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The Ultimate Checklist for Using an Online Travel Company to Plan Your Trip

Whether you’re planning a business trip or a vacation with your partner, make sure you communicate clearly with your travel companion. You can download many online travel checklists, packing lists, and templates.

Consider registering with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Also, prepare a medical kit recommended by the CDC.


If you book a trip with an agency, ask for their commission. Travel agents often work on a flat fee basis or have some other form of compensation, and that can add up if you’re planning a complicated or high-value trip.

Depending on your trip, you might be better off working with an online travel company that doesn’t charge fees. That way, you can make the most of your travel budget by being flexible with your dates and destinations.

On the other hand, if you’re planning a luxury or experiential vacation, you may be best off with a travel agent. They can use their relationships with hoteliers and airlines to get you insider deals on accommodations and flights that are only available to some.

In addition, travel agencies can help you save money on specific trip components like tours and activities; click here. They’ll know which companies offer discounts for seniors or families, and they can alert you to any sales that might apply to your itinerary.

Just keep in mind that online booking sites are becoming more sophisticated. There’s anecdotal evidence that some websites can track browsing habits and jack up prices when you return to the book. If you’re planning a trip alone, be wary of using a website that tracks your search history.


In the past, travelers wandered down to their local travel agent’s office with a vacation in mind. The agent would help them brainstorm destinations, then book hotel and transport reservations. Now, many travelers do their research online and then make bookings on their own through consumer travel sites or travel aggregators.

In addition to having a vast inventory of hotels and flights, reputable travel management platforms can also connect with tour operators, cruise lines, car rental companies, and other partners that offer unique experiences and value. This gives you access to a full range of options and keeps your costs down by avoiding the high commissions charged by traditional agents.

Finally, consider using rewards for your airfare or hotel stays. In that case, many travel management tools are accessible through shopping portals and airline websites, allowing you to earn credit card points or cash-back on your bookings that you might miss by using a non-travel agent service. Then there are the specialized advisors who can help you redeem your hard-earned miles or hotel points.

Look for an ASTA-verified travel agency specializing in your type of trip and destination. They’ll know the ins and outs of your destination. They can arrange perks such as private transportation pickup from transportation hubs, restaurant reservations that don’t require booking in advance, and skip-the-line passes to popular attractions.

Customer Service

Providing stellar customer service isn’t just an industry norm but an essential competitive differentiator. Travel and hospitality brands that prioritize it across all their channels and provide quick, personalized responses can earn a loyal customer base.

This is especially true for online travel agencies. They aren’t the same as traditional agents that act like “vending machines for airline tickets, hotel rooms, and rental cars.” Instead, these agencies offer a full range of products and services and stand behind them with top-notch customer support.

In addition, most online travel companies bundle various components of a trip together to make it easier for travelers to book. They are also more flexible regarding canceling or changing a booking than their offline counterparts. And they can often negotiate discounts and packages that would be difficult for DIY travelers to find online.

Some online travel agencies have a team that specializes in negotiating waivers and favors from airlines for their customers. They do this daily and often at no additional cost to the customer. This is something that DIY travelers need help to compete with. It is an important aspect that makes many people choose an online agency over a DIY option. It is a service that most customers are willing to pay for.

Time-Saving Features

Planning a trip is a fun way to spend time for some people. Others find it a stressor, especially if the destination is far away. If you’re in the latter category, consider using an online travel company to make your next vacation a breeze!

Online travel companies are a one-stop shop that offers everything from flights and hotels to short-term rentals, car rentals, and vacation packages. Whether looking for the perfect beach retreat or an adventure-packed city getaway, OTAs have you covered.

Depending on the website, they may offer a variety of add-ons or cross-sells to help visitors maximize their experience and save money. This can include anything from extra legroom on flight seats to travel insurance or even an extended stay at a hotel for a discounted rate. Just remember to use best practices when it comes to upselling and cross-selling, as well as run iterative A/B tests to optimize conversions.

Another great way to save time when traveling for business is by downloading useful apps. This can include travel-related ones like GPS, translation tools, and guided meditations to keep you calm during those bumpy flights. Other helpful apps can help you track expenses, get local currency, and even alert you about traffic or weather issues. You can also keep a digital copy of all your travel documents in a file and keep important contacts like addresses, phone numbers, and credit card information handy in case of any unexpected delays or mishaps.

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