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Gigs
10-13-2005, 08:16 AM
What kind of discounts do travel industry professionals get when they travel? My fiancee is a catering sales manager at a Sheraton and she gets $49/night in any Starwood hotel and $69/night in any Starwood resort. How often do you take advantage of your discounts?

Annette
10-13-2005, 08:55 AM
The quick answer is: almost none.

It used to be that there were a fair number of agent discounts. Most of the agent discounts out there now are no better than AAA discounts, and in many cases there are public rates that are lower than the agent discounts.

Most of the discounts that remain are based on the agent's productivity. Also a number of suppliers have gone to a rewards/incentive program so that agents can earn free nights etc, but again that's entirely based on productivity.

Every time I see someone saying they're signing up with one of those card mills to get in on "those great travel agent discounts" I just shake my head. Shame on the companies selling those things for misleading people like that. Honestly 90% you can get better discounts with a AAA card.

jfrenaye
10-13-2005, 09:28 AM
The rates you see are an employee perk such as discounts when you work retail.

As far as industry perks, there are some, but they usually are on a standby basis and as Annette said it is often cheaper to buy it outright.

Now on occasion, if you have a rapport with a supplier, you can negotiate an upgrade or other amenity, but there are very few travel agent "rates" any longer.

There are FAM trips where you are flown to someplace to visit hotels and resorts for a ridiculous price--Jamaica for $50, but there is not any down time..you typically leave home at the crack of dawn, arrive mid to late morning and are shuttled to 12 or 15 resorts for a whirlwind tour--maybe get a free lunch or snack if you are lucky and brought back to the airport for your early evening departure. It is a tough day, but it does give you the first hand knowledge of destinations, airports, resorts, and area life that no website can match.

rm0902
10-13-2005, 10:54 AM
As a receptive tour operator I'm slightly more fortunate with regard to hotels. I can usually (not always) ask (and receive) comp rooms or reduced rates at hotels within the United States for myself or staff. Of course this applies during low season only.

mercwyn
10-13-2005, 12:04 PM
I find that the vendors I work with closely will sometimes offer me "deals" but most of my travel is purchased, just like any other consumer. I do take advantage of discounts offered by AAA or other affinity groups that I belong to because those are often better then what I can get at an industry rate.

The days of free travel for anyone who worked in a travel agency are pretty much a thing of the past.

travelhero
10-13-2005, 01:16 PM
Delepted per the original poster

Annette
10-13-2005, 01:39 PM
I've looked for those Marriott travel agent rates at least 20 times, and was only able to find availability once.

Last night I booked airfare for myself, on an airline that actually does have travel agent rates. But I didn't book the travel agent rate, because the seat sale price was lower. Last time I looked for a hotel and asked about the travel agent rate it was $15 more per night than the lowest consumer rate.

I just love getting special treatment.

Jason's Storm
10-13-2005, 10:27 PM
I work at Wal-mart, and I get discounts at Choice hotels, cendant hotels (days inn, etc.) Baymount, etc. I also learned I can get discounts at Six Flags, Hershey Park, Disney, and 10% through AA Vacations. They're not always better, but sometimes they lower the other rates as well.

~JS

REDJIM
10-14-2005, 03:12 AM
How about media travel writers?

Is the treatment they receive from destinations, any different from agent professionals because of their perceived influence with tens of thousands more prospective travelers?

Do travel writers fly free? Lodge free? Eat free?

Are they "mystery shoppers" or simply vacationing on the dime of the resort or cruise or location they spotlight in their next filing?

weblet
10-14-2005, 10:06 AM
Think we get great "deals?" Here's a classic example: Agents are very commonly offered a 75% discounted airfare by most airlines. Sounds great, eh? The caveat to this offer is that it is off of 'full coach fares.' To whit - Today, Northwest's Detroit to Los Angeles least expensive full coach fare (Y class) is $1112 each way. If lucky, they might offer the discount on a B class fare at $599 each way. The least expensive fare currently offered (if you meet all the advance purchase requirements etc) is $178 roundtrip. You do the math, and don't forget to add the taxes....

Be nice to your travel counselor, they're not in it for the $$ or discounts. Yes, occassionally we get a deal. But my last few flights and hotel stays have been on my dime or credit card points... And don't get me started on the attitude I get if I dare ask if a supplier offers a discounted rate for agents...

