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The Travel Agency VS the Online Travel Site

18 January 2013

The concept of the high street travel agency has had some serious competition from the emergence of online travel sites in recent history.

Before the mid 90’s the high street travel agent was the most popular way of booking a cheap flight for your family.

Post 90’s a barrage of sites began to appear online and the availability of the internet in homes across the world became widespread.

Transactions became more secure and consumers started to feel safe spending their money online.

The public began booking their travel itineraries in droves on online travel sites and found that they could search for a flight at any time of day or night.

They no longer had to rely on a traditional travel agency to do the work for them. By comparing many airline prices online they could compare fares easily and book at their own convenience from the comfort of their own homes.

Over time the public began to realise that the online travel sites could produce better prices than the traditional high street travel agencies which were sometimes guilty of inflating prices by employing dubious tactics such as “racking”. i.e. highlighting the more expensive fare in favour of a cheaper one due to higher commission rates.

Serious Problems For The High Street Travel Agency

Ever since the next generation of flight comparison sites began to emerge the high street travel agents have had serious competition.

These comparison sites enabled hundreds of airlines and travel agents to be searched in seconds making it practically impossible to beat their fares.

We tested a few quotes that we could get offline and online to see if this is still truly the case.

We went to a few of the existing high street travel agencies and compared their prices with the prices we could find online.

Some of the more popular travel agents still in operation in the high street include Thomas cook, Flight centre and Trailfinders

We compared their high street prices against flights discovered by the best online Metasearch engines today…

Here are the results…

Flight 1

Flights from London to Bangkok – flying from 1st to the 8th of April 2013

High Street Travel Agency Prices:

  • Thomas cook = £597
  • Flight centre = £575
  • Trailfinders = £588
  • Online Comparison site prices:
  • Skyscanner = £550 (wins)
  • Momondo = £559
  • Kayak = £571


Flight 2

Manchester to New York flying from 8thst August to 23rd of August

High Street Travel Agency Prices:

  • Thomas cook = £621.19
  • Flight centre = £595
  • Trailfinders = £607
  • Online Comparison site prices:
  • = £559 (wins)
  • Kelkoo = £571
  • Skyscanner = £572


Flight 3

Birmingham to Marrakesh Flying from 14th of May to 21st of May

High Street Travel Agency Prices:

  • Thomas Cook = £397.44
  • Flight Centre = £375
  • Trailfinders = £388
  • Online Comparison site prices:
  • Dohop = £294 (wins)
  • Momondo = £307
  • Skyscanner = £371


As you can see from the above examples – an online Metasearch engine wins over a traditional high street travel agency price every time.

This is due to the superior number of airlines and travels agents that can be searched in a very short period of time.

Even If you go to a few high street travel agents it still pales in comparison to the breadth of the search that can be carried out online.

Carrying out these searches is particularly easy on our cheap flight finder which compares the most powerful online flight comparison sites for you in seconds.

What is the role of a high street travel agency today?

There still exists an important role for travel agents today. Computers, even though highly advanced can still not compete with the power of the human brain.

Travel agents are particularly useful in putting together complex itineraries and sorting out the booking process in its entire minutia from A-Z.

In today’s day and age, you can compare the modern travel agent to a kind of personalized travel concierge service that takes the headache out of particularly demanding trips.

In fact, up to 70% of cruise holidays and large group flight deals are still booked through traditional high street agents.

So the future is not all doom and gloom for travel agencies. It may be less helpful for straightforward flight trips which can be easily booked online – but for more complex itineraries a travel agent can be very helpful.

For straightforward round trips, we recommend using our powerful online flight comparison tool.

Why not try it out?

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