"Why should I use a travel agency? It’s so easy to book everything online myself these days!"
While that’s true in some cases, it may not be in others. Below I’ve put together a list of when you DON’T need a travel agent to book your holiday, followed by a few benefits of using one, along with some circumstances when having an agent on your side could be extremely useful.
1. You love spending hours online, researching different places and things to do in a new country.
2. You have a lot of free time to do the above research required.
3. You get a thrill out of feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of travel options offered online.
4. You don’t like booking anything in advance - you’d rather show up, book things on the spot, and cross your fingers that it all works out.
5. You have already been to the place you want to visit, and know exactly what you want to see and do there.
6. You like booking everything separately (hotel stays, activities, drivers, guides, reservations, etc.) because making 20 individual payments is fun!
7. You feel comfortable traveling to a new country without having any local support if needed. You bought a phrasebook, after all!
8. You like leaving pieces of your vacation to chance, you daredevil, you.
9. Your mom is a travel agent, she’ll do it all for you because she loves you.
With that being said, here are a few benefits of using a travel agent, especially when traveling to a new country (speaking from what we do here at Royal Croatian Tours):
1. Over the years, we have built personal relationships with all of the hotels where we send our guests. If anything isn't quite right with your reservation upon arrival, we know the right people to talk to in order to get things sorted out quickly (and likely with upgrades).
2. We have also built personal relationships with our guides, drivers, leaders and locals who offer experiences and excursions we include in our tours. This means you get great service with the best people, all with a personal touch.
3. We completely take the hassle out of planning your holiday, booking everything from your hotels, guides, drivers, and excursions, to reservations at local restaurants if you’d like us to! Your only job is to enjoy your holiday. We make sure everything booked, confirmed, and double & triple checked.
4. While you’re on your trip, we are responsible for it going smoothly, not you! That takes a lot of responsibility out of your hands so you can just relax.
6. We are experts in the field and can recommend the best places to go and what to do in each place. We take the guesswork out of planning your dream vacation and can offer exclusive, local activities & excursions you can’t find online.
7. If you need anything at all on your vacation, we’re just a phone call away. We provide 24/7 assistance in case of any emergency or help in general (unlike a search engine, whose job stops after you find what you were looking for).
The problem: One sweet couple had a mix up with their entry visas and weren’t able to enter Croatia at all (this all happened at the airport, on the day their trip was supposed to begin). Their whole vacation would have been lost, as everything had to be cancelled last minute. They called in absolute disbelief that this was happening, and asking if we could help in any way.
How we helped: First things first, Ivan personally went down to the police station to see if there was any alternative visa they could obtain immediately, or any other option to enter Croatia. Unfortunately, that was a dead end.
When nothing came of that, I spent the rest of the day dedicated to saving their vacation, calling hotel managers, drivers and guides directly to gain refunds and credits wherever possible. Because of the relationships we’ve built with our partners, we were able to secure about 75-80% in refunds.
Using those refunds, I was able to plan and rebook an entire 14 day itinerary through surrounding countries, Serbia & Bosnia, where they were able to enter without a visa. This all happened within a matter of ~4 hours, and the best part was that it didn’t cost them a cent!
If they had planned the original trip on their own, they would have lost most (if not all) of their money, and headed back home with a completely wasted vacation, however, they ended up with a new trip that was planned and rebooked, completely free of charge!
The problem: A mother and daughter were on a trip we booked for them, and the mother had fallen while walking and hurt her leg. She called us a little frantically because she wasn’t sure if she had done any serious damage. She wanted to get it checked out but didn’t know where to begin.
How we helped: We sent our local driver to immediately go pick her up and bring her to the correct hospital for those types of injuries. Our driver also went inside with the mom and daughter, spoke to triage on her behalf, and stayed with them as a translator & support until they felt comfortable.
Turns out it wasn’t a serious injury, she just had to take it easy for a few days and not over do it with walking. We called all of our guides in the cities & places they had left to visit on their itinerary, let them know about her injury, and they modified her tours accordingly with less walking, driving where possible, etc.
The problem: One couple was nearing the end of their trip and checked into their hotel in Dubrovnik. Somehow, there was an error in the hotel’s system, and they got a lower-category room than planned. The hotel told them there weren’t any other rooms available and there was nothing they could do. The couple then called us promptly to see what was going on with their reservation.
How we helped: We immediately called the hotel and spoke directly with the manager, as this was unacceptable, of course. The manager ended up refunding their whole first night, then upgraded them to a premium executive suite for the remainder of their stay, and even sent a little gift to their room as an apology for the mix up.
We can also organize and put together almost anything! A few years ago we had two guests who told us last minute that they wanted to renew their vows the very next day at Plitvice Lakes. They asked if we could help them achieve their dream ceremony in just 24hrs.
It was a tall order, but we accepted the challenge, and were able to organize a beautiful day for them at the National Park. We sent their vows to our guide who acted as the officiant, had a small ceremony and pictures at a tiny church on the way with a bridal bouquet, and rose petals, they were taken around Plitvice for some stunning views, and their personal driver acted as an impromptu photographer at a few romantic spots on the way back to Zagreb.
Dreaming up a vacation is easy, but actually putting it all together can be stressful, and we can take all of that stress away! In short, yes, you can absolutely plan a trip 100% on your own, but the ease, efficiency, quality and support of working with an agent is hard to match.
If you’re interested in reading a few of our other posts about Croatia:
- 38 Local Tips & Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling to Croatia
- Travel to Croatia With a Toddler or Baby (From Experience!)
- Tipping in Croatia: a Complete Guide With Suggested Amounts!
- Croatia Travel Itinerary for 5, 7 & 10 Days
- How I Learned to Speak Croatian as an Adult (in 7 Steps)
- Driving in Croatia (a Helpful Guide With Practical Tips)
- Zagreb’s Flea Market, Hrelic: a Helpful Guide
- Croatian Money: KN or EURO, Exchanging $, and Daily Costs
- Top 5 Croatian Travel Snacks
- 8 Reasons You Should Never Swim in the Adriatic
- Top 10 Day Trips From Zagreb, Within 1hr Drive
- 5 Reasons Croatian Grannies are Cuter than Kittens