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Despite Internet, travel agents still serve purpose

Friday - 6/1/2012, 10:43am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Despite all the online options available to research and book vacations (think Kayak, Travelocity, TripAdvisor), travel agencies have survived the Internet age.

And Washington Consumers' Checkbook says there are plenty of good reasons to use one.

Travel agents may have firsthand experience with unusual destinations. They can offer advice about security warnings or appropriate travel documentation. They also may have access to special money-saving deals.

If something goes wrong, a hotel or tour company that doesn't want to risk losing future business might be more responsive to a travel agency versus a single guest.

When choosing a travel agent, Checkbook recommends finding one interested in learning personal preferences, and who responds quickly to calls and questions. Also, realize there will be fees for the service, and find out what those include.

A "Certified Travel Consultant"(CTC) is required to have at least five years of experience, must pass a test for certification and is obligated to do continuing education.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)