More people opt for travel agents when booking vacations than pre-pandemic

(WXYZ) — If a staycation is not your idea of a summer vacation, but rising prices are squeezing your budget, your best option might be to go through a travel agent.

With airfare and hotels going up in prices, more and more people are using travel agents as a way to save a few bucks.

Denise Butts became a travel agent several years ago. She’s getting more and more calls from people she doesn’t know.

Jill Jones, a travel concierge from Cadillac Travel in Southfield, is also fielding more calls.

“You know, for years, people just thought travel agencies were like dinosaurs, like, ‘Oh, is there a travel agent?’ And yeah, I think we’re back,” Jones said laughing.

Both women say more people are realizing what travel agents can offer – like promotion codes, vendor discounts, extra perks and more.

“A travel agency has a reservation system that says that all-in-one screen, every airline, every bucket of inventory. So, you might be asking for noon on Thursday, but an agent can tell you what, 5:00 on Thursday is less expensive. Are you flexible?” Jones said.

We can find those deals that they wouldn’t be able to find on their own because of the vendors that our agency works with,” Butts added.

Last year, the New York Times reported a flash poll conducted by the American Society of Travel Advisors found 76% of travel advisers were seeing an increase in customers in 2021 compared to before the pandemic. 80% were hearing from travelers who have never worked with a travel adviser before.

“What are the best destinations for people who are trying to have a vacation on a budget?” I asked

“Mexico is a good place for good deals right now. The Dominican Republic, of course, and Bali is running some really good specials right now,” Butts said.

“Mexico has always been huge. And the reason is huge is that they’re extremely competitive in pricing,” Jones added.

Their suggestions if you want to save on airfare or hotels? Be flexible in your arrival and departure dates, look at all-inclusive vacations and consider cruises.

Butts said if your budget is tight, the site allows you to book a flight with one upfront payment and a service fee, with the rest paid in installments like layaway for those who want an affordable getaway.

Both ladies say if you’re really wanting to find the best deals on airfare, you need to plan in advance. Try at least six to 12 months in advance, and airlines open their inventory 331 days ahead, so start looking well in advance.

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