Travel agents consider fees as people ask them for advice but book online

TRAVEL agents may introduce charges to deter people from tapping into their expertise and then booking holidays through the internet.

Pat Dawson, the newly elected president of the Irish Travel Agents’ Association (ITAA), said their counterparts in the US introduced charges some years ago in an effort to prevent what is essentially intellectual theft.

American travel agents provide a free 15-minute consultation and then charge after that. If a person then books a holiday through the travel agent that money is refunded.

Mr Dawson, who represents around 150 travel agents, said many different businesses were suffering from customers using their expertise with the sole intention of trying to source cheaper products through the internet.

“Charges may have to be introduced here. We want to deal with genuine people.

“We don’t want people who will use travel agents as a source of knowledge and then go googling themselves,” Mr Dawson said.

He warned there is a danger in booking holidays through internet sites as they “might have a bias” and portray a hotel or location in a much more favourable light than in reality.

“Our job as agents is to give the best value possible and put together a package which is very unbiased. Travel agents spend thousands of euro training their staff. They send many of them throughout the world to visit the product to ensure it is up to standard,” Mr Dawson said.


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