“Agents also know about insider deals,” Nagy said. “They’re also aware of hidden restrictions.”
“The perception was, if you book online it’s cheaper, that’s not true,” Teal said. “You have limited choices.”
Hidden restrictions, such as those online policies or agreements viewers click without reading, could be as simple as saying a hotel isn’t responsible for the type of room the customer receives.
“That beach room you thought you had may not be on the beach,” Nagy said.
Another advantage is when the unexpected happens. For example, two years ago an Icelandic volcano erupted and spewed ash so far it caused all kinds of airline disruptions across the globe. In Western New York during the months of October through March there’s always the threat of snow.
“Any incident, any delays, if you book online, you’ll handle online,” Teal said. “In most cases, there’s no additional costs for travelers with an agent.”
Nagy recalled the volcano, which erupted in April 2010. AAA travel agents had to act fast.
“We were rebooking people before they knew they had to be rebooked,” Nagy said. “Travel agents can be proactive.”
Ironically, the difference for travel agents now as compared to 10 years ago might be their online presence. Agencies for the most part have their own websites, others still are even more active like Teal Travel. It helps connect with and draw clients.
“We’re doing a number of different things,” Teal said. “It’s changed how you deal with people.”
Teal Travel has a Facebook page and Twitter account. There’s also an email list where customers can receive information about travel packages and deals. Teal specializes in family vacations and sports excursions, such as Buffalo Bills road games.
An agent isn’t the only personal travel assistance out there. Some organizations offer group travel programs, where people just have to sign up to participate. For example, the Dale Association offers a number of traveling opportunities for senior citizens.