Even with the growth of online travel booking sites, the travel agency industry is expected to grow over the next several years. Online booking has forced traditional travel agencies to market themselves in new ways, often by catering to niche markets.
Today, travelers who want a well-planned vacation but don’t want to do the planning can find a travel agent who caters to exactly what they’re looking for. Agencies often handle transfers between multiple destinations, event planning services, group travel arrangements and more. Working with a travel agent can help take the stress out of travel.
Top 10 Best Rated Travel Agencies
Hotel Planner lets you book the ideal hotel for any occasion, from weddings and reunions to tour groups and sports trips. Simply check off any discounts that apply and search according to your needs.
|Read 309 Reviews|
With a focus on interface design, BookIt.com strives to offer travelers the most intuitive online travel services available. Their easy-to-navigate website makes booking hotels, airfare and rental cars quick and easy.
|Read 4358 Reviews|
Since it began in 1983, Vantage Deluxe World Travel has been helping travelers immerse themselves in local cultures around the world. The company prides itself on the handpicked tours and journeys it provides for their customers.
|Read 221 Reviews|
CheapOair is a simple-to-use vacation planner that includes search engines for hotels, flights, car rentals and package deals. The system automatically compares costs from several companies to find the very best deal.
|Read 3818 Reviews|
With Tours4Fun, you can search any destination in the Americas, Europe or Australia and find a complete list of travel tours that include your chosen city. Fine-tune your search with preferences like walking or biking.
|Read 483 Reviews|
Onetravel.com is a travel website where people can search for flights, hotels, cars and vacation packages online, with many of the services offered at discounted prices. The site has featured deals within set price ranges.
|Read 651 Reviews|
The Global Work & Travel Co. is one of the world's leading youth travel brands offering working holiday, volunteer, au pair, teach and internship trips, which include one-on-one coordination and 24/7 support.
|Read 1078 Reviews|
Global Vacation Network is a membership-based program that gives members great deals on quality domestic and international condo stays. Members have access to 24-hour travel advice and information via the website and a hotline.
|Read 335 Reviews|
Since 1996, smarTours has served over 150,000 travelers. The company offers affordable traveling, tours and cruises. Travelers can choose between five different cruise locations and can choose between over 35 tour locations.
|Read 84 Reviews|
Zicasso is a unique travel site that matches clients with three specially selected travel experts to plan a unique itinerary. Plan African safaris or luxury tours in Latin America, Asia and Europe with the help of 24-hour support.
|Read 7 Reviews|
What features matter most?
Travel agencies aren't required to obtain licensing or certification, though recognized organizations accredit and certify members. Consumers can confirm a travel agency's accreditation by looking for the accrediting body's logo on a travel agency's website or brochure.
- ASTA accreditation: ASTA accreditation assures clients that the agency operates under ASTA's code of ethics and will communicate with clients about unexpected changes to travel plans.
- IATA accreditation: IATA accreditation provides agencies with a Sales Agency Agreement and a TIDS number that authorizes sales of international and domestic airline tickets.
- Unaccredited agencies: If considering an unaccredited travel agency, take into account that unaccredited may mean inexperienced or point to service problems that caused a loss of accreditation.
Credentials are similar to accreditation, though on an individual level. Some travel agents obtain certification through The Travel Institute, which confirms the agent's interpersonal skills and destination knowledge. These types of certifications ensure that travelers are working with an agent that has the necessary experience to anticipate travel issues and provide solutions.
- Certified travel associate (CTA): A CTA is a professional who has a minimum of 18 months in the travel industry and has passed courses to enhance skills and service.
- Certified travel counselor (CTC): A CTC has the skills of a CTA, advanced industry training and five years industry experience.
- Certified travel industry executive (CTIE): A CTIE is a travel industry professional who has management training within the travel agency.
Travel agencies charge fees for services provided to clients, for time spent researching and for booking travel arrangements. Inside knowledge of travel-related discounts may make booking through an agency less expensive than self-booking over the Internet.
- Airline ticket procurement fee: An airline ticket procurement fee, a fee charged by the travel agency for purchasing tickets on behalf of the traveler, is the most common travel agency fee. Consumers can expect to pay approximately 36 dollars, as of 2015 for ticket procurement.
- Travel agency service fees: Other common travel agency fees include fees for booking hotels and rental cars and for time spent researching trips.
- Itemization of costs and fees: While there is no law requiring travel agencies to provide an itemized breakdown of costs and fees, consumers can request this information to ensure fees are reasonable.
International travel planning
Planning a trip to another country is typically more complex than planning a domestic trip due to extra paperwork and the need to know details about the destination country. A trusted travel agency can help manage details and paperwork on the client's behalf.
