Competent travel consultants know what you want, they speak your language, and they’re there for you when you run into trouble when you are planning a holiday. How do they know this? Firstly, they listen in a way to understand your travel needs and they help when something goes wrong. They should ask many questions to find the best option for you.As self-booking options increase, the need for travel agents seems to be getting less. Some say that travel agents are obsolete. Yet there are more unhappy travellers than ever. Why is this so? It is not always possible to get as much information from an online booking site as from a travel consultant. Nor is it generally possible to get “human” assistance should something go wrong from a “portal”.Buyers of travel products have expectations that cannot be met by all booking sites. It is difficult to have an informed 2-way conversation with a website, although there are more chat options coming available.A competent travel consultant will fill in the gaps. Sometimes the traveler may not know what questions to ask. The competent travel consultant can simply explain.So how does one find a competent travel consultant? Look for certain traits!Competent travel consultants are:Good listeners and seek to truly understand the needs of every individual traveller. They will ask about interests and tastes to better tailor your holiday.Experts and have good product knowledge as well as a robust back-up plan for finding informationHonest and to not have favourites in the travel businessGood communicators and explain all the tour inclusions, exclusions and costs up front – no hidden feesAvailable when you need them both during the planning process and the travelHow do I find these things out?The best way to discover the competency of a travel agent is to talk with him/her. This can be arranged either face-to-face, online chat, telephone etc. During the discussion you will form an opinion about him or her. Most of all, look for someone who you can relate to and work with, particularly if things go wrong. The travel consultant has no control over the flights, accommodation or tours but a competent travel agent will actively help in all situations.Competent travel consultants are here to stay. Only the incompetent travel agents are obsolete because of the online booking systems. It is up to you to discover a travel consultant who listens to your needs and meets them as well as keen enough to help you if needed.