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-   -   WHY DON'T YOU BOOK WITH A TRAVEL AGENT (https://www.fodors.com/community/air-travel/why-dont-you-book-with-a-travel-agent-210816/)

Penny Nov 28th, 2001 12:36 PM

WHY DON'T YOU BOOK WITH A TRAVEL AGENT
 
I have been reading post after post here, and I am befuddled why in the world you people are not booking with travel agents. You say because we can not offer the lower fares you find on the net. Well don't blame us for it, that is the airlines trying to monopolize the air transportation industry. We have been screaming about it for ever now. But until people like you get involved, we will continue to beat ourself's against brick walls...over 99% of the problem's I have read about here in this forum could have been eliminated had you just used a travel agent. When will you wise up? Is it because we charge service fee's. You bet we do, would you work for free? Didn't think so. Do you think we get to keep the $300.00 you pay us for a ticket...your very wrong, we would make exactly $14.00 off a ticket at that price, the rest goes right to the a/l's. And we have overhead costs to maintain, and $14.00 is a drop in the bucket. We would have to run, 100's of tickets a month at that ratio. So don't blame us, we are bound by anti-trust laws, but we are not privy to them. Remember without a travel agent you are on your own.

Yechhh Nov 28th, 2001 07:51 PM

I don't book with a travel agent because most of them that I have worked with are morans. I can screw up my own travel arrangements, thank you very much. And - most of the time I don't! I have a much better track record than the travel agents I've used over the years.

MJ Nov 29th, 2001 03:17 AM

Hey! Yechhh, It sounds like you are one of those that calls around asking every travel agent "What's your price for ....?" Guess what? Travel agents have NOTHING to do with the price of your trip. So if you're choosing your agents that way, you're sure to get screwed sooner or later! Give it another try and before you start talking price, ask the agent how long they've been in the industry, if they've been to the destination that you are going to and how recently. Find one that realizes those are important questions and answers them politely. I would choose one with at least 5 years (preferably 10) who has been to your destination more than once (preferably specializes in it) and has been there in the last 2-3 years. Then choose that agent to book your trip and I bet you'll see much better results.

Jim Rosenberg Nov 29th, 2001 04:56 AM

Travel agents provide a valuable service for many travelers and I highly recommend them. The reason I don't use one myself -- except in very rare instances -- is because I would be paying for a service that I don't need. In addition, there have been powerful incentives built into the system over the past several years to encourage those who can handle things themselves. The internet has put new tools into the hands of consumers that formerly were only in the hands of agents. To the extent that a traveler is competent to use these tools, there is really no reason to slow down the process and pay additional charges to use an agent; it's that simple. Having said that, it is important for people to know exactly what they are doing in order to effectively use these tools and be willing to take complete responsibility for their actions. Those who are not comfortable or don't want to pay attention to the rules and consequences of their choices should definitely use an agent. I've learned a ton about the travel industry over the past five years and much of that has been from agents. But I can't really recommend my own approach to those who haven't put in the time to learn what I've learned and I certainly don't want to play the role of "travel agent" for others. I don't want the responsibility and there is only downside to me for getting involved in the travel arrangements of others. Travel agents earn their money, but it is not my job to see that they are compensated by me, personally.

Rita Nov 29th, 2001 06:43 AM

Penny,<BR><BR>Your post is quite boring. You seem to be a travel agent who is complaining because we refuse to pay for your commission. In my industry we call a commission a kick-back. <BR><BR>The problem with the travel industry is that your pay structure is based on commission rather than on the value of your service. If you had a family of ten wanting to travel on a cruise and you received a 15% commission on Royal Carribean and 12% on Carnival which would you propose -- they are basically offering the same experience? This whole senario leaves us suspect as to your motives. <BR><BR>Travel agents have been their own worst enemy in this "battle for commission". It has turned you into an industry of generalists rather than an industry who charges for their service. When travel agents become specialized centers of knowledge selling their expertise in a "region" rather than generalists pushing a "packaged product" -- I will be glad to pay an hourly rate for this service.<BR><BR>Until then I will continue to research and surf for "mom and pop" destinations of this world and you can continue to push the Carnivals and the Marriotts of this world.

