I like to be in charge of my life and my decisions and no more so than when it comes to booking online for family holidays, a business trip or some ‘me’ time. By Konrad Laker.
But then I found myself stuck at an airport in a foreign country – I had travelled here on business and had the family join me for an extended holiday – when our flight home was grounded due to bad weather and there I stood like a deer in headlights, unsure of what to do, who to call or how to get out of there.
Chaos surrounded us as other weary travellers scurried about trying to make alternative plans, shouting at their cellphones (and their kids), standing in ever-growing queues to try and get on another flight, being jostled and shoved. I could not get a hold of an online agent or help desk as the lines were busy – 20 minutes of listening to an automated voice message did not help either, I had no-one to call to help me with at least a hotel for the night, or alternative travel arrangements and it dawned on me that had I given up my ‘independence’ and booked through an agent, I would not have been literally stranded, with my kids tugging on my jacket and my wife giving me ‘I told you so’ look.
Regardless of the reasons for taking a trip, be it a holiday to rejuvenate after a long, hard year, a business trip or conference, or just a long journey to anywhere to connect with yourself or with your loved ones – travel these days is not for sissies!
Terror attacks, natural disasters, airport closures and theft are concerns for each and every person embarking on a trip and regardless of how much planning and thought has been put in, from travel insurance (a must) to backup plans, photocopies and contact people, if you have booked the trip yourself online and possibly forgotten a few must-haves on your to-do list, need information fast, or you get stuck in a City with literally no way out, who can you call?
It’s well worth it to spend a nominal service fee and book via a travel agent for peace of mind when travelling for business or leisure knowing you have someone to call who will take care of EVERYTHING in a crisis, or even just to say thank you, make a change to your itinerary or extend your stay.
Not only can your travel agent negotiate competitive prices on airfares, they can also in some instances secure corporate rates for hotels and car hire. They can also manage your corporate travel budget and save you additional time and money by arranging car hire, the best insurance, collecting visas, booking transfers and being that 24/7 go-to person in a sticky situation.
‘Til next time!
About the author: Konrad Laker is the CEO of Gold Travel – a corporate travel management company and industry stalwart with branches in Cape Town and Johannesburg.