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Travel agents trending with young vacationers

Travel agents are trending with millennial travelers. The benefits of the human touch when booking a trip. Sponsored by AAA.

What do you do when Kayak leaves you up a creek with no paddle? When Expedia is not expeditious?

"Doing it yourself is a huge time commitment, and I really don't think you get all your questions answered by just Googling or checking Trip Advisor," said Chris Mathis, when asked why he would choose a travel agent over a more DIY approach to booking a trip.

More travelers are like Chris, turning away from online booking and planning trips with an actual travel agent instead:

"We've definitely seen a trend of younger people coming in to work with travel agents," said Mary Lightfoot, a travel agent with AAA Washington.

The main customers? Millennials like Chris and Justine Mathis.

“We have super busy lives - it's hard for me to want to sit on the computer for hours and research places,” Justine said.

According to a 2016 report from the American Society of Travel Agents, 22 percent of travelers booked through a travel agent in 2016, up 14 percent from the previous year.

The Mathises have been to St. Lucia, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic and Mexico – trips booked by their agent, Mary Lightfoot.

"We actually are advisors, we don't just book the trip, we actually listen to your needs, and wants, and what you're looking for, and we help that dream come true."

Other reasons more people are picking agents?

They can find better deals. They don't require payment up front for the entire trip like many websites do. And they're great for those group getaways that can break the bank - and try the organizer's sanity:

"Sometimes it’s a bunch of friends that want to travel together and they're trying to coordinate five or six or 20 people going, and they don't have the time to put all of those pieces together and take care of all the details,” said Lightfoot.

Agents also help clients find new favorites. For their honeymoon, Lightfoot helped the Mathises discover Saint Lucia.

“I don't know if we would have gone there if it hadn't been for her suggestion because we didn't know about it. It was an awesome trip,” said Justine.

And people seeking that 'awesome trip' aren't the only ones happy about the comeback of travel with a human touch.

"It's neat, it's fun to have those relationships, and help make dreams come true,” smiled Lightfoot.

This story is sponsored by AAA.

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