Melissa Nov 29th, 2001 11:52 AM

My question is, do you pay to even walk in the door of a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist? I think you do. A travel agent will charge a minimum fee for thier services. Usually we only charge a fee on air only packages. <BR><BR>I resent that you think I recommend a vacation package based on the amount of revenue our agency will take in. That is not so. If I recommened a clearly Royal Caribbean type passenger on Carnival just because I would make more money, that would only cause me more problems in the future, with unhappy customers spreading bad word of mouth recommendations about my agency. I want all my clients to be happy and become repeat clients, as opposed to one time shoppers, because bringing new clients in cost more in advertising then having happy repeat customers, who usually bring friends next time. <BR>if you had a bad experience with a travel agent, they were probibly the ones looking for a good one time sale, but if you ask around, you will find agents that realize the benifits of repeat clients, and who don't care that one line brings in 10% while others bring in 15%, because what matters to a good agent is a happy client.

Laura Nov 29th, 2001 12:57 PM

I really don't understand the hostility toward travel agents on this website. I am a cruise specialist and take a great deal of pride in the service I provide my clients. While it's true commissions are higher with somes lines than others, I put my clients needs and expectations above my own. The idea is to build up repeat business. People also need to be realistic in their expectations of us though. While I have cruised on several(12)ships and cruiselines(5), I have not been on every ship, seen every cabin, and been to every destination available. We can't travel all the time! If you were unable to find a deck chair at noon during a day at sea, or the weather was bad, that really isn't my fault! I spent almost 1 hour on the phone yesterday getting yelled at by a client who lost his cell phone on his cruise and blamed me for it because it was never turned in by anyone! He thinks I should replace it! Most of my clients are wonderful. But it seems like there are alot of people that fail to realize we do not control every situation that may arise on their vacations. If I did something wrong, then I'll take the blame. If something's out of my control, I don't need the verbal abuse. People think this job is all fun and games, but it can be very stressful. If people want to make their own travel arrangements that's their perogative. I don't see the need to belittle people who do use TA's though.

Rita Nov 29th, 2001 01:55 PM

With the dearth of information flooding the internet anyone who spends enough time searching can find enough information to make an educated decision regarding travel. This in essence negates any information you would receive from a travel agent.<BR><BR>It has been my experience that when I go into an agency and inquire about a hotel in Italy (for example) the agent pull out a thick book with reams of listings for hotels in Italy. Of coarse I am horrified becase the agent has most likely never stayed in any of the hotels and knows squat about what they are like. It is like finding a needle in a haystack. In this case what I am upset about is paying a commission to someone who is using a very generalist tool to book my vacation.<BR><BR>Now, if i went into a travel agency and the agent said, "Italy, wonderful I was there last month and found a great little hotel in Fiesole with a view of orchards and the Duomo in the distance . . . and how about a cooking class with an italian chef?" then I wouldn't mind paying a professional fee. What I would like is for an agent to base their fee on how long my vacation is for (say $500 per week) and then go to work preparing me a wonderful, unique vacation that is just what I need. Hey, I'll pay for intellectual property just point me the way!<BR><BR>Booking a Caribbean cruise or a week at Sandles is something I can do very easily over the internet.

MJ Nov 29th, 2001 02:18 PM

Oh my Rita! You beginning to get it! Yes! pay attention to what your agent knows! It makes all the difference. But you'd be surprised how many choices you have with Caribbean cruises or Sandals resorts- I wouldn't want to make that choice by myself unless I'd personally been to most of them and on all the different cruise lines. Most good travel specialists have; have you?

marilyn Nov 29th, 2001 02:19 PM

Rita, for goodness sake look up what "dearth" means before using it in a sentence! Your post actually makes the point very well about what a good travel agent can do for you, but I think you are trying to say that such agents do not exist. That is not, in fact, the case, but I'm sorry that you have never had the benefit of a really good agent.<BR><BR>That said, I don't often use an agent because for me, rooting out information and making the arrangements are part of the fun. When I don't have time, I would consider an agent, or if I WERE going to do something like take a cruise or book a week at Sandals, then, too, an agent would be useful because it would give you leverage in case something went wrong.

rita Nov 29th, 2001 03:29 PM

Goodness, haven't I had my grammatical hands slapped . . . I'll use dearth the correct way and say . . . there seems to be an abundance of travel information on the web and a dearth of travel agents who think outside the box. If I'm wrong maybe you could point me towards one or two!

