Know the difference between Travel Consultants and Travel Agents

Allison Sodha

What is the difference between a travel agent and a travel consultant? The shift started in the 1990's with the introduction of online booking sites. Travelers who once reserved air tickets and hotels directly with a travel agent now had access to book directly. In the following 25+ years, thousands of agencies closed their doors and the business models shifted from distributors to specialists.

Halong Bay - Woman in traditional dress

Travel agents are often affiliated with an agency or consortia and serve as an intermediary between booking systems and travelers. They may have a speciality for a destination, region, or niche like African safaris or Caribbean cruises. Agents also receive incentives from the companies and organizations they promote. For example, if they book a certain number of rooms with Marriott Hotels & Resorts, they accrue bonuses and/or complimentary stays for personal use.

Travel consultants have emerged to serve the need of those seeking experiential travel. While online sites now dominate the market for air ticket + hotel bundles, consultants offer a personal touch. They are advocates who create a conversation, map logistics, and offer authentic experiences for their clients. Consultants often work directly with Destination Management Companies (DMC's) abroad in the respective countries.

Travel consultants can offer more boutique and heritage properties, like this palace in Varanasi, India

So who is the ideal resource for your trip?

If you are seeking a good deal on basic services, including flight ticketing and hotel rooms, an agent may have volume from their host company to offer discounted rates. However, if a good value to you includes assistance and advocacy on specialized experiences, a travel consultant will have access to more local connections - farmhouse cuisine with villagers, tea with a royal family, or private viewings of art collections. 

At Sodha Travel, we consider our team travel consultants. We are certified destination specialists, independently owned, and only reserve comprehensive itineraries. Additionally, we are not associated with a commission or loyalty program and can therefore offer unbiased suggestions for accommodations and experiences. Our philosophy is to create relationships with our clients and offer truly customized travel programs. We have spent thousands of hours staying in hotels, meeting guides, inspecting vehicles, and building relationships with vendors, proprietors, and locals. Sodha Travel has a mindful, integral approach to tourism with a commitment to socially and environmentally conscious itineraries. This expertise and awareness comes from years of servicing South Asia.

Let us know how we can assist with planning your adventure in South Asia!

Topics: Accommodations, Transportation, Education, consultant

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.