Covid-19 has hit New Zealand’s small businesses hard. Most of us have been out and about supporting our local hospitality businesses by getting our takeaway coffee from our local café or dining out at our favourite restaurants. No doubt many of you are considering supporting Kiwi tourism businesses by travelling domestically this year too, to help the local tourism industry get back on its feet. When you are planning your next New Zealand trip, consider where you go to book your domestic travel.
We Kiwis are pretty savvy travellers and most of us feel pretty confident booking domestic travel ourselves. There’s also the perception that travel agents are costly to use, and it seems easier to do things yourself and book online, which isn't necessarily the case. While you may consider using a travel agent to book your overseas holiday, chances are you've always planned things yourself when it comes to domestic trips. However, there are many benefits of booking your domestic holiday with a travel agent. Here are a few reasons.
1. Support a local business
With travel having come to an almost complete standstill in recent months, your local travel agents have been working tirelessly around the clock to rearrange bookings and sort cancellations & refunds, liaising with airlines and operators on behalf of customers. Locally owned travel agencies around the country, like our World Travellers stores, are missing the daily interactions with customers. By booking your domestic travel with them you'd be supporting their business as we wait for international travel to open up again.
If you’re set on planning your New Zealand holiday yourself, why not lend your support to a local business and enlist the help of a travel agent for at least a small part of your trip? Get them to organise your accommodation while you create the itinerary, or get them onto finding the best self-drive routes while you book in where to spend the night. Every little bit will help.
2. It won’t cost you any more
There’s no cost for you to arrange your travel through a travel agent – they're free of charge. You can drop in for a consultation to chat about your travel plans and they'll recommend options to suit your travel style, interests and budget, and you get to choose what to go with. And because they’re industry experts, they’ll be able to source deals that aren’t available to the public.
3. It’ll save you time and hassle
We know a lot of people have more time on their hands now due to Covid-19, and that might free up more time to spend on travel plans. You might really enjoy it, too – it's an exciting experience to plan a trip. Travel agents love customers who do their research and look into their options and bring their planning along when they come by as it makes it more of a joint process where everyone is involved in the discussions. Where a travel agent comes in is when it comes to tricky logistics, or the parts of planning that aren't so enjoyable. With a travel agent on your side, you can spend as much time as you like delving into the things you love to organise, and then leave the boring, time-consuming bits to them! Isn’t it nice to be able to sit back and put the planning in the hands of an expert while you kick back and enjoy yourself? You deserve it, especially right now, so let your travel agent do the hard work!
4. You'll discover places & experiences you never knew about
You can do all the online research in the world but there’s no substitute for talking to a real person who can share their own experiences and stories. How else are you going to find that secluded beach where sea lions come to play, that beautiful waterfall just off the main road that everyone seems to bypass, that amazing boutique hotel that’s going to add a special touch to your itinerary, or the best coffee in town? To get this kind of information, you need local experts you’ve been there and done it themselves, or have the connections and knowledge to find them for you. It’ll make the difference between a standard holiday experience and a truly exceptional one.
5. All those little extras
You might think that booking your New Zealand holiday online will get you the best bang for your buck, but you'll often miss out on little extra touches that can make your experience a bit more memorable. Things like included luxuries on romantic getaways, discounts on accommodation and car rental, and unique sightseeing activities can all be arranged by a travel agent who has access to local operators and businesses that make your holiday even more special. There can be a lot of added value in booking through a travel agent.
6. You’re forming a relationship
Many of our clients say they love coming back to their local World Travellers consultant because they enjoy the face-to-face experience of planning and sharing their travels with someone. When you book a holiday with a travel agent, they’re as invested as you are! They’ll sit with you while you run through your options and needs, they’ll follow along your journey and talk to you about it when you return home. They’ll get to know you and your family, the kind of travel you’re into and the little things that make a difference to your journey. They're not a faceless online booking system; they're a real person, and they'll understand your needs far better than a computer does.
7. They can help in a crisis
Using an online booking tool to book your flights and accommodation may seem like a quick and easy option, but as so many travellers unfortunately discovered while stranded overseas during the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s very difficult to get your money back easily or even get in touch with someone on the phone when things go pear-shaped.
If you find yourself in a pickle overseas, your travel agent is the one who will handle the phone calls to airlines and hotels, organise your rebooking or cancellation and get you home safely. It’s exactly what World Travellers consultants around the country did for so many customers (and even some travellers who weren't World Travellers customers) when borders started closing. Our consultants helped Kiwis parents get their teenage kids on working holidays home from the UK, helped backpackers make it back home to their families in Europe, and assisted travellers stuck in the US make it home before borders were closed. They were just a phone call or email away. If something happens on your domestic adventure, they’ll be right there to sort it out so you can breathe easy knowing you’ll make it home okay. If they can do it from the other side of the world, they can do it from the same country!
The perception is that travel agents cost money to use, that we’re best used for overseas or more complicated travel plans, and that you can do it all yourself. But give us a try – you won’t regret it, and when you book a domestic holiday with a World Travellers consultant, you’re helping out a locally owned business. We can’t thank you enough for your support.