"tired" Nov 29th, 2001 03:56 PM

My oh my,<BR><BR>I want to thank all of you who have responded here.<BR><BR>To Jim:<BR><BR>While your post was very nice I have just one question. You credit your knowledge to several things, one of those being the things you learned from travel agents over the years...Did you ever once offer to pay them for that knowledge, they probably spent thousands to go to school to learn their trade, and you pirated info from them, and then never went back, kinda like "buying a degree online without benefit of college".<BR><BR>To YECHHH,<BR><BR>The only Moran I see in these posts are you. You are probably one of the people who called in tears for help when you did screw up your own internet bookings. And you are exactly the kind of person that we do anything we can to drive you to the competion we don't like, because you deserve each other.<BR><BR>To Rita:<BR><BR>I am not clear on the $500.00 issue. Are you saying you would pay that much to an agent that could satisfy your anal retentive needs??? Clearly you did not research that agent/agency prior to walking in the door. Many agengy's have specialist's on board that deal only with certain destinations. Would you really walk into a doctor's office off the street for plastic surgury, or other medical needs, without first researching him/her?? I don't think so, and our profession is nothing different. You called commission payments kick backs, how much commission do you think car salesmen make, drug reps, etc...Are we so low on the food chain that we don't deserve right and just compensation? I have never, in the 11 years I have been a travel agent (with the same agency I started the profession in) sold to a client one vendor that provided a bigger commission over another. That is not to say that I don't offer the higher vendor, certainly I do, but it usually boils down to the cost for client and matching THEIR NEEDS TO THEM.<BR><BR>I will say, I agree, the airlines are moving to monopolize the air industry, that is why you get such better "deals" from those websites. Some said we don't deserve the commission/fee we would charge, NEWSFLASH, you are paying the internet sites one, you just don't know it because they are allowed to build the fee into the total cost of the ticket. When the airlines have succeeded in closing down each and every independent agency, who are you going to have to blame. Are you all so naive as to believe, those "great deals" are going to last forever??? Only until the last ARC agency in this great nation has returned their (a/l's) plates in and quit running a/l tickets....then look out....<BR><BR>

rita Nov 29th, 2001 04:07 PM

hmmmmm, what's that saying about opening up Pandora's Box? <BR><BR>I've never been called anal retentive before but if that is the level you want this post to sink to then so be it. Enjoy your rant.

Penny Nov 29th, 2001 04:36 PM

Rita,<BR><BR>I disagree with the poster who called you "anal retentive". I believe that you have been mistreated or snookered by a travel agent. I believe you should perhaps, rethink your use of a travel agent. But don't discount ALL TRAVEL AGENTS because of one bad experience. I have never been to Milan, but, I booked a wonderful trip for a corporate going to a men's accessory convention there last summer, and he came back absolutely beaming with delight...I am already planning his personal vacation time back there, and a visit to 4 other countries to boot. Your time is no more valuable than anyone else's, including people like me in my profession. THINK ABOUT IT!

Jim Rosenberg Nov 29th, 2001 05:53 PM

Making use of knowledge gained through experience and having gained much of that experience in the course of booking through travel agents is not "pirating" information or unethical in any way. For what I learned from travel agents, I paid the via the compensation structure that was in place at the time. (I also watched my plumber install a toilet at my expense once and subsequently installed the next one myself. Do you think I should send him a royalty check for "pirating" the information each time I perform such an operation in the future?). A "degree by mail" implies some kind of fraudulence and so the comparison to someone like me booking my own travel arrangements escapes me entirely. As I've said, many people can benefit from using a travel agent and that is probably the best way for them to go. I just don't happen to be one of those people for most circumstances, given the costs and options. Face it, the industry has changed and it will never be the way it once was. For that, I don't I owe anyone a dime and neither does any other consumer of travel services. I can understand why travel agents would not be happy about it, but nobody can put the genie back in the bottle now.

"tired" Nov 30th, 2001 06:43 PM

Jim,<BR><BR>You say you compensated them via what? How long ago? Most of the travel agents/agency's I know only went to service fee's approx. a year ago. As for installing a toilet, and royalty checks to the plumber. I guess if I watch my dentist fill my next cavity, then I can do it myself and save $$$, or even better, I can set my own broken bones. How many times have people called me, because they have messed up their "own internet bookings or been scammed?" Let's see, there was the lady that paid $5000.00 for a trip for her entire family to go to Vegas, never received documents up till the day prior to her departure, although she and we when we called on her behalf (what are you going to do when somebody is standing in front of you crying their eyes out? Say no), after a god awful wait on hold, we were told as well that her documents had been expressed mailed 5 days prior....no documents, no tracking number, nada zip zero...she paid our agency to recreate the internet trip, and she unfortunately paid dearly. Did we charge her a fee??? Nope..because "WE ARE HUMAN". Now let's see..oh yeah, there was 9/11/01.....we fielded calls for the airlines for almost 14 hours that day, because people couldn't get through to them, rebooked, long distance calls, ran down people's loved one's who were in NYC or DC....ours and several THOUSAND OTHER TRAVEL AGENCY'S. We are not the public library, and people should be ashamed of themselves presenting in our office's so they can watch what and how we do things in order to bypass us in the future. Go ahead and book it your self, I have no problem with that, but, the tricks you have learned from your prior travel agent useage years, got you the knowledge whether you choose to believe so or not. That is why, I no longer do "live bookings". I take the information by phone, or from walk-in's, and I tell them when I will call them back. If someone does walk in, I have them wait in the reception area and take print outs to go over with them. There is magic and mystery in our profession, and I won't have it pirated away.

