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How much extra is a travel agent worth vs booking on your own?

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Jul 15th, 2010, 11:17 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 86
Just to clarify what TC said, there is a difference between a travel agent (TA) and a tour operator (TO). Mostly, a TA works as an outbound agent and does not get much commission from the lodges, hotels and airlines they sell. Very often, they sell packaged tours and products from wholesale tour operators (bundled with flights), and they get about 10% commission from lodges and hotels. It is common practice for a TA to add a service charge or booking fee on top, to make sure they remain profitable as a business.

A TO can be very similar to an agent, and they can be a ground operator who owns their own vehicles. Go2Africa is not a ground operator, but as an agent they work directly with the lodges and hotels (they don't buy from a wholesale tour operator) and like someone else said they are based in South Africa and have expert local knowledge. Their income comes from the commission they earn from the lodges or hotels they sell. This could be 20% or 30% off the normal rate published on the lodge's website, and there is no need to mark up the rate beyond the normal rate, or add a booking fee. A TA gets much less commission or no commission, and they have to add a booking fee. A TO gets decent commission and normally they do not add any booking fees on top.

If you find (as you did with Mateya) that you can find a much cheaper rate than what they quote, then you did exactly the right thing: inform the agent and ask them to match the price you found. More often than not it may be a special the agent was not aware of, and they should be able to match the rate. I'm still surprised that the overall package is a few hundred dollars more than what you worked out going direct. Most TO's will try their best to come in slightly below what it would cost to go direct.
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Jul 16th, 2010, 05:49 AM
  #22
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Well, I sent the TA the link and it turns out that the resort was not aware of the low rates on LL, and will be pulling them off the site. However Go2Africa was able to get them to honor the price on an exception basis for me, which is fantastic news! So I'll definitely be moving forward with the entire reservation; I am incredibly pleased with how quickly they handled the situation. My hopes are that it reveals how quickly they would handle any other unexpected issues that may pop up down the road.
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Jul 16th, 2010, 05:57 AM
  #23
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Isn't Luxury Link a "consolidator"? A consolidator is yet another type of travel booking service. Different from a travel agent and different from a tour operator. A consolidator works with specific hotels, airlines, cruises, tours, etc. to fill space that might be left unsold. They forge relationships with specific providers. Think of them as an outlet for overstock. With a consolidator you will be able to book only their relationships. With a travel agent you can book anything.

It is to your advantage this time that LL has an opening in the lodge you want at the time you need. I would guess that your TA will be able to match the price. Although you are now asking them to do more and make less. I have to say, when I worked as a TA, those were the clients we loved the least. Prior to non-refundable airline tickets, I had clients that would call and make us change their ticket every time the airline lower the price by $5. We were paid 10% on the one ticket -- nothing additional for doing a reissue. It didn't take long for time invested to eat up the small commission on a $200 ticket.

From the Luxury Link web page:
".......find exceptional values. Through our Auction and Buy Now offers, ... often up to 65% off its retail value. We hand-select.... each property"
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Jul 16th, 2010, 06:14 AM
  #24
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Allina555, Looks like we were posting at the same time. I didn't see your latest until after I put my post up. Now you understand why the TA earns their money. You really can't always believe everything you find on the Internet. You're doing the right thing and hopefully feel better about the fee you are paying Go2Africa for their services. They are earning it.

"turns out that the resort was not aware of the low rates on LL, and will be pulling them off the site"

My guess is that LL might not have been able to come through with the advertised price in the end. It is a bit like bait and switch.
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Jul 16th, 2010, 08:44 AM
  #25
 
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My guess is that LL might not have been able to come through with the advertised price in the end. It is a bit like bait and switch.

While some posters have been lucky with a Luxury Link offer, I agree with TC, more often that is not the case and can be considered "bait & switch." Besides, with the TA, go2africa, can often get preferred rooms/tents and other bennies.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 01:25 AM
  #26
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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I know this post is old and I am not even sure why it came up but the answers were scary!
The traveler was spending over 13,000 dollars!
They had every right to ask for a break down of their trip cost.
And, at least look around to see what this exact trip was being sold for by other outfitters.

TA and outfitters should not complain because first they are making commission.
Second, it is their job!
Third, you are not alone. Car salespersons, realtors, contractors all work on quotes and hope for a sale.
These are competitive businesses.

That BS excuse about how Go2Africa wasn't making any money and people who asked for quotes were time wasters was ridiculous.

At the end it seemed that Go2Africa was able to soothe their customer's anxiety and got the sale.
That is how you do it. Customer service!

Sometimes TAs become super spoiled. If a room rate is 450 all over the internet. Then it is 450. The TA will get commission on that.
Just because the TA feels it is a hassle to book another hotel reservation it does not give them the right to charge clients 450+ unless they are clearly announcing a service fee which should be paid at the buyer's discretion.

In my opinion travelers deserve to be fully inform of their options out there just as much as the TAs.
Learn your competition and win them over with overall superior customer service.
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Mar 12th, 2012, 09:45 AM
  #27
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Hi travel2eat
What a fantastic post.
For the last 18 years we have been doing just that.
Serving the International community with our first and foremost customer service.

Yours on Safari
Mark
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