28th Feb 2019
Do you book online or with a travel agent? Depends on who you ask.
Travel agents vs online booking

One of the greatest conundrums when booking a holiday is: do you book online or with a travel agent?

While booking a weekend trip to Brisbane with accommodation may not seem difficult, booking a three-week overseas holiday with connecting flights, accommodation and transfers can be quite challenging, and most likely out of the scope of many would-be online bookers.

The YourLifeChoices Insights Survey 2019 posed the question: Which of the following travel purchases will you make online in the next 12 months? Of the 5263 people who answered, 70 per cent said airfares, 64 per cent said accommodation, 49 per cent said travel insurance, 24 per cent said cruises, and 23 per cent said tours.

Such a response may lead you to think that online booking is favoured over booking through an agent, but according to the Roy Morgan Holiday Tracking Survey, of the respondents who booked an overseas holiday in the last 12 months to December 2017, 42.5 per cent of Australians turn to travel agents, with only 15.5 per cent using travel booking websites.


“Travel agents operate in a highly competitive industry, having to contend with a complex marketplace such as bricks and mortar shops, online, and surging technologies such as Airbnb,” said Roy Morgan Chief Executive Michele Levine.

“The popularity of online comparison websites when planning a holiday is continuing to trend upward, with websites like tripadvisor.com.au, Booking.com, and Qantas being visited the most in an average four-week period.

“The Travel Agent Monitor Market Indicator Report benefits travel agents, tour operators, and online-only travel booking websites by tracking their performance over time relative to their competitors in terms of brand awareness, advertising awareness, usage, consideration and loyalty. The report also shows how the internet has changed the way Australians are booking their holiday and leisure travel, and details which travel websites Australians have visited in the last 4 weeks.”

Do you book online or use a travel agent? Why?



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    23rd Apr 2018
    I use a Travel agent because it is easy if you are lazy like me, it is referable if something goes wrong (how often does that happen!!), and convenient if you change your mind - just tell them and all is done.

    Also they will usually make sure you get the best deals and often have some in house arrangements that result in savings.

    Why have a dog, and bark yourself? Unless you actually enjoy the stress and angst of spending hours doing it all yourself. After that, you need a holiday to get over planning and booking the holiday.
    24th Apr 2018
    Yes. I use a private travel agent who can get cheaper prices for fares and accomodation than I can. Even discounts on car hires and tickets to events.

    The couple of times something has gone wrong she has been brilliant and sorted everything out which is invaluable.

    Travel insurance through her is also very competitive.
    28th Feb 2019
    Rae - then you are lucky. Twice I have gone to agents, and both times the prices they quoted me were just outrageous! I wanted prices to either go and visit family overseas, or to bring them here. Wanted some accommodation, attractions, car hire, gps, car seats, etc.
    I had done my research, but wanted to see if they could find better. Ouch! Their prices were more than 20% dearer. Went with my own findings - never had a problem.
    23rd Apr 2018
    I book most of my accommodation online because travel agents are not ideal for booking apartments and I will book domestic fares online directly with the airline but when I am on the other side of the world or arrive at a strange O/S airport I like to know that my airline booking was not a scam so book with an agent. Good agents give great service and if you want to change arrangements are far easier to deal with than an online computer. Also with many overseas online airline sites you never know what costs you are up for until you fly. Try Ryanair for example.
    We have however, organised cruises in Europe and the Pacific online with travel agents in the US but where we were also able to communicate by email and phone, at around half the prices quoted by agents in Australia. I all depends on your comfort level in knowing that your booking is real when far from home.
    Old Man
    23rd Apr 2018
    We use a Travel Agent most of the time because there is more to booking an airfare or accommodation than just the cost. Shuttle service to and from is arranged and we can be sure that the accommodation is what is advertised. In saying that, smaller trips within Australia and cruises are done online as the only thing that Travel Agents can add is onboard credit which can be negotiated at the time of online booking.
    28th Feb 2019
    Yes, we do exactly the same. It’s all about peace of mind.
    23rd Apr 2018
    I book interstate airfares online, but don't have the confidence with overseas trips. With those I hunt the internet for the best available deals, print it off and take it to Flight centre. They always match or better the deal. I still book my own travel insurance online though as I have found travel agents must get a kickback and are always too expensive.
    24th Apr 2018
    When going overseas we always use a travel agent for the reasons others have said. If anything goes wrong you have a fall back position and they have access to information that the public do not.

    Otherwise if I am just making an airline booking/accommodation here in Australia I do it online myself.
    24th Apr 2018
    Might be worth pointing out that just in case you want to alter flight times while overseas if you booked through an agent you have to contact your agent back in oz.
    If you have booked online you can make changes any time online .
    Old Geezer
    28th Feb 2019
    Do everything online. Too much stuffing about with travel agents for me.
    28th Feb 2019
    For once I agree with you...
    Old Geezer
    28th Feb 2019
    Do everything online. Too much stuffing about with travel agents for me.
    Lark Force
    28th Feb 2019
    NOW( After Dick Smiths rage), I only book accommodation directly with the B & B or Motel in Australia, its always cheaper than using Booking.com, Watif etc. and they are in front $$ $ wise as well.(And the OS booking company doesn't get our dollars!)
    Travel Agents are very good at knowing what's doable when travelling OS. tj makes a good point, but a mobile phone call back to the agent isn't hard.
    28th Feb 2019
    Yes I book directly when in Australia and there is often a discount because they have no booking fee to pay to the online provider.
    28th Feb 2019
    I don't use travel agents because the few times I have tried they were useless. On one occasion they didn't know the place I wanted go nor the airport in the capital city nor even a route to get there especially as it was not a direct route. By the time they finished with all their questions like when to go, which airline, where did I want to transfer, etc etc, I could have done it myself. They could not even find an alternative route themselves that I did not give them. On another occasion, I tried the 'we beat any price' promise. The hoops I had to jump through to prove there was a good price I'd found elsewhere wasn't worth the one dollar they beat the original cost by.
    The other thing is that if you book even a simple flight with an agent, you MUST go through that agent to make even a simple change such as seat allocation or special meal, and it's not worth the aggravation of doing it from home never mind if you are already overseas and having to contact the agent in Australia.
    The Sheriff
    28th Feb 2019
    The main problem lies with making alterations or cancellations to a booking. If one books online oneself the matter is relatively easily solved by directly paying a cash penalty. However it is more complicated if one goes through a travel agent as they all have onerous penalties besides the ones charged by the airline or accommodation. Before signing up with a travel agent contract read the penalty clauses and, unless you are absolutely sure of your dates, don't sign.

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