In spite of it all I do love what I do and have clients who appreciate me.

Smile!

Annette
10-14-2005, 11:42 AM
As far as I know the only people who fly for free are the airline employees, and sometimes their family (depending on the airline's rules). I haven't met anyone who gets to eat free, and as far as lodging the only comp lodging I've ever had is when I book my bus tours and they give me 1 comp room (for the bus driver) for every 20 paid rooms.

And I believe that recently some of the airlines have dropped the AD75's down to AD50's. But the caveat is that - as with many of the other suppliers - the airlines don't give those to just any agents, you have to have a fair amount of sales with them during the year before they'll approve the discount. As Weblet pointed out though, even with the "discount" the rates are still higher than other available rates.

When clients ask me about how I must get to travel for free or travel a lot etc, I make these analogies: No one says to a real estate agent or a car salesman "Wow, you must own a lot of houses" or "Do you get your cars for free?"

Woodsey Not Owl
10-17-2005, 10:15 AM
Agents get 70% off all airlines tickets. However, that is flying standby only. The super saver rates are normally 80% discounted anyway, and you get a confirmed seat.

If someone is telling you that agents get huge discounts off travel, they are lying to you for some reason. Better find out why before it costs you money!!!!!

David Wood

There is no free ride!!!!!

traveldivalisa
10-18-2005, 10:06 AM
Hello! I am a manager of a travel agency. For me personally, I use the discounts rarely.

The reason is that I usually go on what we call "Fam" (familiarization) trips. I usually take 3-4 trips per year.

These trips are arranged by a cruise line, tour company, destination or resort. We are on their schedule and we do site inspections of the resorts and ships, learn about the destination and experience what our clients will experience. This is what helps us find the vacation that is the best match for our clients. This is what sets a travel agent apart from an online travel agency. It's one thing to read a description, it's another to talk to someone who's experienced it.

When I have personal vacation time, to be truthful, I usually stay at home. Since travel is my business, I view my trips as business trips. Don't get me wrong, I DO enjoy traveling, but sometimes it's just great to be home. :)

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 10:10 AM
I don't think I've been able to make use of one of those perks in about 3 years! They are few and far between and of course hardly every available when you want/need them.

Joe Wagg
10-18-2005, 10:17 AM
I've owned and operated my own cruise only agency since 1991. In the "old days" we used to get great rates at the last minute but the problem was you couldn't get a decent airfare to join up with the trip or, your travelling companion couldn't get time off on such short notice.

Today, airlines are no problem (poor devils) but the offers are not as frequent. Best deals, of course, are the pre-inaugural sailings of new ships, but even those have diminished as new builds decline. Seminars at sea seem to be the best deals for agents. In exchange for some hours in the classroom at sea, you get to enjoy the product as a passenger.

travel
10-18-2005, 11:42 AM
I'm a travel coordinator for a non-profit, and although I do get offered discounts from people who want to do business with us, as well as FAM trips, I typically do not take advantage of them. Our policy has always been that we don't want to feel like we owe someone something, and if someone gave me a huge discount or a free trip, I am likely to feel that way, even if the trip was bad.

Now on the other hand, if I'm bringing a group of people on a trip I have chosen to offer, I do expect that my trip (or that of another host) will be heavily discounted or comp'd, and we do take advantage of every single one of those discounts/comps that are offered.

Amy
10-18-2005, 01:11 PM
As for those paid-for "fam" trips, how oten do you suppose travel writers disclose to their readers the whole trip was comped? And do you really think you're getting the same experience a regular traveler would? Isn't it a bit like touring a Communist country with a minder and pretending your whole trip wasn't staged?

jfrenaye
10-18-2005, 01:28 PM
THere are some travel writers that do indeed receive freebies. They are occasionally offered here, but it is the policy of Tripso to not accept them. I am sure Chris can share more stories than he cares to about "bad" columns and the ramifications of "not playing fair". But that is what makes us different.

We get our $$ from advertisers, and the places we go are on our own dime and typically are a necessity of other ventures--

Guest_Tommie Imbernino_*
10-18-2005, 01:43 PM
Hello. I take advantage of discounts when I travel, usually with hotels, cruises and tour operators I book a lot. And if I haven't stayed at a hotel and they do give me a discount - and I like it I always book it again and again. I started as an agent in the late 70's when the reps really wanted you to fly on their airline, stay at their hotel. I believe that is still the case but for agents that are productively selling travel.

