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suzycruiser
02-20-2006, 08:20 PM
Every travel agent I've used has been useless.
I booked my last cruise through a travel agent
only to find out they did not notify me of a port
change. I called the travel agent and they said
they emailed me the change. I never gave
them my email, I walked into the travel agency
and booked it live in person. I found out on
through others on the Celebrity cruise that the
port had been change six months earlier. I am
doing it myself from now on. Anyone else have
experiences like this?

Anita Dunham-Potter
02-20-2006, 09:21 PM
Originally posted by suzycruiser@Feb 20 2006, 09:20 PM
Every travel agent I've used has been useless.*
I booked my last cruise through a travel agent
only to find out they did not notify me of a port
change.* I called the travel agent and they said
they emailed me the change.* I never gave
them my email, I walked into the travel agency
and booked it live in person. I found out on
through others on the Celebrity cruise that the
port had been change six months earlier.* I am
doing it myself from now on.* Anyone else have
experiences like this?
20820


Suzycruiser,

Not ALL travel agents are "useless." You just haven't found the right travel agent for you. I wouldn't give up. I find recommendations from friends and family the best resource to finding a good agent. If you're spending a lot of money on a vacation don't just pick any travel agent; interview one. If you don't have a good feeling about the person move on until you find someone your "simpatico" with.

Anita

REDJIM
02-21-2006, 03:16 AM
Originally posted by suzycruiser@Feb 20 2006, 09:20 PM
Every travel agent I've used has been useless.*
I booked my last cruise through a travel agent
only to find out they did not notify me of a port
change.* I called the travel agent and they said
they emailed me the change.* I never gave
them my email, I walked into the travel agency
and booked it live in person. I found out on
through others on the Celebrity cruise that the
port had been change six months earlier.* I am
doing it myself from now on.* Anyone else have
experiences like this?
20820


Conde Nast Traveler has an exhaustive section each year on the most "expert" travel agent for almost any itinerary; Cruises, Europe, Asia, Central America, South America, ecology, Middle East, Down Under, Dude Ranches, Rail Trips, you name it, Conde Nast has identified the most effective TA for the year, in this rating.

Sorry for the outrageous plug.

nobody122
02-21-2006, 04:56 AM
While I highly dislike travel agents (no offense) for basic international trips that do not involve complicated VISA processes; I still use them for example when business takes me to the Middle East, Russia, certain African countries, ect. I agree with Ned that Conde Nast is great--it is more for the upscale or business traveller, so the fees I have had some people charge have been quite steep. I had an excellent experience with an agent I found through Conde Nast--he provided excellent support outside of working hours when I ran into problems getting into a country because I had an Israeli stamp in my passport.

tdew
02-21-2006, 06:10 AM
Travel agents like any other business person can be great or can be horrible.
It all depends on the individuals and on the personalities involved.
I've used agents for some trips, for parts of others and have booked some entirely for myself. Even in cases where I've booked the whole trip through an agent, I've still investigated on my own.
I can't imagine a time when I'd just leave the planning to someone else.

weblet
02-21-2006, 06:47 AM
First, welcome to Tripso! Hopefully this will be the start of a beautiful relationship!!

:lol:

I second Anita. Find someone who is happy with their agent and go in and interview. Be upfront about any bad experiences and good experiences you've had. As you talk you (and the agent) will get to know if this will work. Personally, I expect clients to take some responsibilty for themselves - I can't handhold every step, but some agents do. I've handed clients off to another agent when I feel I can't meet their needs and have picked up clients in return. It's all about what the expectations are.

And be sure to read John Frenaye's column on "Are you the client from Hell" for additional insight....!

Let us know how things go...

Anita Dunham-Potter
02-21-2006, 08:54 AM
Originally posted by weblet@Feb 21 2006, 07:47 AM
First, welcome to Tripso!* Hopefully this will be the start of a beautiful relationship!!

