Travel agents

Old Nov 29th, 2004, 10:42 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 209
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Travel agents

I am researching a trip to Australia (Sydney, Melbourne and Blue Mountains). Does anyone have a good travel agent to recommend? (I live in NY). Thanks.
beth23 is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 11:44 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Melodie Kenney at Kennedy Kruises. She lives in California, but has clients all over the United States. Melodie regularly travels to Oz and NZ, so she knows the countries from first hand experience. If memory serves me correctly, she has been in NZ for part of November 2004, but very likely has gotten back home now. The reason I know all this is that Melodie is one of the folks who posts here at Fodors, and I seem to recall a message or two in which she mentioned her impending departure for NZ.

http://www.kennedykruises.com/

If you particularly want to find a travel agent in your own State, you can go Tourism Australia's website at:

http://www.syd.australia.com/home_US.aust?L=en&C=US

Then click on the button at the top of the screen that's entitled "Plan Your Trip." That will give you a pull down menu from which you can select "Find a travel agent." You fill in a questionnaire, and they send you a list of travel agents in your State who are certified as "Aussie Specialists."
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 12:30 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 327
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I recently booked all my flights with www.swainaustralia.com. They are located in the suburbs of Philly (where I am) but I did all the bookings by email and phone. I worked with Sue and she was very patient as I changed my itinerary a few times due to flight days and times.
If nothing else their website is good to browse and has a lot of info. I used their itineraries to get ideas for my own trip.
pb_and_j is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 06:32 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello All,

Well, of course the "travel agent" subject line caught my eye! Phew! I thought it was going to be another rant so I was pleasantly surprised not only to find someone looking for an agent, but to see that Judy from Calgary mentioned me (and no, I haven't met Judy, haven't sent her on a trip, and I don't pay her any "kickback" for mentioning me (but maybe I SHOULD)! I was just plesasantly surprised to see my name mentioned! Thanks Judy! And you were right...I'm just back from 3 weeks in NZ; took a number of new tours, checked out hotels, got lots of info.

Beth, you can go to australia.com and find an Aussie Specialist in your area. Aussie Specialists are travel agents who have gone through an extensive course of study, passed a huge test, and hopefully, if they're good agents, have been and experienced the country first hand! Don't be afraid to ask your agent questions -- like...."when was the last time you visited Australia and how long were you there?" Like any other professional (doctor, lawyer...you should check their expertise). These agents are there to help you have the best vacation experience possible.

PB&J (love that name!) also mentioned Swain, which is a wholesaler, and a very good one. Most agents work with a wholesaler, as we can get the best rates through them for our clients because of the volume they do with hotels, etc.

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie,Kiwi and Tasmania Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 09:12 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,503
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Melodie, I'm looking forward to reading a trip report and discovering the answer to the all-important question...did you get to check out Sam Neill? ;;-)

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2004, 04:52 AM
  #6  
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
beth23 - I'm also a New Yorker and we also used Swain for our trip to Australia in '95. Excellent service, patient agent and great prices. Do check them out.
 
Old Nov 30th, 2004, 05:31 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lee Ann,

I DID check out Sam Neil! I was driving right by his winery and he was out on a tractor in the field and waved at me....yeah...I'm SURE it was him! Then, the next day I took a tour and my guide pointed out his house (very big as you'd expect)...I didn't see him, so no waving that day!

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2004, 08:05 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 209
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all your input. Researching such a far-off destination was overwheling me. Now it seams much more feasable.
beth23 is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2004, 10:31 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lots of info as close as your PC, beth23 - if you haven't done so already I suggest checking out the official tourist site www.australia.com even before you see a travel agent so that you can have a more informed discussion. And of course get hold of a guide book.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 03:33 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Melodie - it's wonderful that you have taken the time to specialise in Oz and NZ trips - and you're doing a bloody good job. But please spare a thought for us, who have to suffer what some agents drop on us. I'm particularly "narky" tonight - I have two sets of lovely Parisians, the French agent has sent me loads of bookings, but never, how much I plead and beg will this agent give me the guests' arrival time. Or even their flight no. In Cairns this can be anything between 4.40am and 1.00am the next day (or morning). A bit tricky in a 5 bedroom B&B - we don't have 24 hour check-in because sometimes we need to sleep.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 07:08 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Pat / aka Ms. Narky!

Thank you for the kind words....I'm at a loss to know why the French agent wouldn't give you arrival times for clients. The only thing I could think of is that maybe she doesn't KNOW them because they booked their own air? But as you say she's booked with you many times before, that's probably not the case.

That would still be odd, as even if I am only doing a portion of a trip; say, with my newest client, who's attending a wedding in Sydney in March -- even though I haven't made his SYD hotel reservation for him, I still want to know where he is in case I have to reach him!

