Travel Agents in Zambia — the benefits of using travel agency services

Sara Drawwater
9 June 2015
Today, there is an overwhelming array of travel information. The internet, cable television, newspapers, magazines and guidebooks are just some of the sources that provide a myriad of choices for…

Today, there is an overwhelming array of travel information. The internet, cable television, newspapers, magazines and guidebooks are just some of the sources that provide a myriad of choices for travelers. This information is powerful and valuable — it informs us about our options, opens up our world and empowers us by turning us into informed customers. But sorting your way through this travel information and planning a trip can be confusing and time consuming. This is precisely why the services of a professional travel agents in Zambia are more valuable than ever.

Travel agents in Zambia join forces with many other unbiased international professionals who can do amazing things — like sort through nearly 100,000 daily changes in airfares alone! Travel agents have the experience, constant industry interaction and computer systems that make them the only source savvy enough to engineer the trip that is perfect for you. They will consider your intentions, timings and budget from continually changing travel offerings. They can save you time, money and frustration.

Do we all need travel agents in Zambia?

To be frank, no! The benefits of travel agents increase as your travel becomes more luxurious, expensive and specialised. If you have the time to search for and sort through the results there are some types of travel that suit Do It Yourself travel purchases. If you need a cheap flight to Florida to visit family and a night at a 3-star airport hotel en route, then let your fingers do the walking. If you want a bargain-priced, all-inclusive package to London then you can easily find that online. If you want a cheap cruise on a mass market ship then you can book that yourself. However, there are two benefits of using a travel agent even for this kind of travel — that is to save you time and give you access to specials and bulk buying discounts.

Where your travel needs become more complex, travel agents in Zambia become even more useful. If you are staying at 4 and 5-star accommodation, flying premium or through private aviation, taking a trip that VIP access would make better or planning complicated itineraries with multiple stops then a travel agent is for you. If you are taking trips that require the use of guides, drivers or local experts or visiting an unfamiliar destination then a travel agent is right for you. In these kind of travel scenarios, if you don’t use a travel agent you are likely to make costly mistakes, no matter how much you think you know.

In particular, use a travel agents in Zambia if…

  • You’re traveling with a group — It will always be easier to use a travel agent for group bookings that involve coordinating travel for multiple people.
  • You’re not sure where you want to go in Zambia — Researching particular countries, regions and destinations like online reviews of a specific national parks can take lots of time and effort. If your destination is still a question mark, an experienced travel agent can help steer you toward what you’re looking for. No one knows the full range of Zambia’s fabulous but sometimes remote destinations better than travel agents in Zambia and their professional partners.
  • You’re traveling internationally — If you’re planning to travel out of the country, particularly if it’s a knew destination for you, its probably worth going through a travel agent. Using travel agents in Zambia to book international travel allows you to ask a million questions and gives you security about information like safety, VISAs and ticketing.

In the age of doing everything online, can working with a travel agents in Zambia really add value?

The internet has turned would-be vacationers and business travelers into their own travel agents. Sites such as Kayak, Expedia, and a host of others allow travelers to book with ease. This has its advantages. But, if you don’t want to spend time planning and sorting through a gazillion options, travel agents are a valid and valuable option.

You may think it will cost you more. But with access to special offers and deals not publicly available and with strong buying power, it may be time for you to think again. The travel industry has also been evolving. Not all travel agents charge for their services — you may well be able to tap into a free service because travel agents of today often get their fees through hotels, wholesalers and suppliers they represent. Finally, online bookings will show you the current prices, but prices may change daily or even more.

Travel agents also offer insight that a website or brochure won’t be able to. A travel agent can offer valuable guidance. While the internet may be bursting with websites and booking technologically makes it simple to book direct travel agents will have more knowledge, particularly in areas like Zambia where tourism is less developed.

Questions to ask travel agents in Zambia

For leisure travel, most of the questions are:

  • Where is the best place to go for …
  • What is the best time to travel
  • What is the best place to stay
  • What are the best things to do
  • What are the best places to eat
  • How will I transfer from the airport to my accommodation?
  • Should I go prepared with local currency? When and where should I exchange currency?
  • Who do I contact if I need emergency services?
  • Do I need travel insurance?

Travel agents get asked all kinds of questions. In almost every case, the answer is, “There is no “best” place — but there is the best for you”. So, as well as listening to your questions, good travel agents will ask you questions. These questions will help them figure out what you want out of your travel experience. From this they will steer you to options you may not even have been aware of. Travel agents can help you find what is best for you because they have first-hand experience and are likely to have visited the hotels, restaurants and travel activities they are recommending. They have strong partnerships with suppliers which gives you an added layer of security. Because of their industry experience they know the best ones for every need. All of these skills come together into a travel experience you simply could not plan on your own, even with the benefits of the almighty internet!

