(Closed) To Travel Agency or Not to Travel Agency?

posted 7 years ago in Honeymoons
  • poll: Did your travel agent save you money on your honeymoon?
    Yes, my travel agent saved me money. She got me deals that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. : (12 votes)
    31 %
    No, my travel agent didn't save me money. The swine! : (5 votes)
    13 %
    I looked into a travel agent, but it didn't make financial sense to book through someone. : (16 votes)
    41 %
    My travel agent didn't save me money but his/her services were totally worth the extra expense! : (4 votes)
    10 %
    Other (please explain in comments) : (2 votes)
    5 %
  • Post # 3
    Member
    2889 posts
    Sugar bee

    We booked our honeymoon through a travel agent mostly because we were going to the carribean during hurricane season and wanted insurance and that was the best way I knew how to get comprehensive insurance. As a bonus, she was able to get us on a flight I couldn’t find online. This is the onl time I used a travel agent and we travel frequently enough that I would have been capable of booking the trip myself.

    I’ve also been to Japan (summer 2009) and planned the trip myself with a cheap flight found on the internet. Usually, I will put together a trip and then go to a travel agent on my lunch brea one day and see if they can beat my price. If they can, I’ll book with them but generally I can get cheaper flights. I would highly recommend taking ab it of time to price out what you want to do and then seeing if they can do better for a similar plan. You may be right, travel agents may know more about temorary tourism stimulus grants as I know mine mentioned some rebates the Bahamas was offering but I imagine if  they really want to get the word out you should be able to find such offers online as well.

    Post # 4
    Member
    450 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2012

    Just suffice it to say, I am a travel agent, and in my past life i worked for expedia and was a manager. The people that work at expedia as well as most of the big online companies are not travel agents, they do not have travel agent credintials and have not been to travel agent school. The majority of them are call centers and fill in the blank systems on the computer.

    If you think websites like Expedia, Travelocity & Kayak eliminate the need for a travel agent; I give you 10 reasons why you are dead wrong.

    1. Niche Expertise. This is the main reason to use a travel agent. Most agents specialize. It can be for travel to specific destinations whether a city, country or region. It can involve different accommodations such as luxury villas, all inclusive resorts, B&B’s, spas or even hotels. They may cater to business travelers, seniors, students, sportsmen or honeymooners. Some deal only in cruises. Some focus on rail or bus traveling. Whatever your need, there is a travel specialist to meet it.

    2. Knowledge of International Requirements. Another essential reason to use an agent. International travel involves ever changing regulations, documentation, confirmations and vaccinations. There are visas, permits & other paperwork to contend with. If you are traveling on safari with a weapon you better have all your documents in order or you may find it waiting at home for your return. Only an experienced agent can cover all your bases. There is nothing more frustrating than bureaucratic red tape, especially if you don’t know the language. In travel, your time is money. A missed business opportunity may never be recouped. If you screw up you have only yourself to blame. The pros are less likely to err & if they do, you have a better chance of getting compensation.

    3. Knowledge of Options for Your Budget. Very rarely is travel just a plane ride to a location. It also involves lodging & travel within your destination—is it better to rent a car & from whom? Maybe taxis are better. Are rail or subway options faster and cheaper? Should you buy a pass and which one? What accommodations are best suited for your trip & budget. An experienced agent can work up an itinerary based on your particular needs and keep it within your budget. It’s all about options. Agents have them readily available.

    4. Accommodate Your Special Needs. Unless you travel alone, there are others who must be considered. Are you traveling with the entire family or you and your wife. Are their seniors traveling, small children or physically challenged person? Each type of traveler has special needs. What about your dining preferences? Many agents who book travel to specific locations have been there themselves or have the word of mouth review from their past clients & colleagues.

    5. Give Unadvertised Discounts & Upgrades. Agents are often privy to unadvertised special promotions that can save you money. Agents who work in a particular area gain discounts & upgrades they can pass on to you. Do you know that the person traveling with a senior also gets the same senior discount? Agents realize they score points with you by saving you money. Let them do it.

    6. Time Savings. Yes you can look online and check dozens of different websites for airlines, seating, travel times, connections, hotel availability, activities, tours, car rentals and the accompanying reservations, deposits & payments. But why bother? Let the agent do the work. They work faster, know exactly where to look and have access to the contact people involved. An hour with a travel agent will save you ten. Guaranteed!

    7. Access to Latest News. Whether it is weather, politics, or any issue which may affect your travel, agents have the scoop. They get news from direct client feedback as well as colleagues & government sources. They routinely visit the destinations they send client. An agent’s business is to know what is going on in the places they send you. I had planned a trip to a particularly exotic resort in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands but changed my plans after my travel agent told me the beach had been reduced to a 3 foot swatch by a hurricane the year before. You can’t see that in a resort brochure or website. It’s not information readily volunteered by the resort reservations staff either

    8. Alert You to Future Opportunities. A good agent will advise you of upcoming travel bargains, tips and concerns via newsletter and email. Just tell an agent your plans for next year and they will make it their business to look out for deals for you.

