MONTROSE, California - August 26, 2009 -- Internet or travel agent? It's a dilemma many people wrestle with when planning their next vacation. But a recent report finds that some consumers may be returning to the traditional travel agent for trip-planning purposes.
Results of Forrester Research's just-released study, "Using Digital Channels to Calm the Angry Traveler" by Henry Harteveldt, reveal there are 15% fewer travelers who enjoy using the web in 2009 than there were in 2007. Just 1 in 3 online travelers in the U.S. feels that travel websites do a good job presenting travel choices, down from 39% in 2008. In addition, 26% of travelers surveyed would consider using an offline travel agent, compared to 23% in 2008.
Most travel agents agree that the web adequately serves travelers' needs for certain trip requests. "If it's simply purchasing an airline ticket or booking a room at a well-known hotel chain, travelers can easily book these from our website, MontroseTravel.com," says Joe McClure, President of Montrose Travel, which has been in business since 1956. "The Internet has made those types of transactions easy for most travelers. On the other hand, if your trip involves multiple destinations or several trip components, or you're seeking a truly unique and personal vacation, that's when an experienced, well-connected travel agent can really make a difference."
Experienced travel specialists can use their longtime connections to secure that "sold out" room or coveted aisle seat. Indeed, many travelers enjoy numerous special privileges because of the long-standing relationships their travel agents have developed over the years with travel suppliers.
Here are five other scenarios when a travel agent's expertise may outperform the electronic variety:
If you're going on a cruise: With more than 50 cruise lines currently offering hundreds of thousands of staterooms in more than 20 different categories, where does one begin to narrow the choices for this very popular vacation option? Try a travel agent. MontroseTravel.com certainly offers perks and benefits on cruise specials when available, but some people prefer to speak to travel counselors who stay plugged in to what's hot - and what's not - by frequently going on cruises and ship inspections and attending industry workshops. Montrose Travel, with their huge volume and close partnerships with suppliers, has Travel Professionals that will work on your behalf to get you the best price, plus the special perks and benefits unavailable when booked directly with the cruise line. For instance, Montrose Travel can book you on one of its popular Ensemble® Hosted Cruises, which offers the extra attention of a knowledgeable host when needed during the cruise, plus other privileges like a private cocktail party onboard and a complimentary Ensemble® Experience shore event, ranging from gourmet luncheons and private museum openings to special musical performances and personally guided wildlife cruises. Expect the same insider information and special deals from many travel agents when it comes to independent or escorted tours. Montrose Travel is able to offer these unique experiences through its affiliation with Ensemble Travel Group, an international organization of nearly 900 travel agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Headquartered in New York, Ensemble Travel Group creates special travel adventures exclusively for its member agencies to offer their clients.
If your trip is complex: A vacation involving a 10-day Mediterranean cruise followed by a week on your own driving the Grand Corniche into Monte Carlo and on to Provence requires numerous airline, cruise, hotel, and car reservations. Arrival and departure times, hotel check-in and check-out policies, directions to the rental car agency, all can be overwhelming to most travelers. Leave those critical details (they're all interconnected, too) to a travel counselor who has instant access to it all. The travel pro can probably even give you turn-by-turn directions to pick up your car in Nice (and what to do if rental agency is closed when you drop it off), not to mention the best café for people-watching along the famous "Croisette" in Cannes.
If you're looking for the out-of-the-ordinary: As more people search for the "road less traveled" when it comes to vacation experiences, savvy travel agents are creating quite a following in creating personalized "over-the-top" vacations for their adventurous clients. For instance, Montrose Travel has access to hundreds of unique experiences for their clients - oftentimes off-limits to the general public. Interested in complimentary breakfast for two in a 13th-century Irish castle? Sipping champagne at the foot of a waterfall in Hawaii? Building a nomad home out of felt, wood, and rope in Mongolia? Arriving by seaplane for a romantic private lunch on a remote Scottish Loch? Whether it's staying in a centuries-old castle or partaking in a culturally enriched encounter led by experts such as an Ensemble Inspired Journeys itinerary, travelers have hundreds of these kinds of unique experiences to choose from when they book their vacation with a Montrose Travel Professional.
If you're traveling overseas: Do I need a passport and/or visa? What inoculations are required for entry? Are there security issues or travel advisories for this country? These are just three of a myriad of questions that a travel agent can answer for you within minutes. Travel counselors also have access to the specific locale and region, such as which museums are closed for renovation, which holidays shut down the city, and which festivals are coming up. Also, depending on your destination, certain "undiscovered" spots may not be accessible via the mainstream airlines (and by most travelers). Not to worry, as travel agencies like Montrose Travel have relationships with charter carriers and lesser-known airlines to get you to your hidden treasure.
If you want an ally 24/7: Many people like the comfort in knowing they have a built-in problem solver if anything should happen along the way. When your flight to Ft. Lauderdale is cancelled (meaning you may miss your cruise), or the resort has lost your reservation (and it's sold out for the next three days), or you've slipped and broken your leg while shopping along the Strøget in Copenhagen (and you're in desperate need of a doctor), who are you going to call? If you booked it through an agency, you've got help - immediately and round-the-clock. "Our clients have our home phone numbers and cell phones to contact us in the case of an emergency after hours," said McClure. "Also, clients calling in to Montrose Travel after hours can have access to a live person any time, any day with Montrose Travel's Worldwide Platinum 24-hour Service." Travel agents can also recommend ways for you to save money without jeopardizing the quality of the vacation experience. Changing your departure or return date, selecting a similar but slightly different room at the resort, or modifying your choice of travel supplier in many instances will reap great savings.
If you're seeking extraordinary experiences, insider connections, VIP treatment, and exclusive perks and privileges not possible on your own - plus the benefit of a real person - there's none better than a travel agent!
ABOUT MONTROSE TRAVEL
Celebrating 52 years in business, Montrose Travel, a family-owned travel management company, has grown from 14 employees in 1990 to more than 150 today and is now firmly established as a Top 50 Travel Management Company and a Top 5 Host Agency nationwide at $110 million. Montrose Travel strives to provide the highest quality services and most complete leisure, corporate and group travel management solutions for its customers and home-based travel agents. Growth has been solely out of the reinvestment of profit and positive cash flow. Montrose Travel "will be here tomorrow to back up our promises of today!"
Montrose Travel can be reached at 1-800-MONTROSE (666-8767) or by visiting www.montrosetravel.com. Visit Montrose Travel's Corporate Division at www.montrosecorporatetravel.com or call 1-(800) 766-4687. Home-based independent agents may visit www.MTravel.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-(800) 870-5799.