Why you should book your tickets with local Online Travel Agencies

Online travel and booking has finally entered the last market frontiers, in Africa. While in the past, travel in many parts of Africa involved paying a visit to your travel agent and making endless calls to plan your itinerary, the internet has revolutionized the way travel planning is done today.

The most trusted means to book a ticket to your destination is via the airline's booking website with many airlines now eager on installing cutting edge ticket reservations systems integrated with the global GDS. Booking directly within an airline has many advantages, since you are dealing directly with the travel service providers, you can expect to be offered quality service by the travel provider itself!

Alternatively, travellers are now planning their journeys and booking their tickets via Online Travel Agencies like Expedia. The advantage of this is that you can always find very cheap fares on online travel agencies, sometimes even cheaper than the fare offered on the airline's website.You are also able to compare fares from many airlines and they also provide you with additional useful information about your flight like duration, number of stopovers if any. Some even include useful information about your destination including hotels, car hire, tips on places to visit and more.

While global online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz are quite popular and have entrenched their hold on the travel markets, travellers can still have the option of local online travel agencies which in spite of their small size, still retain a certain winning edge in the local travel market through their local focus and presence.

In Kenya, the most popular Online Travel Agency is Travelstart which offers some very good fares to various international destinations. So what are the advantages of booking a ticket on a local online travel agency as opposed to a global and established player like Expedia?

Local travel agencies are quite fast since they are hosted locally.While flight searches on portals like Expedia or FareCompare will take an eternity, searching for a flight on an Online travel Agency like Travelstart is just a matter of seconds. This is due to the fact that the website is hosted locally and submitting information to a server based in California from Nairobi will naturally take longer than doing the same to a  server based in Nairobi.

Another advantage is the local customer support from staff and local travel consultants who understand your language and culture and are in a better position to help you with your travel needs than for example a customer service representative based in the US or Europe. Besides, many local online travel agencies have local offices in your city and can help you plan even more expensive complex itineraries in person especially where you are uncomfortable with undertaking large online credit/debit card transactions.

Local Online Travel agencies also have flexible payment methods that international travel agencies may not necessarily have. While booking on international online travel agencies might require your credit or debit card, local online travel agencies are flexible to cheque payments, mobile payment, bank deposits and more. Besides, with the blacklisting or greylisting of some African countries by global eCommerce platforms, a local online travel agency might just be your prince in shining armour allowing for seamless travel planning irrespective of your location.

I have also noticed that it's possible to get very good fare offers on a local online travel agency. Sometimes better than what you would find on Expedia. Online travel is now moving to emerging markets, always buy from a local travel retailer where one exists and make huge savings while at the same time helping build local eCommerce businesses and keeping jobs in Africa!

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3 Responses
  1. You can learn to book tickets with local online travel agents. Good post

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