:lol:

I second Anita.* Find someone who is happy with their agent and go in and interview.* Be upfront about any bad experiences and good experiences you've had.* As you talk you (and the agent) will get to know if this will work.* Personally, I expect clients to take some responsibilty for themselves - I can't handhold every step, but some agents do.* I've handed clients off to another agent when I feel I can't meet their needs and have picked up clients in return.* It's all about what the expectations are.* *

And be sure to read John Frenaye's column on "Are you the client from Hell" for additional insight....!

Let us know how things go...
20832


Hi weblet,
I agree. However, there really are some bad travel agents out there that bring the good travel agents like you down. I've heard the stories from my t/a friends about their client's experiences with other travel agents. I can see how suzycruise feels the way she feels. I just hope she doesn't give up on T/As.

Anita

deangreenhoe
02-21-2006, 09:18 AM
While I highly dislike travel agents (no offense)
How could I possibly take offence to that? :lol:

Now kids, let's not make broad generalizations. The most important thing to realize is that your choice of career does not make you a good or bad anything. Any person who isn't properly motivated, educated and trained is going to reflect poorly on their profession. Especially in the service sector, a bad travel agent is going to make a bad insurance agent, bad accountant, bad sales person. (Bad Santa? :rolleyes: )

There's a large silent majority of people out there who won't make a move without their agent. And there's also a large contingent of agents who have such a sizeable established client list that they are not making themselves available to a random user. There's a certain synergy in an established agent/client relationship that a lot of people find worthwhile to cultivate. Personally, I work almost as an extension of my client's office and offer a lot of services you may have never considered. However, I'm not cheap. You get what you pay for. Nobody can afford to just give away extremely detailed service.

That said, there are a number of ways I'm able to recoup my fees for my clients by saving them money in other ways. It works out for everybody.

So I guess I would say that if you are shopping agents out there heavily marketing discounted products and your major criteria is getting the cheapest price by even a slim margin, you probably are going to experience discount service. It's a simple matter of economics. You wouldn't walk into the Wal-Mart salon for a $10.00 haircut and expect a glass of champagne and a follow up call to see how you like the do, would you?

But if you are considered a valuable established client of a decent agent, the rewards may surprise you. A lot of people wonder how you initiate that relationship. The answer is to be honest about your expectations and consider the service element part of the whole package. If that's not what you want, or not what you are getting, move on. But most importantly, if you seek the services of a great agent, go by referrals.

I won't even call a plumber just blindly out of the phone book. Spend your travel dollars just as wisely.

Anita Dunham-Potter
02-21-2006, 09:31 AM
Originally posted by deangreenhoe@Feb 21 2006, 10:18 AM
How could I possibly take offence to that?* :lol:

(Bad Santa?* :rolleyes:* )

20846


Visions of Billy Bob Thorton are dancing in my head now! :P

Things aren't always so simple. I think the problem these days is people don't put a lot of effort into educating themselves on what's good and what's bad. They only "get it" after they are unhappy with something.

Anita

deangreenhoe
02-21-2006, 09:37 AM
I see I'm duplicating good advice. Whoops!
I agree. However, there really are some bad travel agents out there that bring the good travel agents like you down.
That is very true. I've worked with some of them. I've fired a couple also. :P

Our business is just like anybody else's in any sector. I think the value of travel agents has only become a hot topic the past few years since the burden of paying for the convenience and service is switching from the supplier to the consumer. That wasn't by our choice but we're adapting.

I know it can be an unpopular stance in my industry (I could get shot for this :o ) but having the agency also getting paid directly by the customer rather than the supplier could be considered a positive development on the consumer side. Any agent worth his/her salt has always put the customer's needs first. Ask anyone who's been around for awhile and they will bear me out. However, not having an automatic commission payout regardless of service rendered does tend to weed out the bad seeds in the industry.