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 02:03 PM
As for those paid-for "fam" trips, how oten do you suppose travel writers disclose to their readers the whole trip was comped? And do you really think you're getting the same experience a regular traveler would? Isn't it a bit like touring a Communist country with a minder and pretending your whole trip wasn't staged?

Hmmm...something Chris and I have "argued" about in the past.

I tend to take "FAMs" offered by a Tourist Board (the Jamaica Tourist Board or Barbados Tourism Authority for instance) or by a Tour Operator. These "FAMs" tend to offer the greatest range of accomodations for site inspections and are generally work trips - not pleasure trips. When with a Tourist Board, they will often try to include at least one "tourist activity" just so you can get a taste of it.

When I've gone with the Jamaica Tourist Board (at least a half dozen times now), we've don one "tourist activity" and seen in 3 days about a dozen resorts that range from 2 Star to 5+ Star. There is a client for just about every resort, but you have to have a very good understanding of what is actually there in order to sell it to the right client.

The two times I gone on Hawaii FAMs it's been for six days on the ground with the last day as free time (fly out that night). The other five days were full of site inspections - at least four a day and a "tourist activity" at least every other night/late afternoon.

It's no picnic.

Gigs
10-18-2005, 02:09 PM
So I take it there trips are fully-guided? Any chance of escaping? Why don't you just accidently miss the bus in the morning? I'm guessing these trips are attended by a large audience...

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 02:31 PM
If you accidentally "miss" the bus you are under a cloud. Some vendors will send you home that day - other vendors or Tourist Boards will never invite you to attend again. We need these trips - they are tools for our jobs. They are not a "reward" or a "vacation" - they are WORK.

Gigs
10-18-2005, 02:32 PM
Bummer. Is that how certain travel agents become "experts" for a destination? What qualifies a travel agent to be an "expert"?

Annette
10-18-2005, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by DCTravelAgent@Oct 18 2005, 02:31 PM
If you accidentally "miss" the bus you are under a cloud.* Some vendors will send you home that day - other vendors or Tourist Boards will never invite you to attend again.* We need these trips - they are tools for our jobs.* They are not a "reward" or a "vacation" - they are WORK.
11522


Exactly. I was at a presentation a few weeks ago where they were talking about an upcoming FAM and how there would ONLY be 6 hotel inspections per day. But consider that each hotel inspection can take a fair length of time, because you get trotted through the various types of rooms, and the restaurants/bar/lounges/discos/pools etc. Most of the FAMs I've seen have made it clear: Wear comfortable shoes, you will be doing a LOT of walking! As an agent on a FAM trip you're expected to be able to give a full report on it to your coworkers when you get back. And as others have said the entire reason for going on these things is so that you have first-hand knowledge of the properties so that you are better able to serve you clients.

I know some vendors have said that if you fail to meet the requirements of the FAM (the inspections or classes or whatever) then there are any number of things that can happen to you. Get can get you sent home - at your own expense. You can be charged for the full value of the trip, and probably a bit on top for wasting the vendor's time and denying another agent the seat.

It's not like they take a whole planeload of people each time and you're easily lost in the crowd. Many times these things have a limited availability and they only take a small number - 20-30 seems to be common around here, but I've heard of FAMs with a cap of 8 before. Belive me if you're not there one day, it's noticed.

jfrenaye
10-18-2005, 02:46 PM
A destination expert can earn their credentials in any number of ways. Personally I am an Israel Specialist, Universal Studios, London, and Hong Kong.

The credentials are sponsored by the tourism boards for the most part and are pretty varied as far as what is required. The Israel Specialist was a four hour classroom presentation. The Hong Kong specialist was 4 hours of classroom, proof that we sent 10 people to Hong Kong in a year, and one trip for me. There is another level of specialist for Hong Kong that requires a trip a year. Obviously these trips are somewhat subsidised--bargain hotel , free excursions, maybe a few meals, but the airfare typically is on your own.

THe CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) designation from The Travel Institute is a very high level certification--akin to the MBA in business. As are the CLIA designations ACC and MCC and the recent ECC (Associate, Master, and Expert Cruise COunselors) These folks are the cream of the crop.

