Before Internet travel sites existed, Americans who needed help making travel arrangements had a choice: deal directly with service providers like airlines and hotels (difficult to do on the telephone), or use a travel agent to coordinate all the details. Every neighborhood had a travel bureau, an office at which knowledgeable staff would help clients make various kinds of travel arrangements.
The advent of popular Internet travel sites such as expedia.com, travelocity.com, orbitz.com, hotwire.com, hotels.com, and priceline.com, as well as the significant online presence of airlines, car rental companies, and hotel chains, has changed the market. Travel agents themselves now frequently operate as members of franchised chains, all of which do significant Internet marketing. Today we see fewer “brick and mortar” bureaus, but many still exist, providing specialized services for their clientele.
Travel agents can help customers wade through the many offers, flights, hotel deals and other services available on the market, often without charging an extra fee. Travel agents also create and market vacation packages. They purchase blocks of seats on airline flights and arrange for hotel rooms in bulk. Some specialize in luxury travel, others in budget travel. As with any service in the United States, it helps to develop a personal relationship with your local travel agent and become fully familiar with the services he or she offers. A good, highly professional travel agent can make traveling easier and more economical for you.
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