The benefits of using travel agents in Zambia

  • It’s convenient and saves time — Planning a trip really can be time consuming. Travel agents, make a career out of easing your planning pain.
  • It saves money — Strong working relationships with suppliers and the latest in computer reservations technology enable travel agents to access the most up-to-date travel information on how to get you the best value for money. Some say you can save anywhere from $500 to $1,000 on an airfare if you have the right agent. Contrary to popular belief, a travel agent won’t always cost more. In fact, it’s possible you will pay less than booking a holiday yourself because agents have access to those all important promotional offers and exclusive deals (that are not necessarily public information). You can typically expect a travel agent to cost around the same as if you’d booked it yourself. When you factor in the time it saves you, travel agents are probably well worth their ‘cost’.
  • Become and instant VIP — Working with a travel agent gives you access to free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibitions, private guides, and cheaper — often much cheaper — premium airfares.
  • You will have a travel advocate — Your best interests are the priority of a good travel agent. In Zambia the Travel Agents Association of Zambia, TAAZ requires its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics.
  • Quality of service — TAAZ travel agents are knowledgeable and active in the industry. The association provides education, training and resource materials to its members. Its aim is to equip them with the tools to offer the highest quality of service.
  • Travel agents will go the extra mile — Agents work for you and will do everything they can to meet your travel needs.
  • It takes away the stress — A travel agent can take away the stress of vetting the countless options out there. Imagine not having to worry about arranging travel, hotels, meals and excursions. And if by chance something goes wrong, your travel agent is there to help you.

Travel Agents Association of Zambia chairperson Mrs Hamida Malik of Mukwa Travel & Tours (right) and colleague

What travel agents in Zambia can offer

As standard, Zambian travel agents tend to offer the following services:

  • Airline tickets
  • Safari tours and packages
  • Hotel, lodge, guesthouse, safari lodges and camps accommodation
  • Car rentals
  • Destination management and incentive travel
  • Luxury cruises

However, as the travel industry has grown more and more competitive, travel agents have increased the quality and type of services they offer. As well as providing those standard services, travel agents in Zambia are also likely to help with travel insurance, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements. Many offer meeting planning and incentive travel services. Below is a list of the added value that travel agents in Zambia can bring:

  1. Distilling product information — Through an on-going and time-consuming process of familiarisation, continuing education and customer feedback, the agent is your travel expert.
  2. Investigating and supplying competitive information — A supplier offering a range of options (like a website) is not going to advise a consumer that there is a better route or a better fare from a competing supplier. A travel agent will.
  3. Staying abreast of the most current and timely promotions — Via up to the minutes updates, agent-only e-mail transmissions, and their professional relationships travel agents are able to obtain the most current promotional information.
  4. Analysing current promotions — The cheapest does not always suit your needs best and a travel agent will help you consider all angles.
  5. Clarifying the small print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions — There insider knowledge will help you understand the important points.
  6. Making recommendations for travel-related options — Travel agents share inside information on a host of travel options, tailored to suit your specific needs.
  7. Simplifying the research and subsequent transaction — Like a personal shopper, travel agents can provide one-stop shopping for travelers with suggestions that are in your best interest, not the suppliers.
  8. Enhancing travel with value-added benefits and amenities — Travel agents add to the client’s experience by arranging a welcoming drink on arrival, providing a special landing package, a specific escort or other customer amenities that add those nice little extras.
  9. Using their clout to obtain the best possible travel options — The travel agent has significant buying power and can pass on the benefits.
  10. Getting problems resolved — The agent serves as the consumer’s advocate in the event that something does go wrong.

How to find good travel agents in Zambia

Choose a travel agent the way you would choose a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you may want to visit or call several travel agents in Zambia and find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. The best travel agents want to establish a long-term relationship with you, not just make one sale. They will match up a traveler with the vacation or business trip that suits their needs. The professional travel agent learns their client’s interests, likes and dislikes.

Ask about your travel agent’s professional background. Many have been trained in business management, travel and tourism or geography. Many travel agents will have supplemented their agency experience with extensive education and training courses such as certification with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. Finally, quality travel agents in Zambia should belong to the Travel Agents Association of Zambia. This will ensure your chosen agent has the professional skills and strong local and international links to other travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads, cruise lines, tour operators and rental companies worldwide. There are also other professional bodies to look out for, like ATTA, the African Travel & Tourism Association; AITA, the International Air Travel Association; and UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents Associations.

In summary

The bottom line is travel agents know more than you do about a vast and fast changing industry. They are better connected than you, have access to benefits you can’t otherwise get and can often beat available prices. Travel agents provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking it yourself or through insurance. Really good travel agents add value through their expertise. They are essentially consultants. Among the many major advantages high-powered travel agents bring to the table is personal connection and clout. In fact think of your expert travel agent as a friend who happens to have the travel expertise you need right now.

For comprehensive information on travel agents in Zambia, see the Best of Zambia’s travel essentials page.