- Destination-specific research or specialization: Some agents with certification from The Travel Institute are trained in region-specific bookings while others charge for time spent researching destinations.
- Hotel and flight packages: Using a travel agency to book international hotel and flight packages can cut costs even after agency fees are added. To check for savings, compare online price listings to prices provided by the agency.
- Visa and passport requirements: Having visas and passports in order is vital when traveling to other countries, so confirm which documents are needed with the agency early in the trip-planning process.
Group travel planning
Planning a trip for a group can be challenging because some facilities cannot accommodate groups. Travel agencies find suitable venues and transportation for the entire group.
- Large-group discounts: Travel agencies have access to discounts based on established relationships with hotels and airline companies to secure the best price for group bookings.
- Transportation: A large group is not going to fit in a standard rental car. Confirm the travel agency is able to book a van or several cars to meet the group's transportation needs.
- Itinerary details for the group: In addition to sleeping arrangements and transportation, eating out and visiting tourist attractions can be problematic for a group. Ask the travel agency to arrange the fine points of the group's trip in addition to handling the larger details.
Land and sea planning
Planning a vacation involves more than selecting a country and booking hotel and airfare. Hiring a travel agency can help make sure travelers enjoy every stop in their itinerary.
- Add a cruise: Discuss adding some sea travel to any vacation. Different on-board accommodations and ports of call allow travelers to extend the reach of their trips.
- Seamless transfers: Making the transfer from onshore accommodations to a cruise ship can eat up almost an entire day, but a travel agent takes care of the hassle by arranging travel to the port at the right time.
- Planning excursions: Ask the travel agent to arrange desired shore excursions at the ship's ports of call that enrich other planned itinerary stops.
What are different types of travel agencies?
Commercial travel agencies
Commercial travel agencies cater to business travelers. These agencies specialize in tracking down deals for business travelers to help companies manage travel costs.
Commercial travel agencies
Travel agencies that exist only in cyberspace provide clients with the convenience of online booking and discounts that are available only to professional travel agencies. Some agencies offer both online booking and walk-in service for clients.
Niche travel agencies
Niche travel agencies provide clients with specialized knowledge of a region. This enhances the travel experience for clients by ensuring paperwork is in order and providing specific, often first-hand, knowledge of the area tourists are visiting.
Memberships associations give travelers access to the organization's travel planning services for the cost of an annual membership rather than charging per transaction. This type of agency offers the most benefit to frequent travelers.
Who's it for?
International travelers can cut the stress of planning trips to other countries when a travel agency manages the details. This includes making sure each traveler has the proper paperwork and booking suitable travel accommodations.
Business travelers can take advantage of savings associated with discounts available only to travel agents. Some travel agencies also handle the detailed expense report paperwork required by the accounting departments of most companies.
Group travelers can save time when looking for accommodations that have room for the entire group by using a travel agency. Group bookings through an agent also provide a money-saving opportunity.
Travel bargain seekers
Travel bargain seekers can discuss their travel budget with a travel agent. This is a way to determine what discounts and money-saving packages a travel agency can arrange.
HotelPlanner uses online technology to connect customers with hotel group sales managers. Founded in 2003, HotelPlanner offers group travel services in more than twenty languages and partners with more than 50,000 hotels worldwide.
- Guaranteed lowest group rates: For consumers booking 10 or more rooms per night, HotelPlanner matches or beats the prices offered elsewhere.
- Free room for the planner: The group's coordinator, the person who set up the hotel block, is provided with a free room when booking more than the minimum number of required rooms for the block.
- Local experts: A local expert is assigned to each group to provide advice about navigating the city and enjoying activities.
- Easy bid requests: The electronic room-booking process for groups is quick and easy to navigate. Travelers fill in the form and wait for hotels to bid on their travel, cutting out hours spent on the phone and putting negotiating power in the hands of the traveler.
- Hotels bid on clients: HotelPlanner provides clients with the option to have hotels bid for the client's business, ensuring the best rates and packages.
- Best for HotelPlanner is best for group travelers, such as business groups, wedding parties and reunion attendees.
Vantage Deluxe World Travel was established in 1983 when it started offering affordable deluxe travel to select groups, like teachers unions and alumni associations. Since then, the company has escorted almost half a million travelers all around the world.
- Trip options: Vantage has a wide variety of destinations and activities for travelers to choose from, including Canada, Europe, Russia, China, Latin America, and Africa. Travels can go on river cruises, small ship cruises and/or land tours.
- SmartPay discounts: When individuals pay for their trip in full in advance of their travel date, they receive a discount. Travelers who pay 15 or more months in advance receive a 12 percent discount.
