Go To An Expert Travel Agent Or Directly To The Operator?

Unless you are comfortable with handling your own arrangements directly with travel operators over their websites or your travel selection is just a simple selection from a brochure you should consider finding an expert travel agent for your travel destination or activity requirements. This is not as simple as it sounds as many travel agents are designated as ‘specialists’ which often does not mean too much, except that they specialize in selling certain destinations, activities or named tour operators.

To obtain a ‘specialist’ designation can also be a very simple test set by a tourism office or tour operator and does not necessarily require an actual visit or experience. Travelers should beware of specialists, simply find out if they are experts by asking “have your been there, have you done that, did you buy the t-shirt?” or some more exacting questions, as you are investing hard earned money in your trip or vacation.

In our lifetimes we hopefully spend more on our travel wants and needs than on any other professional or expert in their chosen fields such as lawyers, accountants, plumbers, electricians, builders, dentists, doctors and we certainly choose them very carefully, so why not use the same quality control when choosing a travel agent. Also, as with our other experts, there may be different agents needed for different destinations and activities, so do not necessary stay with one agent for all of your travel requirements unless of course the agency has different experts for different products and services.

There is an understandable element of extra costs when using these experts called commissions and fees but the extra cost is often worth the investment if you really need travel knowledge, experience and expertise. Many travel experts are dedicated professionals who have spent years gaining knowledge of their products and services, gaining experience by visiting destinations, taking part in activities and gaining expertise in the reservation and search systems for better itinerary planning.

They are out there, but not necessarily in your town, region or even country. With the Internet we have the ability to find experts for anything and to compare and check credentials and product quality before committing our investment.

If you, as a traveler, do not need to use an expert travel agent and are comfortable with handling your own arrangements over the internet you have unlimited choices but not unlimited time to do your searches. You also have probably questioned why, if you do your own bookings directly with the operator, that you have to pay the commissions that are normally built in to travel prices to allow for retailer or wholesaler percentages, and rightly so. Are you getting a fair fare price when you go directly to operators and if not why not?

Not as simple an answer as it seems. Travel Wholesalers and Retailers are needed to market, promote and represent travel products so that travelers have the opportunity to view the myriad travel choices around the world. Without them many of us would never know the choices available to us so, when you have found your expert you should be loyal to them for yourself and also recommend and refer their expertise to others.

Travel Operators often have a predicament that if they show a two-tier price on their websites, one for buying from travel agents and a lesser price for direct bookers, that this could cause a rift in the supply chain and should therefore be protected for the benefit of the industry and the consumer in order to ensure that certain travel selections are available.

To overcome this predicament needed a new and completely different approach to both protect the traditional supply chain and to ensure that direct booking travelers get fairer fare prices and protection from unnecessary costs. The new innovation is Top Travel Vouchers from Top Travel Sites, a system whereby the operator still incurs the payment of a commission but most of that commission is then rebated to the direct-booking traveler.

At present there are hundreds of these vouchers available for purchase from operators around the world and each purchaser is offered a 100% money back guarantee, with some restrictions, but there is also a refund if the traveler is unhappy upon completion of their travel.

This service is in the early days of building a voucher inventory but with the growth of travel by direct bookings it does offer travel operators who want to encourage direct bookings and also to protect their relationships with wholesalers and retailers a new opportunity and method of representation for their products.

For the many thousands of travel providers and operators around the world who are not large enough to get representation by wholesalers and retailers there is now an opportunity to use this service by building an attractive savings incentive into voucher offers to encourage travelers to handle their own arrangements directly with the operator.

You can see the selections now available for direct-bookers together with a selection of expert travel agents by destination and activity at top travel sites.

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Why Do You Pay Commissions When You Do Your Own Travel Bookings?

When you buy a travel package, tour or service your price may include a number of levels
of commission added to the original pure cost of the product direct from the supplier.

