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Old 04-18-2007, 12:35 AM   #21
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The article is very informative but I have to say that all online bookings are bad. I tried reserving a room online in the accommodations in Marrakech and I had a good experience. It was fast, easy, and I got the room that I wanted. I think that really depends on the company that you are dealing with.
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Old 04-18-2007, 05:45 AM   #22
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The article is very informative but I have to say that all online bookings are bad.
I think you meant to say that NOT all online bookings are bad??
I've had both good and not so good experiences, but I usually book directly with the chain or individual property.
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Old 04-18-2007, 06:01 AM   #23
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I think you have a typo in your post, and meant all online booking sites aren't bad.

I buy online all the time. I book plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and tickets for events and specific tours (Disney, parks, individual places).

I stay away from the booking agencies such as Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, etc. I book direct. I have found that the booking agencies don't stand behind their product (reservations) far too often. They are not travel agents.

I've said it many times, when my trip is a simple jaunt somewhere in the US, such as to visit our kids in LA, I book everything (plane, hotel (we like our privacy), rental car) direct (US Air, Hilton Honors, Hertz) myself. If it's more complicated, I use a travel agent; the genuine article, not a booking agency. If I run into a problem with a trip booked by my travel agent, I know the problem won't be batted around by anonymous people with whom I've never had personal contact, and by people who have no long term vested interest in my well being, like too oftern happens at the online booking agencies. My travel agent has even helped me with reservations that ran afoul, which I made myself. Such as rebooking during a snowstorm earlier this year.

I have upcoming trips to Dallas, LA, Boston, Chicago and Miami. I made those reservations myself for planes, trains, hotels, rental cars, etc. I also have upcoming trips to Europe, South America and Hawaii. My travel agent took care of all those bookings. South America is a cruise. My agent got a better stateroom than was available online, in fact he got me on a cruise date I wanted, which online said the ship was fully booked and the cruise unavailable. He found a pair of business class tickets to Quito, Ecuador for $600 a piece lower than anything I found, at a booking agency (I checked Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets and Orbitz) or direct. I can't tell you how valuable a good travel agent can be.

I do a lot of research before booking a trip, as does my wife. We then go to the travel agent and pick his brain and experience. Then armed with all that data, we make the travel choices together, and he makes the best reservations which work for me and my wife.

There's no substitute for good research on the part of the traveler when deciding on a vacation, and there's no substitute for a good travel agent to help you with a complicated sojourn. I can assure you that even the best of the online agencies can't hold a candle to a top notch travel agent.

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The article is very informative but I have to say that all online bookings are bad. I tried reserving a room online in the accommodations in Marrakech and I had a good experience. It was fast, easy, and I got the room that I wanted. I think that really depends on the company that you are dealing with.
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:12 AM   #24
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Your check is in the mail, Ned.

Seriously, thank you for your support of our industry. Traditional travel agents like to think we still have a few advantages over the internet booking engines. Possession of a human brain that's capable of making educated decisions and solving problems on behalf of our customers would be the first one that comes to mind.
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Old 04-18-2007, 07:41 AM   #25
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Exactly. But it's not only the brain. It's the experience at booking and the travel experience. I wonder how many people in the Orbitz call-in center in Pakistan have any travel experience or booking experience beyond that taught them in a low-level 3 hour course.

I can't tell you how many times my TA has gotten me out of trouble by his suggestions before we even started booking the trip. Try to get that from Expedia or Priceline.

Now about that check...

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Your check is in the mail, Ned.

Seriously, thank you for your support of our industry. Traditional travel agents like to think we still have a few advantages over the internet booking engines. Possession of a human brain that's capable of making educated decisions and solving problems on behalf of our customers would be the first one that comes to mind.
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:47 AM   #26
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There are several other advantages of booking with a real travel agent which have not been mentioned here, especially one which has a personal relationship with a property.

1. Room availability when otherwise sold out. For various reasons.....
2. Better chance at an upgrade.
3. Much lower chance of being walked, often zero.
4. Generally better service from staff, often by name.
5. "Secret" communications so staff knows details about the passenger and can use appropriately. Imagine being greeted at reception with "sorry about your problems with Paris, may we move you to an oceanview room?"
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:33 AM   #27
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I was fascinated by the article's discussion of the large fear of online credit card information theft. The same people that fear online theft of credit card information, apparently have no compunction about picking up the phone and orally giving a stranger their credit card information, including security code.
Excellent point, Ned. About 10 years ago, this issue was addressed in a Dilbert cartoon strip. Dilbert had dinner with his then-girlfriend Liz at a restaurant. As he handed the waitress his credit card, he explained to Liz how he didn't trust using the credit card over the Internet. When the waitress returned with the card and receipt, she was wearing a mink coat. Dilbert was oblivious to her new "uniform." Ridiculous? Of course! But Scott Adams used the exaggeration to make a good point.

We are very trusting when we hand a credit card to waitstaff, that they won't copy the card number or run an additional charge on a separate, unseen receipt. I wonder how many instances of credit card fraud are a result of some unscrupulous waitstaff? Perhaps more often than the industry cares to admit.

Although the check-digit feature helps reduce the possibility of card fraud (especially now that so many websites require you to enter the check digits in addition to the card number), handing over the card to someone pretty much nullifies that security feature. That involves a level of trust that someone won't try to copy it along with the card number.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:57 AM   #28
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A friend of mine has had his credit card compromised 5 times in the last year, each time at a restaurant. In talking with Visa, he was told that almost 35% of all credit card fraud takes place in restaurants in which you hand your card to a waiter/waitress, and then, of course, don't see it for several minutes. Fifty percent of all credit card fraud, according to this person at Visa is from giving your credit card number over the phone to both reputable and fly-by-night companies, or phishing companies. The other 15% is covered by all the other ways that credit card fraud can take place.

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Excellent point, Ned. About 10 years ago, this issue was addressed in a Dilbert cartoon strip. Dilbert had dinner with his then-girlfriend Liz at a restaurant. As he handed the waitress his credit card, he explained to Liz how he didn't trust using the credit card over the Internet. When the waitress returned with the card and receipt, she was wearing a mink coat. Dilbert was oblivious to her new "uniform." Ridiculous? Of course! But Scott Adams used the exaggeration to make a good point.

We are very trusting when we hand a credit card to waitstaff, that they won't copy the card number or run an additional charge on a separate, unseen receipt. I wonder how many instances of credit card fraud are a result of some unscrupulous waitstaff? Perhaps more often than the industry cares to admit.

Although the check-digit feature helps reduce the possibility of card fraud (especially now that so many websites require you to enter the check digits in addition to the card number), handing over the card to someone pretty much nullifies that security feature. That involves a level of trust that someone won't try to copy it along with the card number.
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:20 PM   #29
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Ouch. If my card was compromised that many times at a restaurant, I'd start paying cash....

Restaurants are starting to get on the ball. Legal Sea Foods is starting to introduce wireless POS devices that are brought to the table for the customer to swipe themselves.
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Old 04-18-2007, 01:42 PM   #30
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That's a great idea.

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Ouch. If my card was compromised that many times at a restaurant, I'd start paying cash....

Restaurants are starting to get on the ball. Legal Sea Foods is starting to introduce wireless POS devices that are brought to the table for the customer to swipe themselves.
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