Travel Agents Big Pain in Butt!!!

Mar 5th, 2003, 07:27 PM
  #1  
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Travel Agents Big Pain in Butt!!!

I should have listened to you all and planned my trip myself. I will start doing that now!

I guess I was naive when I thought I could book my trip in a week's time going through a travel agent. I go in several travel agents telling them exactly where I wantt to go to and how long I want to stay. They say ok, and come back with tons of crap that I dont need.

I am really fed up with them! For those who booked your vacation to Australia yourself, do you think it is cheaper than doing it w/ a travelagent and tours?

Thanks,
Nack
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Mar 5th, 2003, 09:48 PM
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I don't know if it is cheaper but I feel you can sure plan just what you want. Travel agents do an excellent job on packages but for the independent traveler I think doing it yourself is a much better way to go. Wendy
Wengod is offline  
Mar 5th, 2003, 09:50 PM
  #3  
ALF
 
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I think that it is an extraordinarily rare travel agent who can really help you with Australia travel. All most of them know how to do is book you into major hotels and put you on one of the big tours. Even if that is what you want to do, you can do that cheaper online as well.

A small amount of research will help you figure out what YOU want to do, based on what you like to do. We like to use B & Bs, avoid big crowds, find out-of-the-way places, and travel at our own place; TAs have never worked for us.

A few years ago, my family traveled around the South Pacific for 10 months - we figured that one of the so-called "Down Under" or "South Pacific" 'specialists' could at least help us get good airfares - we saved over $1,000 booking our own flights over the best price quoted by a TA.

Buy a good guide book or two (we like Lonely Planet), ask some questions in places like this, then do it yourself.
ALF is offline  
Mar 6th, 2003, 04:13 PM
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I think travel agents used to have a lot more value - but now we have the internet. Everyday people have access to the very lowest plane fares and a wealth of information. I feel that there isn't anything a travel agent can do for ME as long as I have the time and interest to plan my own trip.
Ericka is offline  
Mar 6th, 2003, 08:14 PM
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To ALF - your trip around the South Pacific sounds wonderful - I'd love to read about it, do you have a trip report or website? My email is [email protected] if you can send me any info I'd really appreciate it.

To NACK - having done it both ways, I am sure it's cheaper to do all the bookings yourself. We often book small family run hotels or B&Bs that the travel agents don't have access to. Transfers from airport to hotel in particular are generally a rip-off, we have found transport ourselves at a quarter of the price. It depends if you want to do all the work of planning, I love it, but it does take time.
Kay
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Mar 7th, 2003, 09:34 PM
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Sometimes theyy are useful, though, as they can find rates and destinations that one wouldn't normally find on your own. Plus, they can vouch for operators about which I don't know anything about.
That said, I never give agents a free rein and will continue to hunt down rates and destinations on my own. If I beat them and they can't match, then tough, I'll make my own arrangements. I'm sure that most serious agents will understand that they have to compete with whatever is out there.
In planning a diving trip in Asia and a trip to Western Australia I have come across one which has been excellent so far, in terms of service at least. The name is Aqua Terra Adventures and the web site is at www.aquaterra-ventures.com/wa/index.php3
jfmp is offline  
Mar 15th, 2003, 10:45 PM
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Nack (and others),

As in every industry, there are good and bad people to work with, and it sounds like Nack didn't have a good match, which is really a shame!

Nack, I don't know what sort of agents you were working with, but I'll grant you that going into the average travel agency and asking them to plan your trip to Australia could be risky -- agents can't know every area of the world, and granted, some will try to "fake it" just to make the sale.

As in any transaction where you're turning over your hard earned cash for good results, you should try to make sure you're working with someone who has experience. Find an agent and interview them -- ask how many times they've been to Australia, when was the last time they were there, and see if they LISTEN to your outline of interests and things you want to accomplish on your trip.

While I mostly agree with ALF on things, I can't go along with "most of them put you in major hotels and on big tours"...geez, at least I HOPE that's not what most of us are doing! That's a big generalization....sort of like saying ALL lawyers are sharks or all mechanics rip off women!

A good agent will be able to "suss out" exactly what type of traveller you are -- whether you're the sort of person who wants a structured tour or that one-of-a-kind amazing unique, independent experience that they know about and plan your trip accordingly.

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist





wlzmatilida is offline  
Mar 16th, 2003, 07:34 AM
  #8  
ALF
 
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Sorry Melodie, but that has been my experience (and I did write 'most', not 'all', so your lawyer analogy is faulty). I have yet to find a travel agent interested in booking B & Bs, small obscure airlines (that leaves out inter-island travel in French Poly, Fiji, Tonga, or the Cooks), or day tours (e.g. Fox Glacier guided walk or heli-hike, 1-day SCUBA trip to GBR, guided walk around Uluru, visit to Aboriginal village - the list goes on). Some will do so under duress (i.e. the customer might not book his $8,000 worth of airline tickets if he can't get anything else), but, not in my experience, willingly. Face it, there isn't enough commission in this sort of thing to justify doing a lot of work. That's OK, I don't expect someone to do a lot of work for me in exchange for little or no compensation.
ALF is offline  
Mar 18th, 2003, 11:53 AM
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I have done every conceivable kind of Australia trips for my customers. We work closely together to find just what,where and when and how much they want. I don't 'push' anything unless it's something I think they truly would enjoy and have done myself. Sorry you got a bad apple. Stick with an Aussie Specialist like Melodie and I think you might be very pleasantly surprised at just how helpful a knowledgable agent can be. Good contacts in Oz are a huge help price wize as well. Cheers
hanna is offline  
Mar 21st, 2003, 05:06 PM
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Hello!

