This page uses JavaScript. Your browser either does not support JavaScript or you have it turned off. To see this page properly please use a JavaScript enabled browser.
ABD Federal Credit Union ABD Access Online Banking Go to main content

This Is How Travel Agents Work

Yes, travel agents still exist, even in this age of websites and apps that promote DIY travel—Kayak and Expedia, Hopper and Google Flights, and others. In fact, travel agents are seeing an up-tick in demand for their services despite the control and convenience of the internet and its lure of getting bargain basement deals.

Maybe you’re someone who’s considering using an agent for your next getaway. If what’s holding you back is not understanding how they work, what they can do for you, or if it will cost you more money than doing it yourself, then read on.

What an agent can do for you

How an agent gets paid

Inquiries are usually free, allowing prospective clients to ask about hotels, flights, possible destinations, cruise ship companies, rental cars, and more. Agents get paid, through a combination of fees paid directly by the client and commissions paid by the companies they work with, when reservations are booked.

Agents either charge a flat fee separate from trip expenses (although there may be a daily spend minimum for agents specializing in luxury vacations) ranging from $100 to $500 and up, or they may only charge a la carte fees for things like booking airline tickets (since airlines rarely pay commissions anymore), hard-to-get restaurant reservations, or rooms in smaller independent hotels. Sometimes, the flat fee is charged as a security deposit, which is either returned to the client at the end of the planning process or applied to the cost of the trip itself.

Commissions are paid to agents by hotels, airlines, tour operators, and cruise ships. These relationships also lead to insider deals and experiences you couldn’t find on your own. An honest agent won’t use their commission as an incentive to sell you a more expensive package, but instead will use their connections and experience to make a genuine recommendation.

An agent can save you money by passing along the savings they receive on these bookings. Travel industry businesses offer discounts to agents, who can then pass along the savings to you, even after factoring in any fees the agent may charge.

To make sure you work with an experienced and honest travel agent, make sure they’re a member of the American Society of Travel Agents, ask for references, ask them about their expertise, and ask about their service fees up front.

Go to main navigation

Co-op NetworkFind fee-free ATMs and Shared Branches.