Jim Rosenberg Dec 1st, 2001 04:12 AM

Please don't project situations you have encountered with others onto me as if I am somehow a part of them. Filling your own cavities or setting broken bones is not an apt comparison for people who have taken the time to learn about the travel industry. In that case, a closer description would be that you don't need a weatherman to figure out which way the wind is blowing. Again, there is a legitimate market for the services of good travel agents. It is simply not as large of a percentage of the bookings as it once was, due to changes in the industry. Consumers are not the problem and they are not your enemy!

"tired" Dec 1st, 2001 08:55 AM

Jim,<BR><BR>I am not trying to project anything onto you, book on line and be grateful that you have been successful thus far. Thanks for the comments regarding the valuable asset travel agents are. <BR><BR>The best recommendation I can make in choosing one is this, put a little time and effort into screening them to be sure they will match/suit your needs. Like I tell friends, family, and even some clients, if you need a lawyer, do you choose one that is fat and happy (meaning the large expensive type firms, of whom very few are ever in when you call) or would you want a lawyer that is "hungry" (meaning one that has to meet and pay bills, and will work that much harder for you, and return your calls in an acceptable time frame). Think about it, before you discount us all as useless (not you Jim, we know you SAY we're not). This subject is now closed for me, I thank the author for opening this up, it has opened mine and many other travel agents eyes.

mdirksen Dec 4th, 2001 03:59 AM

ATTEN; ALL TRAVEL AGENTS<BR>This has been the most interesting forum I've ever seen on the internet.<BR>We need to form our own chat room. Anyone interested? Rita don't bother to reply. Why do we bother to beat our heads against a wall for people that do not understand how our business works. We can't educate them all. When I opened my agency I didn't do tix. I used another co. to do them and split the commission, giving them all the headaches, and that was 10 yrs ago. For what they save on the internet, let them go! FEEL THE PEACE!! It's hard enough to stay in business as it is, concentrate on what you know best, keep informed and good luck!<BR>ps. most people do not have the time it takes to do the research on a particular destination, we all know how aggrevating it is. The endless hours on hold, unanswered questions. the list goes on forever. Rita must live a very <BR>questionable life. no wonder she's so hostile

Linda Dec 7th, 2001 01:25 PM

If this is a true discussion....I love to travel and used to use travel agents for all my arrangements. I have moved several times and each time started a new search for the "right" agent--someone who knows more than me about destinations, routes, and making arrangements; someone who will help me when things go wrong; and someone who will help me get a good deal for my leisure travel. That's a value I will pay for.<BR><BR>Unfortunately, I find that most agents do not have experience with my preferred destinations and activities. I would go to a travel agent for a cruise, for example, because I know nothing about them and there are agents who have been on many and specialize. But most can't help me with train travel in Europe, hiking routes, national parks in Thailand, etc. I piece that together from many sources.<BR><BR>I found I was usually just paying for issuing a ticket, making an online auto reservation with the discount number I provided, or booking a hotel on the same online sites I can access. <BR><BR>The key is help when something goes wrong. However, when I have flight problems out of town, the agent says its best to call the airline direct as that is what they would do. When I have had problems with hotel reservations agents said they would clear it up, but never did, leaving me with charges for their not canceling reservations when I called in with changes. When I showed up with car rental reservations at counters with no cars or unwilling to honor the rate the agents gave me, again the agents were no help--they can't produce cars and they forgot to tell me the rate wasn't guaranteed.<BR><BR>So, last time I used an agent was to book a trip to Thailand and China, using a China specialist who has been all over Southeast Asia and is a very nice person, but still I provided my desired destinations, hotels, tour guides, etc. as she offered only the standard tourist stops. We arrived at Bangkok at 11 pm, exhausted and jetlagged, only to find our private tour guide and driver were not there to meet us. We had to figure out alternative transportation, book a backup tour guide, and then go to bed with no help from our travel agent. The tour guide blamed us, saying the travel agent had faxed changes to our plans so many times, that the last fax she received had us arriving on a different airline at an earlier time. <BR><BR>So, I'll keep looking for help and I'm willing to pay for it.<BR><BR>Even my husband has turned his business travel over to me when I have time for it. He says my arrangements are more reliable with better rates.


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