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Island))Jacks
03-27-2005, 07:34 PM
I am a travel agency owner (working this crazy business for almost 20 years). There is always some kind of "deal" to every destination imaginable at any time. As soon as one "special" ends, another one takes it's place. The real issue here is VALUE. Usually the only difference between a CHEAP trip and a GREAT Vacation is only as liitle as $50-100 more per person. Your personal travel agent (yes, those real live people living and working in YOUR community) can help you find that great vacation and keep within your budget. Our agents do it every day! People are amazed that we can find better "deals" than they can in a fraction of the time. Your local travel agent has the tools and the expertise to do the job right. Now, open your phone book and call a real person who actually CARES that you have a good trip!

jfrenaye
03-27-2005, 07:40 PM
I agree totally. I guarantee that no one ever buys the cheapest car on the lot. They get the car that best meets their needs. Why is it with travel that it has become a commodity, and not an experience?



I am speaking at an ASTA-AAFTEC Conference on Fraud in Washington on Tuesday and a key component of my message will be to know who you are dealing with.



Quite honestly, the flesh and bones travel agents are NOT the cheapest out there, but when you are dealing with a sizeable investment for an experience, is cheap REALLY what you are after?

Janer
04-13-2005, 05:35 AM
Originally posted by Island))Jacks
I am a travel agency owner (working this crazy business for almost 20 years). *There is always some kind of \"deal\" to every destination imaginable at any time. *As soon as one \"special\" ends, another one takes it's place. *The real issue here is VALUE. *Usually the only difference between a CHEAP trip and a GREAT Vacation is only as liitle as $50-100 more per person. *Your personal travel agent (yes, those real live people living and working in YOUR community) can help you find that great vacation and keep within your budget. *Our agents do it every day! * People are amazed that we can find better \"deals\" than they can in a fraction of the time. *Your local travel agent has the tools and the expertise to do the job right. *Now, open your phone book and call a real person who actually CARES that you have a good trip!



In choosing/booking a soft adventure tour, what are excellent questions to ask?



*Is the company the actual local tour operator/outfiter or just a booking agent?

*What exactly is included in the trip price and is air fare included?

*How long has the company been in business and how long have they operated tours in this particular area?

*Does the local tour operator/outfitter have all the necessary government permits required to operate tours in their particular area?

*All of the above

jfrenaye
04-13-2005, 07:09 AM
Jane--

I would say that all of your questions are legitimate for sure and will go a long way to insuring your experience.



I may have misread you, but I would not necessarily look to book with a local tour operator. These guys can and do come and go very often as there is little regulation. A booking agent (travel agent) is probably a better choice because they hopefully have a track record with the tour operators and have satisfied clients that can back up the claim and personal experience. In the absense of that, look to see if the operator is a member of the USTOA.



You shuold always know the bottom line including taxes and fees and what it includes so there are no surprises at the end of the day. Nothing worse than going home with $10 in your pocket and finding out there is a cash $25 departure tax to be paid at the airport.



Check out the booking agent/travel agent as well as the tour operator and be sure you feel comfortable with both. A relationship goes a long way and if you like your agent, it is a good thing. You must also feel comfortable with the tour operator and the offering. Remember a travel agent is building a relationship with you and you may be doing soft-adventure today, cruising tomorrow, or backpacking in China the following day. Chances are that once you do a soft-adventure tour, you are probably not going to be going back, so there is no incentive (per se) for the tour operator to build that relationship directly .



Hope this helps!

kauai744
04-17-2005, 02:41 AM
barf. what unabashed commercialism. i haven't used a travel agent in 10 years and wouldn't even consider it. i get much better results on my own, and get exactly the results i want. i've trained far to many a travel agent. thanks anyway.

Guest
04-18-2005, 01:17 PM
Originally posted by kauai744
barf. *what unabashed commercialism. *i haven't used a travel agent in 10 years and wouldn't even consider it. *i get much better results on my own, and get exactly the results i want. *i've trained far to many a travel agent. *thanks anyway.



I'm sure they all miss you. Everyone loves a know-it-all.

Anonymous
04-22-2005, 02:30 AM
John,



I would say that all of your questions are legitimate for sure and will go a long way to insurnig your experience.



Thank you very much for the explanations!!!



Jane R.

The Savvy Traveler Quiz Master (http://www.infohub.com/scripts/quiz_cgi/)

vickiburton
05-13-2005, 07:38 PM
I can go to the beach in FL by myself, but, if I'm leaving the country, give me a travel agent. If I'm booking a cruise, give me a travel agent. They've still got a place, although they do have to work harder than before internet.

IslandJacks
06-04-2005, 08:14 PM
Vicki, Thank you for the vote of confidence for travel agents. Did you know that we have access to bulk rates for airfare and hotels in popular tourist destinations? Maybe even the beach you like to visit. We also belong to several travel entities that allows us to book hotels at preferred rates. I had happy clients this year that went to the Daytona 500 race. Even BAD hotels 50 miles away were $150-200 per night. With our preferred rate we were able to get them a decent hotel (newer Holiday Inn) for only $99 per night. Other people staying in the same hotel were paying $245 per night. I only made about $50 off this 5 night booking, but my client's happiness was priceless.

DCTravelAgent
06-07-2005, 12:30 PM
Kauai - how do you know what you're missing out on?



And just a reminder to everyone else - a "deal" is not a deal if you are not actually getting good value for what you've spent. That's what you need a good Travel Agent for. Here's an example, would you take a later flight to save $100 per person on your air fare to your Caribbean All-inclusive resort? I'm sure many people, possibly even Kauai, would say "you bet"! But what are you paying per person per night for the All-inclusive? Are you getting good value by getting there at 6pm rather than 1pm? What activities/food/drink have you missed out on to save that big $100? A good Travel Agent will point this out to you, but on your own, you probably wouldn't think of it - now you will though.



Just the simplest example I can come up with at the moment.



AND:



I may have misread you, but I would not necessarily look to book with a local tour operator. These guys can and do come and go very often as there is little regulation. A booking agent (travel agent) is probably a better choice because they hopefully have a track record with the tour operators and have satisfied clients that can back up the claim and personal experience. In the absense of that, look to see if the operator is a member of the USTOA.



Totally agree with that - if you get "screwed" by an "Agency" in the other country, you must deal with that country's laws - not US. Funny, I was just reading the Ombudsman column in Conde and the second letter is all about some poor couple who paid over $15k to an "Agency" in China that actually went out of business.

NW CTC
06-17-2005, 06:44 PM
I was just reading the Ombudsman column in Conde and the second letter is all about some poor couple who paid over $15k to an \"Agency\" in China that actually went out of business.



Good point, DC. I often wonder what percentage of those submitting their issues to the Ombusdman booked on their own and what the outcome might have been with an agent.



Ditto when I read some of the horrible reviews of great hotels that I know first hand. It would be helpful to know what room category was booked, how much was paid and even whether it's an experienced traveler writing.

ARTraveler
07-12-2005, 01:02 PM
All travelers who are "agency shopping" should do a bit of homework. Ask questions - who are they, how long have they been in business. Ask for direct phone numbers instead of toll-free ones - and call them. Are they a member of ASTA, CLIA, or another affiliation. Ask how long your agent has been in the business, what certifications do they have. Have they been where you want to go? Have they sent clients there before??

If nothing else - call the Better Business Bureau, your state's attorney general or Chamber of Commerce. When all else fails - if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

I'm not trying to be cynical here, but your vacation is an investment, regardless of how much or how little you spend. You want to get the most bang for your buck, so do some planning when it comes to who you want to spend your money with!