To give an example of such:

Let’s take a tour operated in Australia at a cost direct from the operator of say $1,000:

1. This tour may be listed with an Inbound Tour Operator.

2. The ITO buys for $1,000, marks up 10%, sells to Wholesaler, tour price now $1,100.

3. The Wholesaler buys for $1,100, marks up !0%, sells to Retailer, tour price now $1,210.

4. The Retailer buys for $1210, marks up 10%, sells to Traveller, tour price now $1,331,
(prices changes if percentages are higher, or less if the ITO is not in this equation)
(without the ITO the retail price would be $1,210 at 10% or $1322 at 15%).

The commission element, without the ITO at 10% mark-up is $210 per tour per person (21%).

The commission element, without the ITO at 15% mark-up is $322 per tour per person (32%).

So the Traveller pays variable levels of middleman commissions.. When you have 2 or 3 or a
family of travellers, this is a considerable amount of cash and if you have a tour costing in
excess of $1,000, just do the math.

Similarly, brochure prices have commissions built in to them for the retailers of 10 – 25%.

If a consumer goes to an Outlet Store they expect outlet prices, if they go directly to the
Manufacturer they expect ‘go-direct’ prices, so why not handle travel arrangements in a
similar way?

Because, it is only fair that each level of the product sales cycle earns revenue for the
business involved and these businesses are necessary and needed to ensure that some
products are marketed, promoted, brochured and sold to consumers around the world who
may not be comfortable with handling their own bookings and need the assistance of an
expert professional travel consultant.. However, with the growth of the internet and the ability
to now find the source of travel products, travellers who handle their own arrangements should
get a fairer deal on the pricing as a middleman is not needed in the purchasing process.

It does not make sense for most travel operators to show different prices on their websites,
Retail, Wholesale or Internet Direct etc as this could undermine their supply chain by deterring
the efficient middlemen from representing their products, so we have to find a way for all of the
‘do-it-yourself’ bookers to get a fairer price.

There is a way. A new service has been introduced that enables travel operators to encourage
and reward travellers who are comfortable with direct bookings and for them to get a fair price
break for the commission no longer required to be paid out. The new service, operated by
TopTravelSites.com, offers TopTravelVouchers for sale that have values equivalent to, or more
than the commission elements on the operator’s travel products. These may be purchased by
travellers at very deep discounts to their redemption values, getting closer to the direct cost
price of the travel product for the consumer… think outlet pricing or go-direct deals.

The Travel Operator still incurs the commission cost by issuing a toptravelvoucher but the
beneficiary of the price break is the traveller, not the middleman. By encouraging and
rewarding travellers, the operators should get more traffic to their websites.

TopTravelSites can be compared to a retail travel company but it does not sell travel. It only
introduces travellers to operators involved with the program and invites them to go directly to
the travel websites of its clients. If travellers want to do business directly with the travel
providers on the site they can get a price break by purchasing toptravelvouchers online at
prices of $30, $50 or $100usd (or equivalent foreign currency). The vouchers have a 100%
money-back guarantee and if, after the travel has been completed, the traveller is unhappy
with the product, the cost of the voucher is reimbursed and redress is sought from the operator.

Hundreds of vouchers are currently available and new vouchers are being added each month
but when you see a voucher valued at 1,500 euros for sale for $100usd it may not be long
before you will see thousands of choices. Many other vouchers are available and can be
purchased by single travellers, groups or families, leading to very healthy savings for all
‘do-it-yourself- bookers.

Many travel operators will continue to only sell through a supply chain but this is a program that
could be added to their marketing options in the future but there are thousands of travel businesses around the world that want to improve their representation and for their services to be seen by a wider audience of travellers. Most travel operators would always be willing to pay a commission on sales and so this site should appeal to them. It will attract travellers who are comfortable with booking their own arrangements as they are being rewarded by rebated commission and as long as the site operator keeps to low overheads (no bricks and mortar stores or expensive brochures) they will be able to continue rebating commissions to self-booking travellers.

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