Advantage highlights advice and reassurance of agency bookings following Which? report

The Advantage Travel Partnership has highlighted the value of booking with travel agents following a Which? report that urged travellers to book direct with airlines and hotels.

The consumer watchdog advised independent travellers to avoid online agencies and tipped going direct “to get a good holiday deal”.

It said its research found some comparison sites and booking sites offer “poor customer service and rarely if ever find the cheapest prices”.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said the report “fails to recognise the added value that travel agents offer beyond basic price”.

“Travel agents have an incredible amount of knowledge and experience and are best placed to help research the ideal destination for every budget, whilst ensuring you get the best value for your money,” she added.

“Agents also have the most up-to-date advice, pricing and information for travel and, when it comes to comparing flights and accommodation, they will always take into account the small print and the often hidden extra fees on behalf of the traveller.”

More: Which? urges travellers to book direct instead of with OTAs

She also highlighted travel disruption such as strikes, weather disruption or other difficulties, adding: “Consumers can easily contact their travel agent to help reschedule flights and accommodation.

“In these situations, travellers will have an expert on hand whose job it is to fight their corner and get them the best outcome.”

Another consideration is financial protection, she continued, saying: “[Agents] also ensure that travellers have the peace of mind of knowing that their holiday bookings are financially protected avoiding any scams.

“How you book travel and with who determines what financial protection and consumer rights are in place for travellers, and many people remain unclear about how they are covered in the event that something goes wrong.

“Relying on credit card protection is inadequate and does not protect the holiday in the same way, particularly should an issue arise while in destination.

“There really is no substitute for agents who act as advisors, who know their clients and can provide expert consultation, good value, support, advice and peace of mind.”

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