    9. Personal Attention. An invaluable benefit. Once a travel agent has worked with you, they get to know you as a person. They learn your likes & dislikes. They can suggest destinations & activities based on these. My wife & I love the Caribbean. We want the best beaches away from the crowds and resorts with gourmet food. Knowing us, our travel agent finds the perfect places. We are very rarely disappointed. Which leads me to reason 10?

    10. Advocate and Problem Solver. If there are problems, they know who to call to get a resolution They can negotiate better than you since they routinely deal with the people & companies involved. Your vacation or business travel time is valuable. Why waste it and bear the aggravation to deal with a problem? Let the agent get you satisfaction. I once had a bad experience at a resort where the proprietor was absent for unexpected reason and the staff decided to take it easy resulting in awful service (cat’s away syndrome) I complained to my travel agent and she got me a full refund of the sizeable service charge. The resorts and companies that deal in the travel industry cannot afford bad press from travel agents. Bad news travels fast. Competition is fierce for the travelers’ dollar. If an agent finds a company has many complaints or is not willing to fix problems, the agent will not send them any more business. If you’re unhappy, you’ll tell your friends and the agent can lose you & them.

    Overall:
    Bonus! Non-Tech – Old School Crowd. Let’s not forget about all those people who simply like to do things in a more traditional way – Human to Human contact. Many of us have parents or relatives that are just not computer or tech savvy. They like to go down to their local travel agent in the mall or around the corner. These are in many cases their neighbors and friends. They crave the personal touch. They like to talk about other things like what’s new in the neighborhood, their kids’ baseball game or simply the bad or nice weather they’ve been having. This is how things were done before the internet and they will continue to be necessary for many years to come.

    Travel agents are valuable professional. The Sellsius community will welcome them as members and promote them to the community (like all members). They can post their professional profiles, write tips articles and contribute to the forum. Visitors to the site will be able to search for them in the Getaways section. They can be found by their particular expertise.

    Post # 5
    Member
    10288 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2011

    While I don’t think TA’s are absolutely necessary, it doesn’t hurt to book with one. In most cases they can get reduced rates but even if they can’t, most will match the lowest rate available. They’re free to the customer so I always wonder why more people don’t utilize them. 

    We booked our Honeymoon cruise through a travel agent and it’s been amazingly simple. All we had to do was pick the cruise, our category and then approve her choice of cabin and we were done. She handled everything else. She wasn’t able to get us a reduced rate but what we booked was the cheapest I’ve been able to find online and it came with $100 onboard credit.

    Let me tell ya a little story about how a TA pretty much saved my friends lives…

    One of my best friends honeymooned in Jamaica a few years ago.  She and her hubs booked their trip through the same TA that we’re using and she handled everything. My friend and her husband get to Jamiaca and everything is fantastic. They have perfect weather up until the day they’re supposed to leave and thats when things got dicey. They had no choice but to check out of the resort and make their way to the airport in hopes that the storm would pass. Well, the storm ended up being a hurricane and the airport closed. My friends headed back to the resort to see what their options were. The resort (one of the sandals ones) refused to let them check back in without paying upfront. Problem was my friends had NO money. Their families weren’t able to help (still amazes me! My parents would have sold their car if they had to!) so they were stuck. My friend called the TA and she ended up paying for the extra 3 days that they had to stay with her own personal credit card. Without the TA, who knows what would have happened to my friends. 

    Post # 6
    Member
    3978 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    Honestly, I think travel agents are for lazy people. If you don’t want to do the research yourself then a travel agent can be great since they are paid to do it for you. But with how powerful the internet is now I think they are unnecessary.

    If I can talk personally on a forum or other type of site to locals and/or a whole slew of people who have been to the place I want to go, I think they are able to give me just as good and often far better information than an agent–and for free!

    There are countless sites about things you need to have or remember, requirements for certain places, tips and tricks, and advice for every country and region on the globe. I’ve been to over a dozen different countries and have never used an agent.

    Post # 7
    Member
    10288 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2011

    @kala_way: I have to disagree. We booked with a TA and I’m hardly lazy when it comes to stuff like this. The fact of the matter is, a TA literally saved my friends lives. Without her, I don’t know what would have happened to them. I know their situation was unique and hopefully that kind of thing doesn’t happen very often but when we’re talking Mother Nature, who knows. I certainly don’t think TA’s are for everyone and it’s true that sometimes they don’t offer the best deal but when they do, I think it’s silly not to book with one. If anything you have an advocate back home if something happens. 

    Post # 8
    Member
    3978 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    @UpstateCait: wow, just read your full post, that is a pretty extreme situation and quite a giving TA.

    I’m sure it depends somewhat on the type of vacation you’re doing. Maybe cruises or tropical stuff is different. I’ve only ever done city hoping throughout Europe where I wanted a lot of control over what hotel I stayed in, what activities I did day to day, what trains I took when and where, etc. Maybe I’m just a control freak 🙂

    Post # 9
    Member
    10288 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2011

    @kala_way: Makes sense. If I was traveling how you described I probably wouldn’t use a TA either. 

