5 Reasons More Millennials and Gen Zers Prefer Using Travel Agents

published Jun 22, 2023
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A young man and a woman came to the travel agency. They want to go on a trip during their holidays. The agent gives them tickets.
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Whether you’re embarking on a road trip or taking to the skies, we have ideas for making your vacation as stress-free as possible. This content is presented in partnership with Hampton by Hilton; it was created independently by our editorial team.

Scroll through social media and you’ll be inundated with photos of beautiful landscapes, cities full of activity, and people you know enjoying once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If you’re viewing it all while sitting at home, all those stunning images will do two things: Give you serious FOMO and kick your travel planning into gear.

You won’t always have the option to copy-and-paste someone else’s vacation as your own, and choosing where to go can often be difficult — especially when finances and vacation time are precious. If you’re a millennial or Gen Zer, you may be surprised by the retro hack some fellow travelers use to book seamless trips: .

Although contacting a travel agent may seem terribly old-school, soliciting an expert to help plan a big vacay is getting popular. “From what I’ve heard from my clients, they are so overwhelmed with daily life and especially the stressors of the pandemic years that they just can’t handle the time it takes to plan and book a proper vacation,” says travel planner Alyssa Johnson, who is in her late 30s. Johnson believes her influx of millennial clients is due to the fact that the age group realizes they need to get away. However, their already full lives don’t allow them the time to plan properly, which is where a travel agent can step in.

Not only are more and more travelers spending several thousand dollars annually on travel, but millennials, in particular, are taking than their baby boomer and Gen X predecessors. And who they trust with how they spend their time and money matters.

“Travel agents were such a thing for people in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s because the internet wasn’t a thing,” says Andy Knowles, the 30-year-old known as Travel Agent Andy, whose recent TikTok on the hidden perks of working with a travel agent went viral. Nowadays, wading through all of the information available online can leave travelers completely overwhelmed, and designing trips without help can quickly become time-consuming.

“Millennials are catching onto the fact that travel agents can actually help save you time while creating a custom travel experience,” says Knowles. Plus, personalized trips curated with a human touch are even more meaningful in a world filled with automation and algorithms. Using a travel agent can help you book the perfect trip for you, rather than trying to cobble together an Instagram-ready trip through all the viral videos about “under-the-radar” spots and edited photos you see on your feeds. So, no matter your generation, here are five reasons you might want to use a travel agent.

Travel agent fees are minimal.

How a travel agent gets paid isn’t always clear or consistent, which deters some travelers. Depending on who you contact, you may or may not need to pay a fee to use a travel agent. There is no standard across the board, so it’s best to chat with your planner about their rates (if there are any).

“Most of us do charge a planning fee which we reveal at the first consultation, just because putting together a personalized itinerary takes time and expertise,” says Gabriella Horvath, who owns Now or Never Travel.

However, some agents, like Knowles, don’t charge for their services. Instead, Knowles says agents make their money through hotels. “The hotels pay travel agents a commission on those bookings, similar to what the hotel would be paying Expedia or Hotels.com when you book through those sites.” The key is to have an upfront conversation with your travel agent about whether there will be a fee for their services before anything is planned. Even if a particular agent does charge, that cost may balance out with potential savings they can score through insider discounts they have access to.

Travel agents can book trips within most budgets.

Because of their expertise, agents can work with all kinds of vacations, from tightly funded volunteer missions to luxury trips that spare no expense. “Travel agents have in-depth knowledge of various destinations, airlines, hotels, and tour operators,” says Jane Jones of See Sight Tours. “They can provide personalized recommendations based on your preferences and budget.”

Danielle Willams, owner of Monarch Travel Atelier, echoes the sentiment of agents’ knack for customizing trips based on travelers’ priorities. “[Millennials tend to] want value out of their time away and to have memorable and unique experiences at their destinations, not just party all their time away,” she says. Whether a local walking tour or underground bar is more up your alley, travel agents can help you nail the vibe you’re after. 

Another perk agents often provide is access to discounts, package deals, and special promotions offered by hotels and resorts that might not be available to the general public. Travel agents tend to have inboxes flooded with these types of specials, which keeps them informed about which companies are running sales — in turn helping their clients save more.

Credit: BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

Travel agents can help plan detailed itineraries. 

Sanjay Doraiswamy and his wife, both millennials in their mid-30s, chose to book their recent 10-day Tanzanian safari with a travel agent, and the reason was twofold. “We tend to place great value in unique experiences, and the expertise a travel agent provides — especially in off-the-beaten-path locations — ensures we will get the high-quality (and sometimes life-changing) experiences we seek,” says Doraiswamy. 

When booking such a long-distance trip, confidence in the itinerary is paramount. Doraiswamy says, “We were traveling around an unfamiliar country, so we wanted an outstanding safari guide and the assurance that if anything went wrong, one central entity would resolve our problems.”

Although there was a greater financial commitment in booking this type of trip, Doraiswamy and his wife felt that paying a premium for a once-in-a-lifetime trip — and having a seasoned pro book the safari, accommodations, domestic airfare, and transfers — was worth the peace of mind. Plus, enlisting an expert’s help saved them from spending precious time researching and planning.

Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Travel agents can walk clients through complicated processes.

From wading through all the flight options, to looking at pictures of potential lodging and reading reviews, booking travel plans alone online can be intimidating. The upside of having access to so much information, however, is that travelers are armed with a healthy dose of skepticism. People who grew up with the internet know “just how easy it is for pictures to misrepresent a destination and for reviews to be fake, so they value the input of professional expertise and personalized recommendations,” says Williams. Working with someone who has information beyond what’s on the web is comforting. 

You might not be prepared for what’s waiting at the other end of your journey, but your travel agent is. Going through customs, getting visas, and arranging transport can be intimidating once you land at your final destination, but a trusted travel pro is ready to brief you beforehand and help you along the way.

“Anything like navigating immigration, cancellation policies, ground transportation, travel insurance, etc. can be the responsibility of a travel agent, so you essentially don’t need to worry about a thing,” Knowles says. Your agent is also a great point of contact if something goes awry, such as hotel cancellations or delayed flights — although many agents can field issues while you’re traveling, ask your particular agent about the level of service they provide.

Credit: courtneyk/Getty Images

Travel agents may offer extra perks.

Having a relationship with the folks you’re doing business with has its advantages, and travel agents work hard to maintain a great rapport with hotels, resorts, and other companies. “We have partnerships with thousands of hotels that can get clients guaranteed perks — complimentary daily breakfasts, resort credits, room upgrades, free airport transfers, etc. — all while paying the same price,” says Knowles. So even though you might not be booking directly, you’ll still be booking through a human being rather than a booking service, and those relationships can yield some chic perks. 

Jones adds that one of the main benefits is the level of service an agent can provide. Not only can their industry connections and expertise enhance your travel experience, but a qualified travel agent will also provide peace of mind so you can truly relax and get away from it all.