Auto Club Travel Agent Survey Reveals Best Ways To Get The Most From Vacation Budgets

(LOS ANGELES, June 9, 2009)Hawaii is the No. 1 destination that creates the most satisfying vacations for Southland travelers, according to a new survey of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s most experienced travel agents at the start of the summer vacation season.

The Auto Club survey also found that many clients of travel agents were surprised to learn that using an agent can be cheaper than booking a vacation through the Internet, and that travelers are most likely to create an enjoyable vacation experience for themselves if they provide the travel agent with as much information as possible about their personalities and preferences.

With budget concerns on top of many travelers’ minds this year, Auto Club travel agents say they are encountering more price-sensitive vacation planners. The survey revealed that the most common misperceptions about travel agents – such as the myths that they charge a fee for their services, pass on commission costs to clients or can’t match prices of packages booked on the Internet – are being increasingly encountered by travel agents.

“I can normally match and often beat any price, and I am there for them if anything should arise that would need to be addressed,” said one Auto Club travel agent with more than 20 years of experience. Another longtime agent added, “I explain to clients that we do not charge for our services and that many times, AAA travel agents can offer discounts and benefits that clients do not have access to when booking on their own.”

Another agent pointed out an additional advantage for budget-sensitive travelers: unlike most Internet travel sites, which require full payment for vacations at the time of booking, the Auto Club and other agencies allow travelers to pay for their trips in installments prior to the departure date.

According to the survey, the top vacations that have travelers returning to tell their travel agents about their excellent trips are:
  1. Hawaii
  2. Cruises to any destination
  3. Alaska
  4. Italy
  5. Multi-country European tours

The best reasons for using a travel agent to plan a vacation, according to the survey, are:

  1. A travel agent can provide options that the traveler might not otherwise consider to improve the vacation
  2. A travel agent is aware of current trends, travel advisories and the quality of travel providers, and can help the traveler avoid potential problems on the trip
  3. The traveler knows they have an expert to contact in case they have an issue
The Auto Club conducted its survey from May 2 to May 9 from among its more than 400 AAA Travel Agency employees in Southern California.