What’s the difference between a travel planner and a travel agent?
When I started Retreats by Rachel, I found it difficult to explain that I was booking and planning travel for people but wasn’t exactly a travel agent. I considered myself a travel planner. So, what’s the difference?
One of the main differences is in how a travel agent and travel planner are paid. A travel agent is generally paid with commissions. On the other hand, a travel planner will usually charge planning fees.
A successful travel agent will know which companies and websites they can book with for the highest commissions. Even though the customer may not need to pay an additional planning fee, the customer may not be presented with the best option for their vacation if the travel agent is just trying to book something with high commission.
Travel planners, however, are not motivated by commission so their focus is on providing a perfect, custom travel itinerary for you. They’ll call to make a reservation at a local restaurant for you or detail out the directions and map to the start of a hike. These are the kind of services that your typical travel agent would not do for you since they wouldn’t make commission on them.
The travel agent industry actually stemmed from a time when the internet was not widespread, and people could not easily book their own travel. The travel agents knew the contact numbers for airlines and hotels and make all the calls for the customer. Back then, it was much more difficult for a customer to do that on their own. Now, the internet is right at everyone’s fingertips. So, when would a travel agent be a good option?
A travel agent may be a good option if you just want flights or hotels booked, and you want to work out the activities on your own. They may also be good if are just booking a cruise or an all-inclusive resort where a lot of additional bookings and plans are not necessary.
A travel planner could also book all of those things, but they would be the best choice for a trip that is more unique and customized if you’re seeking an experiential trip. Like many travel planners, I love researching a destination, which makes travel planners a good choice if you want to go to a less commonly visited destination. Because travel planners make their own custom travel itineraries, they would be a good option for someone who does not like the prescribed group tours. In my itineraries, I include unique activities that not every tourist will know about and I always add a personal touch. Travel planners also can look into specific preferences for your group, like suggesting restaurants that will be accommodating for any dietary restrictions.
At Retreats by Rachel, we are a unique combination of both a travel agent and travel planner. While the main focus is on being a personal travel planner to create customized travel itineraries, we also work under a travel host agency. This gives us access to a large network of resources, travel updates, and deal and discounts to directly benefit you!
Now that you know about your options for booking your next trip, all you need are some ideas on where to travel next (although at Retreats by Rachel, I can provide some suggestions as well!). This book is a great place to start. "The Bucket List" has
awesome pictures and has definitely inspired some of my travel. Check it out!