A Return to Travel Agents

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Are you planning your next vacation? Why you might want to leave it to the experts. (KFSN)

Travel agents are seeing many of their customer returning, frustrated by endless online options and scams.
"Good morning, Travel Shoppe this is Sandy how can I help you?" The phones at the Travel Shoppe in Northeast Fresno are ringing off the hook lately. After struggling for years, the travel agency industry is now experiencing growth. In 2014, 45% of those surveyed by Travel Weekly had used a travel agent to book a trip. Agent Sandy Walmsley says web-weary customers are back in a big way: "They're tired of just trying to talk to a computer. When they're spending hours on the web or on the phone with different airlines, they're losing productive time so they would come to me."

Fresno mom Nicole Linder dumped the do-it-yourself approach after spending two weeks researching a trip to Maui: "And I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and I found some really good deals. Which sounded exciting but then the thought of mailing a huge sum of money in a cashier's check to somebody miles and miles away that I had no idea would actually fulfill that promise, terrified me."

While online sites like Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline continue to be go-to resources for travelers, that's where those services end and where the experts are only beginning. Walmsley says don't underestimate a travel agent's ability to find deals you can't. "People don't realize on an airplane, there can be up to 30 different fares and you're all sitting together in the same coach area." Walmsley saved the Linders nearly $2,000 by suggesting they change their travel dates. Many agents also have extensive industry connections, which come in handy especially if you encounter any problems... preventing a dream vacation from turning into a nightmare. "If those emergencies have to happen that are not expected I'm here to help them and that's another personal voice I'm here to help them with," explains Walmsley.

Walmsley says now is a great time to book for summer, with special deals if you book by the end of January or February.

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