Most good agents work commissioned rather than on salary these days as well. If they can't establish and keep a loyal client following they don't earn. Don't look at that as a threat...keeping you happy repeatedly brings home the bacon. ;)

Anita Dunham-Potter
02-21-2006, 10:52 AM
Originally posted by deangreenhoe@Feb 21 2006, 10:37 AM
I see I'm duplicating good advice.* Whoops!

That is very true.* I've worked with some of them.* I've fired a couple also.* :P

Our business is just like anybody else's in any sector.* I think the value of travel agents has only become a hot topic the past few years since the burden of paying for the convenience and service is switching from the supplier to the consumer.* That wasn't by our choice but we're adapting.

I know it can be an unpopular stance in my industry (I could get shot for this* :o* ) but having the agency also getting paid directly by the customer rather than the supplier could be considered a positive development on the consumer side.* Any agent worth his/her salt has always put the customer's needs first.* Ask anyone who's been around for awhile and they will bear me out.* However, not having an automatic commission payout regardless of service rendered does tend to weed out the bad seeds in the industry.

Most good agents work commissioned rather than on salary these days as well.* If they can't establish and keep a loyal client following they don't earn.* Don't look at that as a threat...keeping you happy repeatedly brings home the bacon.* ;)
20851


Hi Deano!
Exactly! Get paid for the work you do. You're a professional providing a service to the client, it makes sense that they pay for your time. Ah, but again, its' all about that price point. Most agents fear they will scare away clients with a booking fee. I think so many agents sell themselves short. People will pay for your services.

Anita

deangreenhoe
02-21-2006, 11:26 AM
Most agents fear they will scare away clients with a booking fee.

Exactamundo. If a client walks because of a few dollars difference they are not your client. Mega agencies that don't charge even a nominal fee have to make up the difference in volume. High volume does not allow for personalized service. You simply can't have both.

I quote every product with a transaction fee and break it out for the customer right from the get-go. That is the defining moment when I know if I'm their agent or if they are simply wasting my time by uber-shopping.

What goes unsaid is that if it's a fully commissionable product or you are qualified as a regular, I'll quite often waive that fee by final payment. If nothing else, you'll get the ongoing service of me checking periodically that you have secured the best rate or value. Every sale is audited in an attempt to assure that you haven't paid more than somebody else for the same product. It's just what we do.

Suzycruiser was correct to complain that she wasn't notified of a port change if indeed the agency was notified. She didn't experience the value of using a traditional agent. I fired my own insurance agent for not notifiying me of important changes of coverage in one of my policies that cost me big bucks when I ended up paying for something I thought was covered. He said it was the duty of the provider to let me know about that (even though he was aware of it.) That statement right there eliminated my need to utilize his services as an intermediary between myself and the insurance carrier.

Any retailer or service provider should be held to the same standards.

Arkstfan
02-22-2006, 06:20 PM
Humm, do I want to pay an agent directly?

Or do I want "my" agent being paid (on varying scales) by the people trying to sell me travel.

Boy that's a toughie.

Would you believe that there are people shocked, shoCKED, SHOCKED, to learn that the real estate agent they asked to drive them around and show them houses "glossed" over issues with houses or neighborhoods, or suggested offer prices that were probably a bit high, or created an impression that there was another person hot after that same house, because it was to "their" agent's advantage for them to pay more to the seller. :lol:

If I'm dropping serious money on a big special vacation I don't want an agent tempted to cause me to part with more than I need to on sideshow issues.

weblet
02-22-2006, 07:51 PM
Many of us (you know, us agents ;) ) on this board have been around since, well, dirt. I will emphasize Dean's comment about putting the customer's needs first and say that when we book something for our clients we book it because it is the best thing in our judgement for the client. Not ultimately because of any commission involved. Sure, if given a choice I'd love to book the preferred supplier and make a few more bucks. But if I can save the client $$, or if the client prefers another supplier, so be it.