- Single travelers: Those traveling alone can receive special supplements or roommate discounts when they book select cruises with Vantage. The staff also works to create a friendly environment, helping solo travelers make connections with other guests and locals.
- Loyalty rewards: Vantage rewards those who travel with them multiple times. After customers’ first trip, they receive a five percent credit for future trips, and after three trips with Vantage, customers receive free upgrades and special onboard discounts on cruises.
- Theme trips: Those with special interests can take one of Vantage’s special themed trips. Special interest options include wine and beer themed tours, nature tours, music, art and culture tours, religious tours and more.
- Best for Vantage Deluxe World Travel is best for world travelers, frequent travelers, groups and solo travelers.
Global Vacation Network is a membership association that provides condominium packages and advice for saving on other travel-related details, such as airfare.
- Best for Global Vacation Network is best for frequent travelers, such as families or couples, looking for travel opportunities in exotic locations without sacrificing the comforts of home.
Tours4fun is a full-service travel agency, offering both brick-and-mortar and online customer service options.
- Best-price guarantee: Tours4fun guarantees clients will receive the lowest possible prices. Travelers that find a lower price within 72 hours of booking can get a credit or refund of the difference in price.
- Customer satisfaction: Customer service is available 24/7 through the Tours4fun website. The company has representatives who speak English, Mandarin and Spanish.
- Easy access: One-click service is available using the company's app or website to simplify booking a flight or hotel.
- Group bookings: Groups can use the Tours4fun web portal or app to arrange travel at the best possible price.
- Events and shows: Consumers can enjoy discounted events and shows while traveling to enhance the vacation experience.
- Best for Tours4fun is best for experienced tourists or first-time travelers.
The smarTours company has been in business since 1996, offering low-cost group vacation tours to exotic worldwide locales. To date, more than 150,000 satisfied travelers have used smarTours to book their holiday.
- Best for SmarTours is best for groups needing to travel on a budget while still experiencing exotic locales.
Liberty Travel is a traditional brick-and-mortar travel agency with a presence in several major cities in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New England, Illinois, California and Florida.
- Best for Liberty Travel is best for travelers in search of a customized travel packages, insider information about destinations and for budget-conscious travelers.
Fox World Travel has 11 regional vacation travel agencies in Wisconsin and has agents who set up trips for corporate travelers all over the United States.
- Find a way: Agents are trained to find a way to put client requests first, even if the requests are challenging.
- Group travel: Traveling in groups is made easy with trips designed for wedding parties, schools, media events, and a range of customizable options.
- Business travel division: The business travel division specializes in meeting the unique needs of business travel like meeting planning services, attendee management, online event booking and more.
- Travel tools available: Travel tools that simplify traveling, such as currency converters and a flight tracker are provided online for clients to use.
- Online booking: Vacation packages can be viewed and booked online through the company website.
- Best for Fox World Travel is best for vacationers, families and corporate travelers who want the assurance of a smooth trip.
Zicasso partners with top travel agencies that specialize in specific styles of trips or destinations and puts agencies together with travelers. Founded in 2006, by two world travelers, Zicasso serves the luxury travel market from its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
- Best for Zicasso is best for individuals in search of unique travel destinations and experiences.
Trafalgar offers guided tours of popular vacation destinations, such as Europe, North America, South America and Asia, in larger groups of up to 52. Trafalgar also partners with the TreadRight Foundation to support underprivileged communities and work toward sustainable tourism practices.
- Authentic experiences: The guides that are assisting travelers live and work in the communities being toured.
- Travel options: All Trafalgar tours are guided tours, but there are numerous options to choose from. Travelers can decide on a family vacation, country explorations, special interest tours and more.
- Keep options open: Flexibility is built into the travel itinerary for exploring destinations with several nights of free exploration on every tour. This allows travelers to revisit favorite sites or explore areas not covered by the tour group.
- VIP treatment: Trafalgar trips provide exclusive access to sights so travelers avoid waiting in lines.
- Friendly experience: Local guides greet clients and treat them as friends, providing comfort and a sense of welcome in a strange land.
- Best for Trafalgar is best for travelers who want the experience of a guided tour with a friendly, immersion experience.
Audley Travel has offered custom-made trips based on client input since opening their doors in 1996. With more than 75 destinations and travel types that range from luxury to road trip, vacationers can create and enjoy their own ideal holiday away.
- Preplanning assistance: Clients can browse the website or discuss interests with a travel planner to get destination ideas.
- Detailed planning: A specialist helps plan each detail of the trip until the client is satisfied and approves the itinerary.
