Unless you’re returning to the good ol’ timeshare at the tried and true ski destination your group visits year after year, resigned to skiing the same terrain and dining at the same highly recommended but predictably mediocre pizza/burger/overpriced craft [anything] joint, ski trip planning can be a racket. Those who want to introduce a little variety into their R&R repertoire tend to visit something like 40 websites in the research and booking process. Ski trippers who manage to escape phase one without decision paralysis may have just pulled the trigger on a hotel or vacation rental that’s neither in town nor on the mountain and nothing like the photos. SOL, FML. 

But it doesn’t have to be a lesser of two evils kind of choice between samedom vs. facepalm. Travel agencies—you remember those businesses that do much of the planning and booking for you—are making a comeback. “Information overload,” Anne Courcier, owner of Breckenridge-based SnowVentures, cites as the reason behind this resurgence. “People don’t have time to research and compare dozens of sites and hundreds of reviews; they want a professional with experience and expert advice.” 

Sarah Plaskitt, founding director of travel agency and magazine, Scout, sees this travel trend happening on a destination-dependent basis. “Yes there are destinations that are relatively easy to find and book everything online, but increasingly people are seeking out more authentic experiences to places that are off the beaten path,” she says. “Organizing a trip to places like that requires someone with expertise about that destination who can recommend the best places.” 

Still not convinced that interfacing with a real life, human travel aficionado is the way to go for your next ski vacation? Consider these top reasons to hand over the ski trip booking reigns and put down the device with 40 web tabs open. 

1. Expert, Often Firsthand, Knowledge

“Many (though not all) travel agents have been to destinations that they specialize in,” reports Plaskitt. “Nothing can beat that when making sure you get the right resort and hotel for your dreams, needs and budget.” We can’t think of a better way to avoid getting burnt by dubious accommodations whose staged photos appear to have come from a fancier hotel.       

2. Personal Service & Dedicated Point of Contact

Both Courcier and Plaskitt point to hands-on customer service and support in the event of a major mishap as one of the most significant travel agency perks. Conversely, booking through an online travel agent or deal aggregator means you’re on your own in many cases should issues arise, according to Plaskitt, who adds that in their case: “Agents are there to help before, during and after your trip.” 

3. Custom Package, Discounted Price

Finally, the time spent with a travel agent will pay off in “ease of booking and our ability to customize a package that is as unique as each client,” Courcier remarks. Not only are they in the know about what to book, where and when, travel agents put in the legwork to ensure a ski trip’s many moving pieces are assembled into a seamless, and unforgettable, experience. “Most ski travel agents can package everything up, such as accommodation, lift passes, rentals, transfers, etc.” Plaskitt offers. “This makes it easy to book and pay for and stress free when in the resort.”

The cherry on top? “Agent specific deals,” she goes on. “Often, resorts provide travel agents with great deals on resort products that you can’t get if you book on your own (even via the resort itself).” And if all that wasn’t already enough, both Scout and SnowVentures offer these services fee free. Notes Plaskitt: "My business model is the same as most travel agents, and I make money by commission paid by the supplier when there is a booking. So they pay the same price, or less, than what they pay if they book direct."  

There’s really nothing to lose but your timeshare window this season. But not to worry, your trusty, crusty old digs will still be there, waiting for you the season after that.