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Posted 11/05/2023 in Travel Agent Life

Why Do Travel Agents Charge Service Fees?

Why Do Travel Agents Charge Service Fees?

Travel agents have been in the business of booking travel for decades. Since the chaos that ensued when the pandemic hit, more people are returning to travel professionals, wanting an experienced travel agent to manage their trip. 

Those who are used to booking themselves are likely asking why travel agents charge service fees and what this fee covers.  

Most people understand the value and expertise that travel agents provide - like everything we outsource to a professional - you pay for the better experience you get when working with someone who is an expert. Others may question why travel agents charge service fees. This might come from an outdated belief that travel suppliers pay travel agents wages via commission to book their products, which used to be how agents were paid for their time. Commissions are no longer paid by the majority of airlines and over time, suppliers continue to remove or lower commissions, so while this might be true in some cases, this is not sustainable as the only source of income for a travel agency business. 

A good travel agent will be recommending what is right for you to have the best experience on your trip, not who is paying them the most commission, and this might mean making the booking for zero income. Of course they need to charge for their time and experience. Would you work for free? 

The benefits of booking with an experienced travel agent often outweighs the service fees you pay.  

Let's look at the reasons why travel agents charge service fees and why they’re valuable to the travel booking process.

Travel Agents Provide Expertise

Travel agents don’t just make reservations; they provide valuable knowledge that can save time and money, such as destination recommendations, insider knowledge of the travel industry, and helpful travel tips. They usually have firsthand experience with the destinations, airlines and accommodations they recommend, whether through their own personal travel, or because they've booked hundreds, if not thousands of trips for their clients, which allows them to offer travellers valuable insights and advice. The fee charged by travel agents represents the value of their expertise and is a small price to pay for the convenience and knowledge that travellers receive.

Travel Agents Save Time

Booking trips can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the process. Travel agents have access to a range of information and systems that can quickly and efficiently find the best deals and options for clients, saving their clients time and effort. 

Additionally, travel agents can handle the end-to-end details of the trip, such as hotel reservations, tickets, day trips and transportation throughout, taking the pressure off the traveller while they are in the destination and allowing them to focus on enjoying their trip.


Travel agents who charge service fees are transparent in their pricing structure, which benefits both the travel agent and the client. It ensures that clients understand the value they are paying for and eliminates hidden fees that might arise from booking through third-party websites.

Personalised Service

There are many benefits to working with a travel agent versus booking through an online booking engine or travel website, but perhaps the most significant benefit is the personalised service that you receive. Travel agents are invested in their clients’ trips and work hard to create customised itineraries that are tailored to their individual needs and preferences. The extra attention to detail and personalised service makes for a more enjoyable and stress-free travel experience.

Extra Perks & Discounts

Travel agents have access to special deals and discounts, which can save clients money. They can also provide clients with extra perks such as room upgrades, free breakfast, and other bonuses not available to the general public. These added benefits can be worth the service fee on their own and can make the difference between an average trip and an extraordinary one.

Better Value Overall

When you work with your travel agent on the 'big picture' journey, instead of booking individual items separately at different times, your travel professional can often recommend better ways to achieve your goals, including booking certain elements together to secure wholesale pricing and save you money. 

When you think you've booked the best price online, you've just booked the best price you can see. Travel agents have access to fares and products that are not available to the general public and often have ways of combining flights on tickets in their central reservation systems, which cannot be done on booking websites.  

Travel companies will always aim to list their best prices online to remain competitive, but sometimes the prices are cheaper because they don't include as much. Are you comparing like-for-like and reading the fine print?  A travel professional knows what to look out for and can recommend inclusive options that save you money in the long run. 

Managing Your Trip - After Booking & While You're Away

A full-service travel agent is not only making your reservations and helping you craft the perfect tailored itinerary at the time of booking. They also manage any changes along the way and look after anything that pops up while you are on your journey. 

Flight schedule changes are frequent and can throw the rest of your plans into disarray. Travel agents are trained experts in managing flight changes and cancellations and know when, and how to reissue schedule changes to best suit your itinerary. 

Travel agents are also well-versed in dealing with emergencies, so if you need to get home in a hurry, a travel agent will have all your booking information and the know-how to assist you quickly.  If you are in an emergency or stressful situation, calling lots of different suppliers to change or cancel the remaining elements of your trip is the last thing you want to be doing. It's one call to your trusted travel professional when you are in good hands. 

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

While hours of research can usually help you plan out and put together a great holiday, you don't know what you don't know. Google and ChatGPT is only as good as the questions you ask it and often spouts incorrect information. How do you know who to trust or what information might be missing from your searches?

Travel professionals have dedicated their careers and often their personal lives to the pursuit of learning everything there is to know about travelling. They are passionate about travel themselves, so they know, because they go! When booking their own travels and that of their many clients, over time, years and often decades, there are valuable tips, hidden gems and things that you would never think to ask about that they will impart and weave into creating the perfect holiday for you. 

How much can I expect to pay for a good travel agent's professional services?

Travel agent service fees will vary depending on many factors and can range from just $30 per person for a domestic travel booking, up to several hundred per person for more involved itineraries of greater length with many moving parts. 

A reminder that their knowledge, expertise and tools can also save you a lot of money, sometimes thousands!

Some will charge a non-refundable upfront fee before even working on your trip. This is to ensure your commitment and that their time is valued when researching and putting together the perfect itinerary for you with all their expertise, insider tips and knowledge. 

When booking and planning your holiday, you pay with your time, 
or you pay with your dollars. Either way, you pay.

When you pay a service fee, you will get the experience of a professional to save you time and money and be there for you in the lead up to your holiday, as well as any questions or issues while you travel, they are just a phone call away. If you choose to book yourself, you might save money upfront, but you will pay in time researching the myriad of options, deliberating on the best way to go, making changes, managing everything and worrying about being responsible for it all. Often you will end up paying more because there are things you just don't know when it's not your full-time passion and profession. 

Travel agents provide a valuable service that goes beyond just making your reservations. They provide expertise, save you time, offer transparency in pricing, provide personalised service, and often save you money, in many cases saving you more than the fee itself. The service fee charged by travel agents represents the value of their expertise and the convenience they provide. At the end of the day, the small fee charged by travel agents is a worthwhile investment in ensuring your holiday investment is a stress-free travel experience.

Read our page 'Why Use A Travel Agent' for more information how booking with a travel professional can help you.

I can book my holidays myself, so why should I use a travel agent?

Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should

After all, there are plenty of things in life that we outsource to someone else who can do it better. Here are just a few examples, but we're sure you can think of plenty more!

  • We can make our own coffee at home for less than 20c a cup, but many of us choose to pay up to $5 or more for our daily brew at a cafe (25 x the price of at home!) because doesn't it taste wonderful when it's made by a pro who has tools we don't have?

  • We can cut and colour our hair at home, but most of us do not. We are prepared to pay for an expert hairdresser who understands the right way to do it, how to suit our face and colouring, etc best.

  • We can exercise outdoors or at home for free, but we pay for gym memberships, classes or personal trainers who are expertly trained in helping us achieve our goals, tailoring it to our needs and holding us accountable.

  • We can go grocery shopping ourselves, but we might enjoy the convenience of having it delivered, even though it costs us more. 

  • Lawnmowing, meal-prepping, ironing, house cleaning, the list goes on. 

Experts do a better job in a quicker amount of time, so we can focus on other things we need to do in life!

Search our travel experts by destination and/or type of holiday, compare reviews and find the right match for your trip needs at Travel Agent Finder. Start your search here