- Pretrip preparation assistance: The assigned specialist is available for questions and reviews the client's itinerary four days before departure.
- Midtrip support: Clients are provided with a number to call that is manned 24/7 if assistance is needed.
- Multiple destinations: Trips to over 75 worldwide locations are offered by Audley Travel.
- Best for Audley Travel is for those who know what they want and are in search of a tailor-made experience.
The Global Work & Travel Co. is a youth travel brand that offers working holiday packages in more than 100 countries. Travelers can choose from more than 500 programs, ranging from volunteer expeditions to student internships.
- Best for The Global Work & Travel Co. is best for young adults who want the experience of traveling, while also performing meaningful work.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
11 – 54 Best Rated Travel Agencies
Founded in 1967, YMT Vacations has served more than 1.5 million satisfied travelers. Their lowest price guarantee allows you to book with confidence, as they will refund the difference plus 10 percent if you find a lower price.
|Read 113 Reviews|
Outward Bound is a program that provides outdoor education to youth and adults, including adventures like sailing and rafting. The company's website provides a search tool that helps people easily find the correct trip for them.
|Read 12 Reviews|
Cruises-N-More, established in 1998, offers discounted cruises for all types of sailings, including luxury cruises and river cruises. Consumers can also use the site to book hotels, rental cars, tours and shore excursions.
|Read 8 Reviews|
SkyAuction describes themselves as a travel auction marketplace, where they negotiate deals with airlines, hotels and more so their customers get the best deals. The company has been in business since 1999.
|Read 100 Reviews|
Singles Travel Getaways has been in business for more than 20 years. The company offers guided tours to solo travelers. It hosts tours to all seven continents and more than 100 countries.
|Read 6 Reviews|
Overseas Adventure Travel is a company that brings travelers beyond the tourism in a country. With an OAT adventure you will travel in a small group to discover the culture and lifestyle of the country that is being visited.
|Read 38 Reviews|
Vacation Internationale is a travel company that connects people with a trip who want a leisure experience. Their resorts offer spacious condominiums to ensure comfort and relaxation.
|Read 35 Reviews|
Originally founded in 1958, Grand Circle Travel has become an industry leader in small ship and river cruising. With vacation destinations worldwide, travelers can explore new vistas by land or sea when they book with GCT.
|Read 111 Reviews|
Founded in 1984, Vacations To Go has served more than 5 million vacationers with deeply discounted cruise prices. Vacationers can get up to 82 percent off last-minute cruises, so they can visit top destinations on a budget.
|Read 114 Reviews|
With more than 250 million reviews about over 5.2 million restaurants, attractions and accommodations worldwide, TripAdvisor.com combines information from hundreds of websites to offer the best hotel prices available.
|Read 449 Reviews|
With a customer count of more than 1.4 million over their 14 years in operation, CheapCaribbean.com offers unique beach vacation packages. Find all-inclusive packages with a full range of search options for easy booking.
|Read 148 Reviews|
Cruises.com is a travel company that connects travelers with the best cruise option for their needs. The company can connect people with over 25 different cruise lines that are traveling all around the world.
|Read 39 Reviews|
Known as one of the most well-known hospitality brands in the world, Hilton Grand Vacations offers accommodations on six continents with more than 550 hotel and resort locations. They also offer spa and entertainment options.
|Read 439 Reviews|
With over 11 years of experience, International Travel Network uses their knowledge of technology to provide solutions for travel agencies, airlines and independent agents.
|Read 39 Reviews|
Funjet Vacations has roots going back more than 40 years and is a part of the Mark Travel Corporation. Funjet offers vacation packages and discounts for a wide variety of destinations and all-inclusive resorts.
|Read 45 Reviews|
EtourandTravel opened in 1995 and has been planning vacations ever since. The company is headquartered in Florida and books trips to Orlando and Daytona Beach, Fla., Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Branson, Mo.
|Read 60 Reviews|
The Royal Holiday vacation club allows members to freeze the cost of travel for up to 30 years. Members can choose from more than 180 destinations and use holiday credits to book their next vacation instead of paying cash.
|Read 72 Reviews|
Liberty Travel can help you plan your holiday to the very last detail through a location search, package vacation ideas and pre-booking for spa treatments and dining out. Some locations even include a personal guide.
|Read 95 Reviews|
Global Travel International (GTI) was founded in 1994 and is a membership organization for independent travel agents. Members can work as travel agents and, with the company’s Travel Program, enjoy savings on personal travel.
|Read 58 Reviews|
Visit premier U.S. destination cities in both the Eastern and Western half of the country with Vacation Tour & Travel. Package owners get exclusive resort access and special deals through a partnership with Carnival Cruises.
