Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Travel Agents

It has long baffled me how travel agents make money. I've tried to use one to plan travel, but after they email back my flight prices and accommodations they've found, I can always go online and find cheaper flights and more reasonable lodging. My friend was on an around-the-world trip and reached out to an agent for help. He asked the guy pointblank, "How do you make money?" The agent's answer was a muttered payment algorithm that involved sliding scales, discounts for his customers, and kickbacks from certain hospitality companies. Then the agent sent my friend an itinerary, and it was the exact same itinerary he'd found online without any help, only it was $200 more expensive. My friend asked why, and the guy said, "I have to get paid somehow." True, and I'm sure there are a lot of people who aren't very savvy about shopping for flights online and agents help them a lot, but are there enough to employ all these travel agents?

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