Travel Management

Understanding travel agency fees: the essential guide

Grégory Meslin
Responsable Marketing & Communication

Whether you're planning a business or leisure trip, you might want to save time by using a travel agency. The concept of a tour operator is simple: buy holidays in bulk and for less. This solution often saves you a lot of money, but it's essential to take travel agency fees into account. Here's what they include!

What are the travel agency fees?

Travel agency fees cover part of the administrative costs involved in booking and managing your trip. These may include flight searches, accommodation reservations, train or plane tickets, transfer coordination, etc. 

Not all travel agencies charge handling fees, but the vast majority do. When you're planning a trip with a travel agency, we advise you to find out about any fees beforehand. This should be done right from the start of the process, so that you clearly understand the costs associated with their services, and avoid unpleasant surprises at the final settlement!

To give you an idea, here's an overview of what a travel agency's handling fee includes.

Consulting fees

First of all, travel agencies may charge a consulting fee for the time spent talking with you, understanding your needs, your preferences in terms of destinations, airlines and type of accommodation, and developing a customized itinerary. Consulting fees also include planning fees, covering the time and effort invested by the agency in designing a trip tailored to your specific needs.

Service, management and transaction fees

Service fees refer to reservations for airfare, accommodations, car rentals, as well as certain travel-related activities. Travel agents coordinate the various elements of the trip to ensure that everything is synchronized, such as flight schedules and hotel reservations. Typically, transaction fees are charged as a percentage of each reservation, modification or cancellation on your behalf.

Service and management fees can also include administrative costs, linked to the agency's general administrative costs, such as the maintenance of reservation systems, personnel, office expenses, etc.

Assistance costs

The advantage of using a travel agency is that they often offer 24/7 assistance throughout the planning stage, as well as ongoing assistance during the trip in case of problems or unforeseen situations.

Insurance costs

Going through a travel agency sometimes involves extra charges for travel insurance, either included or optional. This offers protection to travelers in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Travel insurance costs cover various aspects:

  • trip cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, accident or death of a family member;
  • trip interruption for medical emergencies or unexpected events ;
  • medical insurance to cover emergency medical expenses abroad, including hospitalization;
  • baggage insurance guaranteeing reimbursement in the event of loss, theft or damage to baggage during the trip;
  • third-party liability covering damage caused to third parties during the trip.
  • etc.

Insurance costs in France may vary according to the coverage chosen by the agency and the duration of the trip. Find out which travel insurances are best for you, and contact your bank. You may already have adequate travel insurance with your bank card!

Booking through a travel agency: is it more expensive?

If you're thinking of entrusting your travel project to an agency, you're probably wondering: will I pay more? Because if the travel agency is working on my trip, there are bound to be costs!

The answer is no, it won't cost you more. On the contrary, it often saves you money! Whether it's for low-cost or first-class air tickets, accommodation, activities or tours, the travel agency negotiates contracts with various brands and companies at the best price, and obtains exclusive promotions. 

So, if you use a travel agency, the chances are that the price of your holiday will be lower than if you booked directly with each service provider. In many cases, travel agencies can help you save money. The only thing to bear in mind is the booking fee, which varies from one agency to another, depending on the services offered.

What percentage does a travel agency take?

Most travel agencies take between 9% and 15% commission for anything to do with services, stays or tours. For a single airline ticket sold, a travel agency might take 8% of the public price.

However, this percentage varies from one travel agency to another, depending on the services they offer. Some travel agencies may charge between 15% and 20% commission. Make sure you find out what the fees are before embarking on your adventure with a travel agency, and above all, use an agency that is transparent about them!

Why use a travel agency?

The first advantage of using a travel agency is that it saves you time. Travel agents can take care of your trip from A to Z. If you've ever planned a trip, you know how complex and time-consuming it can be. Travel agents take care of planning, hotel reservations, flights, transfers and other details that save you time and energy.

Travel agents are experts in their field and can provide you with useful advice on destinations, the best times to go there, activities to do, and so on. Their in-depth knowledge can help you plan a trip perfectly suited to your needs and preferences.

Then, the second big advantage is that they give you access to preferential rates and exclusive offers, having negotiated with their partners. This means you'll get better deals than if you booked with each provider yourself.

Finally, when you use a travel agency, you often benefit from assistance in the event of a problem (flight delays, cancellations or accommodation problems, etc.). This takes the stress out of your trip, and allows you to quickly resolve any unforeseen situations with a single point of contact!

What's the difference between a travel agent and a travel agency?

A travel agent is someone who works for a travel agency, or who works independently. They help you plan your trip, book flights and hotels, and advise you on visas, travel insurance and tourist activities.

A travel agency is a commercial enterprise that composes and sells a range of travel-related services. It is made up of one or more travel agents.

There is no better option between the two, it all depends on the quality of the services provided by the agency and the independent travel agent, and of course, the prices of the trips offered and the handling fees!

Travel agencies are required to provide a financial guarantee to ensure that travelers are reimbursed in certain situations, such as trip cancellation, non-performance of scheduled services or even bankruptcy of the agency itself. The aim is that, should something go wrong, you're protected from A to Z.

Today, the majority of companies work with a travel agency to plan their business trips, and find it a real added value in terms of travel management. 

To help office managers, we've developed Fairfees, which compares your travel costs across different agencies. This easy-to-use simulator will help you choose the travel agency best suited to your needs.

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