|Read 94 Reviews|
Founded in 1995, Airfare.com is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Their bulk buying strategy for airfare helps travelers save up to 70 percent off the price of airline tickets through airline discount consolidation.
|Read 319 Reviews|
Founded in 1969, Apple Vacations is one of the leading holiday destination sellers in America. They were the first to bring all-inclusive packages to the U.S. and they boast the largest selection of nonstop flights for travelers.
|Read 105 Reviews|
An independent subsidiary of The Priceline Group, Kayak.com processes over 1 billion travel queries each year. Available in over 30 countries and 18 languages, they offer discounts on hotels, airfare and car rentals.
|Read 99 Reviews|
Summer Bay is a condominium resort near Orlando, Fla. The resort is owned by Exploria Resorts. The property features an adventure park with zip lines, bumper cars and more as well as an aqua park and mini-golf course.
|Read 35 Reviews|
American Express Travel allows cardholders to earn extra rewards to spend on travel and pay for a vacation using nothing but points. Both vacationers and business travelers can use AmEx services to book hotels or flights.
|Read 71 Reviews|
Hotels.com is an online travel agency that specializes in helping people find and book reservations at hotels, condos, bed and breakfasts and more. The company was founded in 1991 and joined Expedia Inc. in 2002.
|Read 1939 Reviews|
Travelocity is a website that lets travelers search for discounted prices on hotels, flights, cars and cruises. It was the first website to let people search and book reservations without going through travel agents.
|Read 1144 Reviews|
VIP Travel Reservation is a travel agency based in Port Orange, Fla.
|Read 30 Reviews|
Expedia is an online travel agency founded by Microsoft in 2001. The site helps people find and schedule diverse travel services, including car rentals, flights and hotels. It also recommends activities in destination cities.
|Read 3052 Reviews|
Booking.com is a website that helps travelers find discounted rooms in hotels, villas and apartments around the world. Members can place and cancel reservations through the site instead of contacting hotels directly.
|Read 1736 Reviews|
Executive Tour and Travel Services, Inc. (ETTSI) has been in business since 1989 and is based in Daytona Beach, Fla. The travel agency offers vacation and cruise packages to a variety of destinations.
|Read 39 Reviews|
VacationRentals.com is a part of the HomeAway family of brands. The site allows travelers to rent lodgings from independent property owners, and allows the latter group to make money with their unused vacation home or condo.
|Read 23 Reviews|
Orbitz gives travelers a direct way to research and book travel services. Available services include flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and activities. Members can also bundle services to save up to $775 on travel plans.
|Read 904 Reviews|
Priceline is a website that helps people find travel deals offered by other travel companies, including hotels, airlines and cruise lines. Priceline users can create their own vacation packages by combining services.
|Read 2614 Reviews|
Founded in 2000, Hotwire.com is a discount travel agency that lets individuals research and reserve travel services online. Hotwire.com became a part of Expedia in 2005, but it still maintains its original website.
|Read 1014 Reviews|
Combining the best of an online travel portal and a local travel agent, MakeMyTrip.com is the industry leader for India travel. With 20 offices in India and two in the U.S., this concierge service helps make travel stress free.
|Read 283 Reviews|
Infinity Incentive Group, established in 2004 and headquartered in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., is a rewards fulfillment firm. They work with other businesses to provide consumers with rewards, including travel, from that business.
|Read 33 Reviews|
RailEurope sells train tickets and rail passes for major European railways. It primarily serves travelers from North America. The company has roots going back to the 1930s and is headquartered in White Plains, N.Y.
|Read 55 Reviews|
Cheaptickets.com is a travel service website founded in 1986. The site offers members discounts on car rentals, flights, cruises, hotels and other travel-related services. As of 2006, Orbitz is Cheaptickets.com's parent company.
|Read 426 Reviews|
The Grand Canyon Tour company opened in 1984. It offers bus tours of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam that leave from Las Vegas. Travelers can also purchase VIP tours, helicopter rides, rafting trips and more through the company.
|Read 13 Reviews|
Fox World Travel allows you to search through many different vacation options and packages, including Disney vacations. The system makes it simple to set up a destination wedding, group holiday or getaway for one.
|Read Expert Review|
Trafalgar prides itself on being a network of "insider" travelers that put real insight into their vacations and tours. Search for itineraries based food and drink, family-friendly or Europe, the U.S., Canada, Asia and Britain.
|Read Expert Review|
Audley Travels asks, "What kind of journey would you like to take, and when would you like to leave?" Beach, cultural, family, wildlife and more, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Audley Travels' tailor-made tours.
|Read Expert Review|
|Out of Business||Read 385 Reviews|