    Post # 10
    Member
    5296 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: January 1993

    Our travel agent was free. She did get us deals we wouldn’t have known about otherwise, and we had a contact if someone would have gone wrong while in Jamaica – if something like what @UpstateCait: said would have happened. In a lot of cases, the TA may have been there themself or has had several customers stay there. Ours did – and she told us things like which day to do off-resort inclusions to avoid the Cruise crowds. Things you wouldn’t know to even ask about. She knew our budget, and we ended up being almost $1000 under it. That’s pretty awesome when you’re planning (and paying for) a wedding.

    @kala_way: I would suggest putting together your plan (without booking, just plan it all out) and go to a travel agent. See if they have any tips – (this hotel is in a bad area, this time of year is less tourist-filled). You can have control over your vacation – if you don’t like something, you can ask to have it changed.
    As far as the lazy part, while we were meeting with our travel agent (in Jan.) the phones were ringing off the hook because ice in Atlanta had cancelled/delayed several flys to and from Madison. All the agents were working a Saturday to help rebook all their customers and make sure they were taken care of. I know if I had been one of those stranded passengers, I would have been reaaaaaaaaaaalllly glad I had someone to do all that for me.

    Post # 11
    Member
    2394 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: December 2009

    If I was booking a vacation to somewhere that I had zero experience with and didn’t know anyone who had been there and could offer some pointers, I would consider a TA.  Other than that, I think I could handle it all on my own.

    Post # 12
    Member
    562 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: April 2012

    We already knew exactly where we wanted to go and how much it would cost booking it ourselves, and then we called around to several travel agents to see who had the best deal. We ended up saving a couple hundred dollars more than if we would have booked it ourself.

    Post # 13
    Hostess
    11167 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper

    After a little research I think we are going to go ahead without a TA. We had looked into pricing and were quite shocked at the significantly higher cost the TA quoted us versus what we could get through the touring companies on our own (almost double!!).

    I am sure in some circumstances having a TA is beneficial however for our pariticular cruise we just didn’t see enough benefits to excuse such an overcharging.

    Post # 14
    Member
    450 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2012

    @Treejewel19: Especially when working with cruises, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Same Ship/date/cabin category and even location on the ship. The prices will vary based on all these options. The cruiselines regulate the pricing for the cruises, with the only difference being less should a particular agency have group space booked, which whether they do or not you would not know about, as you the traveler are not privy to that information. I can say this… for instance a Carnival Cruise balcony 7A pricing verses the same ship/date pricing in a balcony 8A will be different pricing. WHY? Because that 7A is an obstructed view, meaning there is a lifeboat outside your room.  Ocean view pricing varies as well depending on if it is a porthole, picture window and again if it is obstructed view or not. 

    The location on the ship will be different as well, as sometimes you may be in a room higher up on the ship, however you may be under the pool deck, or near the children’s area; neither of which are ideal at all.

    Another price difference will be if you are on a restricted fare… again I will go with Carnival, however this also applies to Princess and Holland America, but they have certain pricing where the deposit is non-refundable from the minute the cruise is booked. This is not ideal, although the rate is usually lower than the other promotion rates, if something happens and you have to cancel, you lose.

    Another reason to go with a travel agent, is that they can keep track of pricing for you, should your cruise pricing drop between time of booking and when the final payment is made, your agent is responsible for receiving that price drop for you. I actually have a program on my computer that each time I book a client, I plug in their ship/sale date/cabin category and price, anytime the price goes down, it alerts me. Believe it or not the pricing does change quite often. I have a client now that just received their 3rd price drop in the last 6 months for their Christmas cruise this year. So far a $200 pp savings, which is great for them as they have 19 people sailing.

     

    Post # 15
    Member
    202 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2010

    sorry i didn’t fully read the thread so I apologize if someone said this before:

     

    if you have american express:  BOOK THROUGH AMERICAN EXPRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You can do it through a relative’s card too if you don’t have one.  They will plan your whole trip within you budget (with your feed back) and give you the BEST itinerary.  Booking through Amex gave us amazing upgrades (to business class on our international flights….to a bigger room w/ a few….to free breakfasts that weren’t otherwise included, etc).   And it’s free (with your AMEX card), and they provide amazing service if anything goes wrong.  

     

    Good luck!

     

     

    Post # 16
    Member
    31 posts
    Newbee
    • Wedding: November 2011

    i love my TA.  It is not about being lazy…I mean if I am sick, I go to a Dr. not search the internet!  I want an expert and I had $5000 to spend.  I am not going to rely on just the web, I want to know what to expect and know that I have the best price, and someone to help me.  PLUS, I work for a high tech firm and I am paid rather well for my time, so I figure, the amount of time I would have spent researching and what I would pay myself–well let’s just say, it was WAY worth using a TA. AND my TA is the agent Martha Stewart says is the best! -bTW my honeymoon rocked.  Oh, and in case anyone else wants to know–I used travelbyvip.com. 

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