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The Case for Travel Agents When DIY becomes too much, should you outsource travel planning?

By Elaine Glusac

This story appears in the October 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


To supply his Los Angeles-based jewelry company The Pearl Source, Leon Rbibo makes frequent trips to Tahiti, Japan and Hong Kong, importing about 10,000 pearls per month. He also visits distribution markets from New York to Hawaii. About five years ago, overwhelmed by the logistics of planning at least two trips per month, he made the switch from organizing his own travel to using an agency.

"As I travel more often, I need to travel more comfortably," says Rbibo, who, at 6 feet 8 inches tall, is keen on maximizing airplane legroom. "Often travel agents have more knowledge when it comes to seating. They can get special placement on a plane or get better deals [on upgrades]. We lost an enormous amount of time tracking and using miles. While some people say travel agents are dead due to the internet wiping them out, businesses don't have the time or luxury to do those things."

In this age of DIY internet booking, small businesses may question the need for professional travel planners. After all, metasearch engines like Kayak for flights and Trivago for accommodations make cost comparisons simple for the occasional business traveler.

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