Top 5 Reasons an Online Travel Agency can Save You Money

There are more than five reasons an online travel agency can save you money but the top five is a great start. Global statistics are pointing to the trend that online shopping for travel deals is way ahead of online shopping for books, electronics and clothing. For example, in Canada, about 45% of Canadians in 2007 looked for an online travel agency to book their travel, that’s a 9% increase from 2005 reports.

Here are the top five reasons why an online travel agency can save you money:
1. No overhead – many online travel agencies don’t have a physical location where they have to purchase furniture, supplies, and hire staff. In fact, many online travel agents operate from the comfort of their homes. All they need is a high speed Internet connection and access to global reservations systems. So the money they save on rent, utilities, personnel and other logistics constitute savings they can pass on to their customers. By booking online, you also save on trips to and from a travel agency in your area. You not only save money, you save precious time and gas.

2. Comparison shopping – by searching for travel deals online, you have the luxury of comparing prices provided by various online travel agencies. The idea is to read the fine print. You can compare them on the basis of:

* Actual fares and discounts
* Package deals
* Coupons and freebies
* Travel insurance
* Group discounts
* Last minute bookings
* Variety of travel deals (do they specialize in a particular country or to a particular age group?)
* Senior citizens’ deals
* Hotels and meals and transportation
* Tour guides
* Penalties for cancellations

That’s the beauty of online shopping. You’re not scampering from one travel office to another just to get an idea on prices. You can compare online deals and then narrow down your choices to three, ten or fifteen. If you have time on your hands, you can really save yourself some money by doing diligent research.

3. Ticket consolidation – many online travel agencies have access to a database of discounted tickets. Sometimes when they have excess inventory, they are forced to get rid of as many tickets to make way for the next travel season where they can purchase in bulk. Travel agents usually share information on discount tickets that are still available for sale, and prices are reduced on these tickets for “selloff.”

Air travel consolidators allow customers to compare airfares from as many airlines as possible for a specific route and for a specific time period. Not only can you save money on your ticket, but you can also find the best flight that suits your schedule best.

4. Wide network of travel-related services – online travel agents, through frequent bookings and constant research have a wealth of information that some travel agents with no online presence don’t have. Because of their ability to network rapidly with various people who work in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, railway and restaurants, online travel agents are able to find the best deals for you.

The name of the game is called “relationship building.” Through frequent contact, online travel agents can squeeze out more discounts and free coupons from tour operators and hospitality establishments like hotels and restaurants. Instead of spending $ 10.00 for your lunch while travelling, your agent can offer you a meal ticket in exchange for your business, not to mention the fare discounts they are also able to offer.

5. One-stop shopping – travel writers know about the “clout” of travel agents. When it comes to flight arrangements, rental cars, tour excursions, cruise information and accommodation, and hotels, travel agents have a lot of clout. They can provide a complete travel package, including shuttle service to and from the airport and even the services of a personal tour guide if requested. By doing all your travel and travel-related shopping with a reputable online travel agency, there is no telling how much you can get done within a short amount of time.

Note that your online travel agent has more buying power than individual passengers when it comes to airline seats, hotel accommodation or cabin space in the yacht.

It used to be that travelling last minute was expensive. Not anymore with online travel agents! In many cases, unsold seats on flights or unsold rooms in hotels are offered to travel agents a few weeks before departure date at considerably discounted rates so they can be sold immediately. If you are travelling last minute, ask your online travel agent for last minute budget deals. Chances are you might get what you want, provided your travel dates don’t fall within peak travel times. But you have to ask, not assume that it will be offered automatically!

Shawn Thomas is a freelance writer who writes about the travel industry and vacation tips, often discussing a particular aspect of the travel industry such as working with travel agents.

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