This is why it is so important to find and have a good relationship with an agent if you are looking to drop serious money. They will have your best interests at heart and go out of their way to leave you satisfied. And it doesn't take much to be an established client. I have a couple clients who travel back and forth to FL a couple times a year. That's it. But they call me every year at the same time and it's like greeting an old friend. I know what time of day they like to fly, whether they need assistance, what type of seats they like (used to be I knew what meals to request too :o )....

jfrenaye
02-22-2006, 08:27 PM
I have often said that I am not after "this" sale...it is not that important to me. The one I want is the "next" sale!

Eileen Sellers
02-24-2006, 08:53 AM
I found out on through others on the Celebrity cruise that the
port had been change six months earlier

So when did you first find out about the port change? When you picked up your tickets? It sounds like you didn't know about the port change until you were on your cruise, is this possbile?

jjjenny
02-24-2006, 09:36 AM
We have a group booked on the Ecstasy out of Galveston in May. They had a port change from Calica/Playa del Carmen to Progresso. I called everyone the week I got the itinerary change. Two couples cancelled, the others were okay with it. I'm sorry your travel agent did not notify you of the change, I sure as heck notify mine about changes. Most people don't like surprises like that and no one wants an angry client!

joyceandrews
04-25-2006, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by Arkstfan@Feb 22 2006, 07:20 PM
Humm, do I want to pay an agent directly?

Or do I want "my" agent being paid (on varying scales) by the people trying to sell me travel.

Boy that's a toughie.

Would you believe that there are people shocked, shoCKED, SHOCKED, to learn that the real estate agent they asked to drive them around and show them houses "glossed" over issues with houses or neighborhoods, or suggested offer prices that were probably a bit high, or created an impression that there was another person hot after that same house, because it was to "their" agent's advantage for them to pay more to the seller.* :lol:

If I'm dropping serious money on a big special vacation I don't want an agent tempted to cause me to part with more than I need to on sideshow issues.
21019


A good Travel Agent just would not do this. Now do we sometimes misjudge a client or what he would enjoy, hes probably.
But as John said, we don't just want the sale, we want the NEXT SALE. We want customers for life who travel 4X a year, yearly, every other year.

A house or car are different types of purchases.You don't buy a house or car every year, so it is not as important to KEEP the client as it is for a Travel Agent.
Repeats and Referrals are important in all sales jobs, but even more so for a Travel Agent, since they cannot actually see or experience the Product until well after the sale.

ARTraveler
04-25-2006, 03:42 PM
I have been accused (and correctly so!) of giving my clients too much information. If I know something (good or bad), I tell my clients and try to make them a better educated consumer of travel. I also ask my clients to let me know if they find things are different from what I've told them to expect, so I can be more knowledgeable!

zephyr17
04-25-2006, 07:55 PM
I had bad experience with agents years ago, before the rise of the Internet. One was on a ski vacation to Colorado by rail. The agent simply could not figure out a way to set up the transfers, and told me "Why don't you fly? It is easier." She kept repeating that every time I talked to her and she was ultimately unsuccessful. I ended up doing all the research and booking it myself.

Since then, I have used agents when traveling on business, and the company had agents that all corporate travel had to booked through. When not traveling on business, I do it myself. I have to say that for simple domestic, and even simple international (Canada/Mexico/western Europe) travel, I see no value added with agents in the age of the Internet for a reasonably sophisticated traveler.

I monitor my reservations at airline websites to check for flight changes and other things the airlines throw at you. I am very seldom surprised, and usually wind up in an aisle seat and a decent hotel at a reasonable price.

I can see the value of an agent in complex international travel, or something with very specialized requirements. A trip to Las Vegas or London, no.

With that said, I realized that I am totally ignorant when it comes to cruising, and found a local cruise specialist travel agent to book my first cruise whom I am very happy with. I will continue to use that agent for cruise bookings. But will continue to book independently for other travel. BTW, the agent in question only handles cruises.

There is a lesson in this. I travel quite a bit, and that initial experience with travel agents has meant a loss to agents of 25 years worth of commissions/fees. The agent not only has to add value, but a bad experience can mean the loss of a customer not only to that agent, but to any agent.