I get asked this question all the time “How do I pay for your services?” This got me thinking, there must be a lot of people that really don’t understand how a travel agent works and, more importantly, gets paid.
My usual response to that question is “You won’t pay anything, my fees are paid by X (being the travel supplier)”. What I started to question is if people really understood what that meant.
As an independent travel agency, we are not owned by any travel supplier or work for them. We are not on their payroll. Instead, we make a commission off of our sales of their products. It doesn’t cost you any more to use a travel agent, the travel suppliers charge you the same whether you use a travel agent or just go to them directly.
What this doesn’t mean is that every time we talk to a potential client, we are making money from the travel supplier. In order to make a commission, we need to book the travel for you and take you through the travel. If you cancel beforehand, in most cases, we do not make anything from the travel supplier. We have all also had potential “clients” that ask for information, quotes and advice and then go and book on their own. Basically they feel the travel agent should work for free. While it is totally understandable when you have to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, deliberately using an agent to get all the information you need and booking on your own is not fair.
The majority of the people who come to us for a quote do end up booking and traveling so we don’t feel the need in most cases to charge service fees. The exception to this is travel where the suppliers do not pay a commission (airfare, some tickets, some hotel stays). In those cases we would charge a service fee (and advise you in advance of this).