When you entrust your travel arrangements to an ATAS accredited travel agent,
what do you get for your money?
There’s the great value and the yet-to-happen travel experience, of course. The airfares, the hotel accommodation, perhaps even a cruise or an exciting rail journey, the day tours, transfers and travel insurance. You’ll leave with high expectations of a wonderful family holiday, a romantic getaway, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure or the perfect business trip. And down the track, you’ll return home with a head brimming with great travel memories.
Now, your accredited ATAS travel agent doesn’t actually own the plane or the hotel you’ve booked, nor the cruise line or the luxury train carriage that will carry you slowly through swoon-worthy countryside. And you could, technically, book those things yourself. So, it does beg the question:
Why, as recent research commissioned by AFTA reveals, do 82% of consumers still look for an ATAS travel agent when booking travel?
Regular customers will understand that their travel agent sits right at the pointy-end of a pyramid of relationships that connect every layer of the travel ‘ecosystem’. They know that the brochures on the shelves have been produced by travel operators and wholesalers of the highest calibre. They’ll also appreciate that those brochures aren’t just ‘inspiration’, the products inside them represent quality, reliability and—importantly—the financial stability of those providing them.
Relationships between travel agents and their expert ‘wholesaler’ partners can go back decades. Qantas Holidays, for example, has been supplying holiday ‘product’ to Australian travel agencies since 1989.
Likewise, Infinity Holidays which is Flight Centre Travel Group’s flagship wholesale brand—has supplied accommodation, tours, cruises, rail and car hire to the Flight Centre network since 1995. They have both, in turn, been working closely with hoteliers, tour operators, cruise lines and ground handlers for all of that time, too.
Wholesalers play an essential role in the supply chain for consumers and travel agents alike, says Allisa O’Connell, General Manager of ATAS-accredited Infinity Holidays.
“No travel agent has been everywhere. I know a few who nearly have. But, by definition, no-one can specialise in every destination. Wholesalers, be they generalist or niche, do specialise. That means that ATAS travel agents can focus on their own expertise, on delivering great service, adding value and establishing long-term client relationships built on trust knowing that, behind the scenes, their clients’ arrangements are in safe hands. It’s what their clients are paying for at the end of the day”, says Allisa.
Neil Rodgers, Managing Director of ATAS-accredited wholesaler Adventure World Travel (located in Sydney, NSW) agrees.
“We have teams of experts who work for years with the same tourism operators, getting to know them, their offerings and their destinations intimately. We spend time in-destination with them every year, and are trusted business partners. We know each other really well. We could work with anyone, but we choose not to. The strength of our relationships with travel agents and tourism operators puts us in a unique position to advocate for our travel agent partners and their clients if something’s not right. We’re only a phone call away”, he says.
“When a client books with an ATAS travel agent, they’re tapping into a robust network of support and expertise that goes way beyond the shopfront”, adds Neil.
Back in the travel agency shopfront, travel consultants work hard bringing together myriad pieces of their client’s holidays, adding flights to hotels, transfers, tours, cruises, visas and travel insurance, saving them precious time and money. They’ll typically also advise their clients to visit the Smartraveller website to register their international travel and sign up for travel alerts.
By working with an ATAS travel agent, you’ll book and travel with the peace-of-mind that comes with having professionals in your corner.
Jan Lyons, Travel & Cruise Specialist at ATAS travel agency Platinum Travel Corporation (offices in VIC, WA and NZ) adds, “We really value our wholesale partners, each of whom specialise in particular countries, cities and styles of travel. They invest in relationships with local tour operators and suppliers in the same way we invest in relationships with our clients.
“Importantly, our wholesale partners also know what not to sell. An online search will offer up an almost endless – completely overwhelming – list of accommodation, tours and travel experiences. Working closely with a wholesale travel partner, however, means we present our clients with a highly curated, tried-and-tested set of local experiences and options that we know will be delivered personally and professionally – without surprises. We only like good surprises like room upgrades and VIP guest perks! Our wholesale partners can help with those, too”, says Jan.
The Smartraveller website: Register your trip and sign up for travel alerts
Looking for more insights from ATAS-accredited travel agents? See why river cruising in Asia is so hot right now, get to know some of the word’s quirkiest city tours, or explore Peru – it’s much more than just Machu Picchu.
Your ATAS travel agent can help ensure you are all set prior to departure but here’s a few travel warnings and useful tips to keep in mind.
Tip! Before you depart for your trip, ATAS travel agents recommend that Australia passport holders register for travel alerts for your intended destination.