Saving vacation dollars with a travel agent

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The travel agent is making a comeback and with good reason. After a few years of big competition from the Internet and do-it-yourself bookings, travelers are figuring out that there's often a cost for that convenience.

RuthAnn Hale is a 30 year veteran of the travel industry and manager at The Travel Authority in Middletown, Kentucky. She says the tide is turning, "2 years ago there was very much a dip because of the Internet. People are coming back! There's so much information out there that they get confused" she said.  

Beyond advise and reassurance however, there is often some big savings that a travel agent can offer. And it's typically free. Travel agents get paid from tour operator commissions. "They have contracts with all those resorts for the year. They do them a year in advance and we get the best rates that way" Hale said.  

The Caribbean is a hot spot for this summer vacation travel season. Those same tour operators often lock-in bundle deals with airlines and Hale says she can save her clients through those bookings too because she sees all the rates.

For cruising the Caribbean, a group rate is a great way to cut the cost of your travel package.  Travel agents have access to groups that aren't completely sold, "you as a consumer don't have to have a group" Hale said, "but we can sell into that group space."

It not only saves off the cost of the room, but will get the client the same group bonuses like on-board credit up to $200 and through The Travel Authority, the client would also get American Express reward points.

Wherever you travel, Hale believe travel insurance is a must.

Cruise ships offer travel insurance that guarantees they'll get you to the boat even if a flight delay causes you to miss it, but what people may not know is that your travel agent can offer you the same insurance. A cruise ship will charge children for that insurance, but Hale says her plan provides insurance to children for free.

Another tip for travel this summer, book early for airline travel.  Hale says in their experience this summer air travel prices are pretty set and if you wait too late you may not find a seat for any price.

So bottom line, before booking your next exotic vacation, check with your travel agent!

Copyright 2012 WAVE News. All rights reserved.