Travel agent hotel benefits can make any stay at a hotel a real vacation
Many travelers who prefer to do it themselves for simple trips will only call a travel agent for something complicated or fascinating. But, in many cases, when someone is looking for a special short getaway to a hotel or resort, travel agent hotel benefits might be more valuable than they think.
When it’s the least expensive place to stay in a city after a party, one of the many apps or sites might have the best deal. And, many small bed and breakfast places don’t work with travel agents. However, when it’s a more excellent hotel, travel agent hotel benefits can be helpful and do better than travelers could do directly.
Many agencies will charge a fee for hotel bookings. Of course, it often depends on the hotel in question and whether it’s a booking for a regular client. Alas, for real bargain hunters, agents are least likely to waive a fee for a real budget property because there will be very little or zero commission in it for the agency.
#1 Travel agents often have good relationships with hotels and hotel representatives.
My hotel contacts might be the most valuable travel agent hotel benefits I have in the industry. If someone’s celebrating an occasion or is a good client, I’ll VIP them whenever possible. So will many agents.
Practically speaking, while hotel people travel the world, the local representatives visit agencies most frequently. Those are often among the best relationships.
With many hotel groups, while most properties may be overseas, representatives have clout here in the US. For example, most Taj Hotels properties are in international locations. However, representatives can still be beneficial with their Boston and San Francisco hotels. These benefits range from upgrading rooms to sending nice welcome amenities.
When a booking is made through a website, mainly a third-party site, the hotel may only end up with a fraction of the revenue. An agency commission is most likely at most 10 percent. As hotel representatives have told me, agency clients tend to be better informed and cause fewer problems. (“What, you mean you charge for parking? What, my half-price room doesn’t come with a bay view? What, that rate doesn’t include tax?” etc.)
In addition, sales representatives work with the travel industry. Their performance is rated in part by the number of bookings that come through an agency. It’s in their interest to be nice to our clients.
#3 Agencies often have access to special rates
Among travel advisors/agents, hotel benefits are association rates unavailable to the general public. It might only be a 10 percent discount on a pricey hotel that can add up. Sometimes the deals are significant.
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#4 Many top hotels negotiate deals with high-end consortiums
Associations like Signature Travel Network and Virtuoso can save travelers money when arranged by travel agents. For example, our agency, part of Signature, has free breakfast for clients at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, late checkout, and a $100 spa credit. There is a similar deal at the Sonoma Mission Inn and an upgrade if available.
What drives agents nuts is when we hear that a regular client or friend has gone to an expensive hotel for a couple of days, but “didn’t want to bother us.”
#5 A good travel agent can save you time as well as money
Sometimes, you don’t have the time to read all the information online or read competing reviews. Again, if you have an agent who knows your tastes and hotel frequent guest programs, they are likely to be able to match you with a local hotel that will make you happy.
Will it always be better to book a hotel through a travel agency? No. Sometimes, our options may be limited and/or expensive during conferences or peak periods. But if you have a regular agent, asking never hurts. We’ll tell you if it’s something we can help you with or if we can beat a price you’ve already found. Sometimes, a good agent can help turn any stay, anywhere, into one of your best getaways.
Janice Hough is a California-based travel agent a travel blogger and a part-time comedy writer. A frequent flier herself, she’s been doing battle with airlines, hotels, and other travel companies for over three decades. Besides writing for Travelers United, Janice has a humor blog at Leftcoastsportsbabe.com (Warning, the political and sports humor therein does not represent the views of anyone but herself.)