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.
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…
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.
For leisure travel, most of the questions are:
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!
Travel Agents Association of Zambia chairperson Mrs Hamida Malik of Mukwa Travel & Tours (right) and colleague
As standard, Zambian travel agents tend to offer the following services:
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:
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.
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.