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 02:49 PM
oops!

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 02:50 PM
The only thing I actually find annoying is the hotelier who wants to show you everything!!! Like how many times am I going to be looking for the Prime Minister's Suite?! Show me a standard, dlx, and suite. Then show me the public areas, the beach, the pool, the restaurants, and perhaps the water sports set-up and the kids' program, offer me a cold drink and I'm ready to go to the next property. These places can be huge!! Comfortable shoes and a digital camera are a must! I also like to have the property brochure in my hands so I can take notes on it.

jfrenaye
10-18-2005, 02:51 PM
And Sandals...this is the waterview luxury butler suite which was last month known as the veranda concierge oceanview luxe room, which will be changing to the grande luxe honeymoon veranda oceanfront opulence suite next month

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 02:53 PM
And Sandals...this is the waterview luxury butler suite which was last month known as the veranda concierge oceanview luxe room, which will be changing to the grande luxe honeymoon veranda oceanfront opulence suite next month

:D :lol: :D :lol:

They at least don't run you through every category anymore!

jfrenaye
10-18-2005, 03:06 PM
Yeah they can't keep up with them either. It would be so much easier. "Dis be the cheap room mon, dis cost you more, and dis one is way expensive...ganja?"

DCTravelAgent
10-18-2005, 03:08 PM
I always beg the Sandals Reps - could someone just ask Butch not to change the room category names for just one 12 month period? Please? It's just maddening!

joyceandrews
10-18-2005, 03:20 PM
I am with you on the Sandals Room Categories. If I am an "expert" and I can't figure them out how can anyone? The changing of names of categories and the number of categories is Maddening.

Kairho
10-18-2005, 03:20 PM
I just love it when they take you out back for a private tour of the recycling and sewage processing plant. Whoopie!

ARTraveler
10-18-2005, 04:21 PM
I had a fam last month with a vendor to Puerto Morales/Playa del Carmen. There were only about 15 of us, so you missed anyone pretty quick. The strangest part - we get to one resort after going past tons of new construction (not reconstruction from hurricanes) and pull up to a small building with lots of golf carts lined up in the front. I had not sold this property before and was thinking "...what is this?" and we were told to get a partner and get in a cart. Next thing - we are driving ourselves (with a guide in the first cart) over this golf course! Never mind we couldn't hear a thing when the carts stopped and the guide got out to explain what we were seeing.

We finally did see the resort. Not that impressed.

AB

REDJIM
10-19-2005, 03:43 AM
"THere are some travel writers that do indeed receive freebies. They are occasionally offered here, but it is the policy of Tripso to not accept them. I am sure Chris can share more stories than he cares to about "bad" columns and the ramifications of "not playing fair". But that is what makes us different.

We get our $$ from advertisers, and the places we go are on our own dime and typically are a necessity of other ventures-- "

John, I wasn't thinking of Tripso in my question. I get travel sections in the daily newspapers I read; can't quite figger out why some destinations are featured, others ignored. How many of us want to spend a week at a Dude Ranch in Wyoming? Was that trip comped for the writer? Get my drift?

jack gaffney
10-19-2005, 05:43 AM
NEVER. I do try for a travel agent rate at hotels, but when I have booked it, I have always gotten the worst room in the house, and then feel that I shouldn't complain because I got such a deep discount. Besides, alot of the time the difference between the agent rate and the promo rate is not that great.

I NEVER try to use an agent rate with the airlines. With the way they're dropping now-a-days, you never know if you'll be able to get back and besides the flights are full and I just can't take a chance.

On the flip side though, I ALWAYS use the agent rate when renting a car.

jfrenaye
10-19-2005, 07:44 AM
RedJim-

I understood...just wanted to be clear. As for the Dude Ranch in Wyoming, I imagine it was comped--especially if it was a large paper with a big distribution.

But in defense there---family travel and intergenerational travel is a huge and growing market. One needs to find a happy mix for everyone from granny all the way down to the new born and the Dude Ranches certainly fit the bill. We have sold many of these. They are especially attractive to the affluent market since it is something unique and different--not a cruise or a trip to Disney.

