe scuba diving providers, and a boat that will take you from the main port of the island of your hotel. And all of this without breaking the bank!
That may sound like fun to plan for a select few with plenty of time on their hands, but for most, it is simply overwhelming.
The majority of us spend most of our days working, and even in our free time, between house chores and relaxing, it’s hard to dedicate enough time to plan such a trip.
This is why discerning travelers, who understand that time is money, have begun seeking out travel companies that can help them with this task. Not all agencies can offer such experiential travel, yet modern online travel companies like Jubel focus on helping people plan and book personalized alternative travel.
Unlike an OTA like Expedia or Tripadvisor, an experienced travelled agent can help you achieve the adventure you seek, by guiding you in your research, or even taking over completely, if you wish to take a total hands-off approach.
The average DIY traveler spends about 30 hours planning their vacation, and, before fully booking and deciding anything, visits approximately 38 different websites. Though 30 hours may not sound like that much, it is the equivalent of four full working days!
Between the hours of researching destinations - consulting books, blogs, websites, reviews, and friends -, the hours spent looking for the right hotel and figuring out the complicated logistics - will you take a car, a bus, a plane, a ferry, a train, etc - , and the hours spent on the actual shopping, trip planning can be a true burden. Your vacation should be relaxing and fun the whole way through.
The internet has given us millions of options, and although it is a blessing at times to have all the information in the world, it can also be overwhelming to try to make sense of all the options. Why not bring in a professional to help you?
Getting Help With Trip Planning
Many travelers are opting to get help, and there is no shame in outsourcing time-consuming activities!
With a complicated, alternative trip, your options are to either spend the 30 hours researching and booking, settling for simpler, less exciting destinations, or spending a fraction of that time with a travel agent who can help you go to the exciting destinations worth seeing.
A travel agent is not just a person booking flights, it is someone with travel experience and with the knowledge to recommend that, rather than going to Thailand in the summer, it would be better to go to Indonesia due to weather patterns. They will also tell you about passport requirements, visas, vaccines, and all other important information.
A travel professional can help you plan a trip quickly, effectively, and without stress. And because it’s an actual person, they will be able to understand what you are really seeking and help you plan your perfect trip.
Is it affordable?
Once again, travel companies have the bad reputation of being expensive tools meant only for the elite. Yet, not all agencies cater to luxury travelers, in fact, Jubel, can cater to the needs of the ‘average’ international traveler.
Is it a lot more expensive than planning it yourself?
Honestly, it isn’t. If you try to plan the exact trip yourself, you might get a slightly better deal, but you will have put 4 full-days of work into it.
Also, agencies can get many perks and upgrades for you that you could not have gotten yourself, and they can recommend and suggest destinations during their shoulder seasons and truly optimize the value of your dollar.
Furthermore, booking a trip with an agency is faster. Instead of searching for months for destinations, flights and hotels before booking and paying, you can get this done in a matter of days. A few week’s difference when booking can, in fact, save you a lot of money because of price fluctuations.
How are travel companies keeping up with the digital age?
Some agencies continue running on the old business model, where you have to physically go and talk to an agent. Though eating cookies at a local agent’s office may be nice, it also is a big time commitment. You have to either leave work early, cut in your precious lunchtime, or sacrifice your weekend.
However, many younger travel companies are looking to fill a gap between technology and the human touch. Jubel, for example, operates solely online. You begin the process with a detailed 10-minute survey, explaining your preferences, likes and dislikes. Then you interact with your agent over email or phone, and finally you receive a completely personalized proposal. Instead of 30+ hours, you might spend up to one hour between the survey, emails, reviewing the proposal and paying. No need to go anywhere, no need to research. Your week goes on as usual and at the end of it, you can have a perfect trip booked!
Furthermore, you’ll even receive a package with all the information and with recommendations on what to eat, drink, see, and do in each destination!
Travel Companies offer other perks
Travel agents offer many perks apart from a seamless service.
Oftentimes, they have availability to rooms that otherwise seem unavailable online, for example. A travel agent is also really practical in moments of flight cancellations or even in emergencies. Having someone calm on the ground who can help you out in an emergency is definitely a nice perk.
Some travel companies have also begun focusing on even more niche alternative travelers. Some plan you trips that take you to destinations characters go to in various novels, others focus on extreme sports, and others, offer surprise trips for the people who want the perks of a travel agent and of not over-researching a trip, but they also want to feel the thrill and excitement of not knowing where they will be sent off to next!
Travelling changes lives. Through travel, especially experiential travel, you learn about new cultures, open your world-view, and you even learn more about yourself. Don’t let the lack of time or a non-luxury budget stop you from traveling the world! Take a chance, relax, trust, and let yourself be helped.
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