I never would have used travel agencies in Lagos till I found this
Travel agencies keep popping up from different angles, each one coming up to offer a unique travel service to ensure they sell and perform better than their competitors. And since the population in Lagos is estimated at around 21 million, it is no surprise that most of them have their offices and even their headquarters in Lagos.
But then, as the local woman that I am, I can?t afford to be caught off guard because I asked someone to do for me, what I could have easily done myself. So I have always thought as I had a very big resentment towards the travel agency and didn?t even want to hear any company with a travel anything attached to them. To me, they were just a lazy set of people sitting comfortably somewhere known only by the heavens and collecting money from a lazy set of Nigerians who would rather be duped, than put effort to ensure their money goes to good use.
I used to shade everyone who came to meet me to say they met with so and so agent from XYZ travel company, to help them with their travel details and plans. I would hiss and say "small travel, you cannot do by yourself". Laugh if you will, just don?t mind me. I thought it was a child's play until I had to sort travel details out myself. I would gladly have loved to be duped at a point in time because it was not nearly as easy as I thought.
I would wake up early in the morning hoping that all I had to do was go to the embassy. Every new morning I got to the embassy just to realize there was this particular weird document I should possess but had no idea of. I?d have to go back home and run around trying to get that document. It was the best time to get exploited if you wanted quick attention. My eyes saw things and my pockets felt lighter.
The funny thing about the whole story is that you will ask someone what documents are needed and they will give you a detailed list. You will take it happily thinking that was all you needed. Till a fellow sister will ask you if you know you need another document and you will be like, where is this one coming from again now. You will get everything all the sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers tell you to get and the embassy will still say your documents are incomplete.
I cried, so many times, I gave up, so many times and I honestly wished and hoped someone somewhere would just take the stress off my hands. At that stage, I didn?t even care about the amount they will charge, I just wanted to be free of the stress.
It was during this very depressing period of my life that I got to know that there was an organization called the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies that served as a checkmate for all the travel agencies around Nigeria. Not only that, they work to promote the interest of the agencies under them, serve as a mouthpiece for the agencies, regulate their activities, maintain discipline and professionalism in the industry. I mean, the agencies as long as they were fully registered, could be held accountable for every wrong step they take. Why did no one ever tell me that?
I even got to know that this NANTA is recognized by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Universal Federation of Travel Agents (UFTAA.) With all these recognitions, I wonder why I had put myself through all the stress. I mean, with one agency, I could get all the connections needed to make all things easy for me. I felt pained and used.
This was just the beginning of revelation for me. I then realized that they really were not lazy, they did a whole lot of work. They had an image to uphold and they could not afford to disappoint those they represented. And they even ensured they covered all the angles. Some travel agencies have a physical travel center located at International airports for customer?s convenience, they even allow for installment payments for travels. Like how wonderful can that be?
There are travel agencies that go as far as helping with travel cards, travel sims, and loyalty programs. Like, these agencies think it all through for you and all you have to do is pay for their service and you get all you need to make your travel experience as pleasing and pleasurable as possible. Personally, I would not think of a travel sim until I get to my destination and have issues calling out or so. Then I will start another round of stress and struggle, for something I could have easily paid for and had sorted out earlier.
Then there are travel agencies who render various services like flight bookings, hotels, local and international flight ticketing. I mean, you have one travel agency that will book a flight for me and then sort all the details out just like hotel.ng does. All I will be required to do is make my details available and then myself at the right time. Please where have I been living all these while, struggling to decide on the hotel closest to my location, when an option like this is available.
That?s not the last of it, I also heard there are travel agencies that have a one-stop booking portal. In case you don?t know, that means that on one website, you can book a flight and then go ahead to book a hotel room at your destination. It takes away the stress of going to the airport or trying to find various means to book a flight. Then you get to your destination and have to carry your heavy bags up and about trying to get and search for hotels closest to you. So much stress just for your comfort.
Then there is the ease that comes with airport transfers. You get to the airport and you find yourself an awaiting vehicle to deliver you to your destination, wherever that is. I was opportune to be treated like that and I honestly felt like a celebrity. I didn?t have to start struggling to get a cab and handling all my luggage at the same time. I had a vehicle waiting just for me, It was an incredible feeling!
The visa processing service rendered by travel agencies was the game changer for me and pulled me in to love them as much as I do now. After all the stress I?ve put myself through because I was too old to get help from the right source, this was the saving grace for me. It took a whole lot of stress off me. I saved my energy for the interview, I had a guide all through the process and I did not even spend as much as I did when I tried to do it all o my own.
Then there are travel agents that provide car rentals for their customers. This means that if you would rather have a car to yourself at your destination country, rather than get picked up at the airport and driven to the hotel, then your wish can be granted. As a person, you would not have to worry about jumping buses or hustling for cars at all times. You would have a car at your beck and call just like it belongs to you.
The interesting thing about using travel agents is the packages that come with their service. They have direct contact with various hotels and resorts and as such using their service means that you get to enjoy discounts and some other hotel packages and resort packages. You get to pay less and even enjoy better offers when you book a hotel using a travel agency.
What I mean in essence is that if you book a room at let?s say, Eko hotel, you might be lucky enough to pay for the same service just because you made your bookings via Hotels.ng. It saves you the whole stress of getting to the physical location of the hotel and having to stand around at the front desk just to sort and decide on the room you would prefer and what not.
There are as well travel agents that help with passport processing, tours, travel insurance, cargo services, company retreat packages, and some travel agencies even offer tourism deals. What else could we ask for? I?m stuck on them for as long as they last. And I hope that means forever.
Travel agents offer so much more. They ensure to give you a personal agent who will attend to your every need and want from start to finish. I mean, if someone had told me that with them, I could sleep and wake up peacefully, knowing that there is someone somewhere fighting my battles for me. I would dream better. I would save time, money and even stress.
What was the particular feature of travel agents that won your heart and closed the deal for you? I would really like to know. I will be waiting right in the comment section.
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