Annette
10-19-2005, 08:27 AM
I believe that generally when you see things like that featured in the papers that the vendors have approached the media looking for people to write about their destinations, so then yes the writer is probably "comped" his stay. Although probably not meals, unless they're included in a typical package. For the vendor that's advertising money well spent. Well, hopefully well spent.

I would think that usually, depending on the type of trip it is, what the writer experiences is generally what one could expect to experience. If you're one person on a charter plane full with 120 other people, or at a resort with 2,000 other people, chances are the crew and staff aren't going to really care who you are.

However I would have to wonder if the writer who accepts a freebie trip would be inclined to give a somewhat more biased review of the property and events. I mean I've had freebie tickets for shows in Vegas (not from being a travel agent) and I usually end up feeling that the show was worth it for the cost, but may not have been if I'd had to pay for it myself. So would the travel writer, having a wonderful time at the dude ranch, be having quite as wonderful a time if he'd had to shell out the money for his trip? Who knows.

And then there's always the chance that if you write too harsh a review on a property, not only will they not invite you back again but others might not either. I think that's why you see complaints couched in softer terms and explanations. Like... the service was a little on the slow side, however given the quality of the meals received the delay is more than acceptable... or some such thing.

Kairho
10-19-2005, 08:43 AM
Originally posted by REDJIM@Oct 19 2005, 04:43 AM
How many of us want to spend a week at a Dude Ranch in Wyoming? 11571

If this is a poll, put me down for "YES!"

Actually I was there last year and brought friends. No special consideration other than the usual and customary agent commission. However, when I rebooked myself for 2006 (it's an awesome place!) I declined the commission.

mercwyn
10-19-2005, 02:16 PM
Originally posted by Gigs@Oct 18 2005, 12:09 PM
So I take it there trips are fully-guided? Any chance of escaping? Why don't you just accidently miss the bus in the morning? I'm guessing these trips are attended by a large audience...
11517



Several years ago when I was a training manager for a very large agency we had an employee who went on a fam trip that the agency had paid for. On the 2nd day of the fam trip she decided that she didn't want to go to any of the training that she was supposed to attend. After she didn't show up to the afternoon session I received a phone call from our sales rep who was on the fam who informed me that this agent wasn't attending training and wasn't ill. I was then told that this agent would be put ashore at the next port of call and it was up to the agency to arrange her transportation home. The rep went on to point out that this was a training fam trip, not a vacation and that if our agency ever sent another agent who pulled this we would not be invited to attend any other function offered by this vendor.

Needless to say when this agent returned to the office she was written up and was told to write a letter of apology to the vendor and the sales rep. Lastly she had to repay the company the cost of the trip. When she refused to do any of these things, she was terminated.

The vendors are very aware who is attending and they expect the agents to be alert and interested. These aren't vacations, these are working trips.

NW CTC
10-19-2005, 07:28 PM
Gigs asked "Is that how certain travel agents become "experts" for a destination? What qualifies a travel agent to be an "expert"?"

In addition to the CTC designation that John mentioned there are Destination Specialist and Lifestyle Specialist courses offered through The Travel Institute. These are generally more demanding than those offered through tourist boards. Passing the 2 hr. proctored exam is required to earn the "DS" designation.

Some of said courses are offered in conjunction with tourist boards; successful passage leads to a study trip and future workshops, etc. Again, these are study trips, not vacations, and sometimes passage of another exam on return is expected or perhaps the preparation of a paper.

Woodsey Not Owl
10-20-2005, 01:23 PM
There are no experts in travel!!!!! If there were, we would not be in this mess!!!!!!

David

ozzy
10-20-2005, 02:35 PM
Originally posted by DCTravelAgent@Oct 18 2005, 02:50 PM
The only thing I actually find annoying is the hotelier who wants to show you everything!!!* Like how many times am I going to be looking for the Prime Minister's Suite?!* 11530


My favorite is when they tell you that "you're now going to go see the penthouse suite" (ohhh ahhh). And then "Oh yea, did we mention that we really don't want to clog up the elevators for our regular guests with all you travel agents, so we'll be taking the stairs up 12 flights." (ohhhhh nooooooo). :D

I've literally seen every hotel on Palm Beach in Aruba from top to bottom (slightly unnecessary if you ask me), but couldn't tell you what one of the elevators looked like. ;)