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Expedia vs. DIY vs. Travel Advisor: Which One Should You Choose?
Potential clients often ask, “What’s the difference between working with you to book my vacation and using another resource, like Travelocity or Costco?”
This is a great question! In such a busy world, it’s important to make the best use of your vacation time. After all, you can’t get it back!
As a professional travel advisor, my job is designing unique, extraordinary vacations for my clients. But the truth is that some people don’t necessarily need a custom trip designed to their specifications. Some people enjoy hopping onto Expedia or Costco and booking a quick, pre-packaged trip. And that’s perfectly fine!
While I love booking trips for my clients, I want to make sure we’re making the best choice for you, even if that means you choose to go in another direction. So in this article, I’ll be 100% honest about the pros and cons of using a travel advisor vs. taking the DIY approach.
Let’s dive in!
To Each His Own...But Be Realistic! I love how diverse people can be. Some people love high-end craft beer, while others are happy with a cheap (but tasty!) Bud-Light. Some folks like giant trucks, while others drive Smart cars. And when it comes to vacations, some people like a traditional beach and BBQ getaway, while others crave something a little more exotic, like an Amazonian river cruise or an African luxury safari. Many people prefer arranging vacations themselves, especially when the trip is fairly straightforward. Are you renting a condo in Florida for a week and driving down with your family? You may not need much help with that. But when itineraries get more complicated, travel planning can easily become more stressful. Consider a family taking a vacation to France: they’ll need airfare purchased (which could be bought on different credit cards, making seating arrangements harder to arrange), accommodations (who is rooming with who?), transportation in the country (are they going by private car, train, bus, or taxi?), and tours and activities. All of these details can be a lot to manage! Which is why some travelers prefer to employ the services of a travel advisor who can confidently take charge of the entire process. Consider the above example of the family trip to France. The average traveler taking the DIY approach might spend ten, twenty, or even more hours organizing the trip. The average travel advisor, on the other hand, can plan a fabulous trip in far less time! Are you wondering which approach you’d like to take to book your next vacation? Here are the pros and cons of each approach.
Online Travel Agencies
Online Travel Agency PROS:
A wide variety of products are accessible to you 24/7, at your fingertips
Can compare prices easily
Often offers lower pricing
An easy option for cheap air and hotel - if you get the absolute most affordable option is your priority, this might be a better option for you.
Online Travel Agency CONS:
All program and algorithm-based.
Reviews are not always relevant or reliable. Unlike when you use a trip advisor that knows your priorities, personality likes and dislikes, etc.
No personal connection/relationship. Just a person working in a call center that you may or may not actually be able to speak to
You have to do the work and waste hours
No help if something goes wrong
An online travel agency, like Expedia or Orbitz, is an online marketplace where consumers can research and purchase travel services such as flights, hotel bookings, and tours. Millions of people around the world regularly use these online agencies to plan vacations and book business travel. And why not? They’re very efficient and usually fairly cheap! Sometimes they even feature special offers like flash sales and perks to entice online buyers. However, the online booking platforms come with downsides. If you want any sort of consulting or outside advice for your trip, you’re out of luck. These websites are strictly for booking purposes only. You’ll also need to consider the reliability of reviews. Have you ever looked at a hotel property on one of these sites? The reviews can often seem very scattered. Some travelers may love everything about a property, while others may criticize a hotel as one of the worst places they’ve ever stayed! This variability in experience isn’t always due to the hotel itself. Sometimes it’s due to the traveler’s personal preferences. And a computer algorithm simply doesn’t understand your personal likes and dislikes the way a professional travel advisor does! Interested in learning more about the pros and cons of using online travel agencies? Check out my other article here!
DIY: Do It Yourself
You get to have fun planning.
You get to go down huge rabbit holes while researching
You can find things that you will enjoy, not just what you are shown
You will have to devote hours upon hours to the task
No one to help if you make a mistake
You aren’t an insider, so you don’t have access to options I have access to
You can’t VIP yourself.
Checking every detail and logistics during vacation can be stressful
As a novice, you may not be aware of everything that could go wrong.
Are you the kind of person who loves doing projects on your own? Is your house a medley of homemade items, custom-built shelving, and furniture designs of your own making? If so, DIY travel planning may appeal to you. But in reality, travel is one arena in which the DIY approach is usually not ideal. Here’s why: Planning travel on your own means you’re overseeing every aspect of your trip, from booking air to hotel reservations to researching tours and activities. You’ll have to pull each element of the trip together by contacting each travel supplier individually. And for some go-getters, this can be fun! But if you don’t have tons of time to burn, and you’re not completely sure of what you want, DIY-ing your travel could end up costing you in time, money, and enjoyment of your precious vacation time. Remember that if you DIY your trip, not only could you be missing out on better, “hidden” options that a travel advisor would know about, but you’re also unable to secure many of the perks that a travel advisor can offer you. Things like room upgrades, hotel credits, and VIP treatment are pretty standard with most travel advisor bookings. But the average Joe can’t secure these things on his own. Also, remember that DIY-ing it can mean blind spots in your planning. You don’t know what you don’t know. Travel planning without really knowing what you’re doing could create problems you didn’t even know were possible! I have another article dedicated to educating my clients on the DIY approach. You can check it out here!
Hiring a Travel Advisor Travel Advisor PROS:
You get a personalized travel plan.
Someone is always there for you in case of an emergency
They have the expertise and knowledge
May save cost
Travel Advisor CONS:
Someone else plans your trip - you’ll need to relinquish some control!
Cost might increase
When you think of a travel advisor, what image comes to mind? Is it a 1960’s secretary-type, booking airfare to Hawaii from an office desk? The truth is, travel advisors (or travel agents, as we were formerly known) have been stereotyped for a long time. And for a while, economists even predicted that we’d disappear from the marketplace completely. After all, when you have the internet, who needs a travel advisor? But the reality is that we’re still here, and we’re actually stronger than ever! The travel difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic proved the need for travelers to have someone in their corner more than ever. When booking a trip, remember that a travel advisor has access to so much information that the average person simply cannot access. We have professional memberships, private hotel, and tour databases, plus the personal relationships we’ve nurtured over the years with our various travel partners around the world. Your travel advisor is your go-to person for expert travel guidance. We can take a simple request like “We want to visit Hawaii” and turn it into something magical. We know you and your personal preferences, so we can easily match you to the kinds of services you’ll love! Not everyone loves the Ritz-Carlton or the Waldorf Astoria. And that’s okay. We know where to find the types of properties and experiences that fit your unique personality. And we find great joy in doing so! If you’re interested in learning more about the many, many benefits of working with a travel advisor, check out my article here! Now that you’ve learned more about different travel planning methods, which one appeals to you the most?
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