And, by the way, I've got the OTHER problem...this guy doesn't KNOW where he's staying! He says yesterday, but "we're meeting with the other couples of the wedding party next weekend and I can tell you then". Then he goes onto New Zealand where he's staying with
(I guess) the same couples at the "Milford Resort in Queenstown"....that took me a moment to figure out me meant the MILLBROOK Resort in Arrowtown!

I dunno about you Pat, but I've often thought of doing something easier for a living..you know, like "Brain Surgery at Home".....

Best regards,

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 07:31 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>>>>>>I dunno about you Pat, but I've often thought of doing something easier for a living..you know, like "Brain Surgery at Home".....<<<<<<

That's a brilliant idea, Melodie! You could set up a one-stop-shop. A traveller could come to you for a common sense implant, after which you could proceed with making his/her travel reservations, which of course would be much easier for you once he/she had had the implant.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 07:08 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Judy,

You crack me up! Oh, if it were only that easy (or available)! The one thing I've realized as maturity settles in is that you CANNOT teach someone common sense! You either have it or don't, so that transplant idea is BRILLIANT!

Regards,

Melodie
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 03:50 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, Melodie and Judy, that would solve so many problems. This Parisian agent is impeccable in terms of notice - gives me heaps and payment always in advance - only expects 10% commission, (some want 30%) which on our prices is about all we can afford without just breaking even or going broke. Just falls down on arrival times for guests and doesn't quite get local bookings right. eg - the agent booked both French couples on a rainforest trip but on different days - this trip has guides who speak French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese and Mandarin -- but not all at once. So we have different languages and guides for different days of the week. Now the local operator (German) picked up on the fact, but only on reading the manifest on the morning of the trip, that the agent had booked the second French couple on an Italian speaking day, understandable because they have an Italian surname and the agency has an office in Rome, but the German guy noticed their first names are very French. So he thought it would be a good idea to send them on the French day, but it was too late to cancel the reef trip that the agent had booked them on. By their surname, I also took them to be Italian, as soon as they arrived they told me they were not Italian and cannot speak the language, they are French and they do speak good English. So a French or English speaking day would have been fine. Now the agent did get it right for the first French couple (with a Polish surname) - the wife truly cannot speak a word of English and definitely needs a French speaking guide. The point is, having met the people face to face, I could have worked it out in a nano-second and fixed them on the right days. Aaargh!
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Dec 4th, 2004, 05:08 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,649
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Pat, We always asked for videos of perspective guests before we would give them a reservation at Four Kachinas Inn. If we didn't like their presentation we sent them to Woop Woop.

AndrewDavid
AndrewDavid is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2004, 06:34 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 209
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Am I correct in assuming that Aussie spoecialists, like other travel agents, do not charge for their services? Meaning, I will not be charged for the time I spend meeting with the travel specialist in planning the trip.
beth23 is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2004, 07:18 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Beth,

yes, you are correct, Aussie Specialists, like other travel agents don't charge for their services. We are paid by the supplier (the hotel, the tour operator, etc). This is our commission (just like a real estate agent).

And, new since I've just gotton back from NZ; the Australian Tourist Commission has "re-vamped" the Specialist Program. It's now 2-tiered, with certain agents going to "Premier Specialist" status. I just got word this week that I "made the cut" so to speak ! And today they sent me an email of what I have to provide by December 20th.....and one thing is a picture as they will be posting this on the official tourism website, www.australia.com. EEEK. I take the WORST pictures!!

While we don't charge, and I can't speak for other agents, in my agency we require a deposit to begin work on a client's itinerary. This deposit is applied to their cost of the trip. We then send a Draft Itinerary listing hotels, suggestions for tours, etc for the client to review. The client then decides what they like, or don't, and we just keep "fine-tuning" it until it's just what they want.

The balance should be paid 30-45 days before departure, and then we send out a detailed, day-by-day itinerary complete with addresses and contact numbers as well as an emergency contact number in Australia in case of any problems; that, along with airline tickets, tour vouchers, some coupons and lots of info on the areas they'll be visiting are sent by Certified Mail.

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2004, 05:08 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Swain Tours and Travel in Philadelphia are Aussie travel experts...
IanB is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Wren55
Australia & the Pacific
5
Jul 7th, 2010 03:39 PM
laurel53
Australia & the Pacific
16
Jan 19th, 2009 07:05 PM
elainezw
Australia & the Pacific
4
Jan 23rd, 2008 05:43 AM
Amanda_Chicago
Australia & the Pacific
8
Jan 28th, 2004 08:58 AM
chad
Australia & the Pacific
9
Oct 30th, 2002 12:18 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:11 AM.