First of all, thank you Hanna!

ALF, I've booked every single tour and excursion that you mentioned in your post for clients; and many times without the $8,000 worth of airline tickets you mentioned. Many clients use mileage, so sometimes it's just the land portion. Granted, I've never had anyone contact me about "just" one tour or one hotel, it's usually in conjunction with their entire itinerary.

Although, that said, I did book a hotel only for a 97 year old gentlemen, travelling by himself for 10 days, whose primary focus was playing golf! I found a bus transfer for him from the airport to the hotel which was located right across from the golf course. I sort of worried about him being a bit isolated, but it turned out fine as everyone was more than helpful and he would hitch a ride into with one of the kitchen staff when they picked up produce! Too funny!

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Dec 29th, 2003, 06:26 PM
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The bottom line with travel agents is that they get commissions. This sometimes provides a conflict of interest as the biggest companies offer the best commissions. On the other hand, it is hard for any travle agent to be an expert on every place in the world!
When I travel, I book the flights myself and then wait till I get to the local area. I like to listen to the advice of locals who live in the area. Then you get the best information possible and you can choose tours to suit yourself.
That of course is why sites like these are so fantastic for independant travellers!
The only problem can be when people dont have a lot of time in one area. In port Douglas for example if someone has 3 days here and thats all, it can be hard to get on tours, as some book out 3 days in advance. Viva the internet I say, then you can do your research and make bookings before you get there.
Port_princess is offline  
Dec 29th, 2003, 08:55 PM
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Unfortunately, I have to agree with Alf regarding SOME travel agents pushing major hotels and big tours. It often makes me shudder when a guest arrives with all tours booked and pre-paid when I could have found them a more suitable tour with less people and usually at lower cost. Travel agents have as much access to B&B's and small family run hotels as anyone else - it does seem that the higher commission from a larger establishment will win out in some cases. But often the guest is at fault too - we had 4 Canadian guests who walked out because "our agent didn't tell us that Cairns was so hot" (in summer!), "there were lizards in the house" (house geckos) and there was a possibility of seeing a green tree frog in the house! One might have expected the agent to know about the climate but I wouldn't go to Toronto in winter and blame the agent for not telling me it would be cold , nor expect her to know the habits of the local wildlife. It's great to see agents like Melodie doing site and trip inspections - one of the major probems with overseas agents here is that a lot of them don't have a clue of the geography of the area.
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 09:09 AM
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Well, though admittedly, I didn't try REALLY hard.. I was somewhat directed to a Travel Agent via the Quantas/Australia.com web site, which advertised a package (not a "tour" just hotels and flights) that I really wanted to take advantage of as it covered the exact itinerary I was plotting on my own. For better or worse, after initial inquiry I was directed to an "Aussie Specialist" here in the US. The T.A has been very helpful with descriptions of hotels etc, and that sort of thing, including some things I hadn't considered (Michaelmas Cay for example).. Frankly, I have travelled ALOT, and done 98% of it without a TA.. so I feel as though I could have booked my trip just as easily myself (had the same situation in Africa last year and TA came in extremely handy when our flights got messed up) .. but what can you do.. I will have to wait until I return from my trip to let you know how it all turns out.
Thyra is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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Unfortunately Travel Agent's have a conflict of interest. What is better for an agent (or an agent's employer) commission on a lodge costing $500 a night or commission on a lodge costing $100 a night? It would take a scrupulously honest agent, with an understanding employer, to include the cheaper alternative.
Once travellers had few options but then along came the internet and Fordor's Forum!
Sunfish is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 05:59 PM
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Hello All,

well, this is certainly an interesting thread!

First of all let me clear up some misconceptions.....

1. "travel agents do packages but can't do much for an independent traveller". Well, yes, packages are EASY (and boring)... I've been an Aussie Specialist since 1995 and I've only put ONE client on a package.

2. B&B's. Travel agents DO have access to them, just as everyone else does. If that's what the client wants, the agent should be booking it.

3. PortPrincess...yes, agents get commission - that's how we get paid..just like a realtor.

4. Doing your own research....hey, if that's how you want to spend your time (and many people do) then go for it! Just remember, everyone can make a website look good, and there's no substitute for first hand experience.

5. Sunfish...actually travel agents should NOT have a conflict of interest (again, I'm not speaking for ALL agents here), but it just seems like common sense to me....you asked which was better - a lodge costing $500 a night or $100 night for the agent's commission? Well, for one thing, a client's already told me they want to spend "$100 a night", so I'd have to be a pretty good salesperson to justify $400 more! A good agent, or agency, realizes that you are building a RELATIONSHIP with the client, not just a "sale". Hopefully, you'll have this client for many years, and they in turn, will recommend you to their friends,etc., because you've done a good job in satisfying their needs. That's not even getting into the whole moral issue...when a client comes to you with their trip of a lifetime, it's a responsibility that every agent should take seriously.

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 01:18 PM
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Melodie-

What city are you in? A friend of mine is planning his honeymoon here, and I'm helping him out but (although he knows it's against my personal M.O.) he'd like to use a travel agent. I told him I'd find an Aussie Specialist for him in his city.
PixieChick is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2004, 03:13 PM
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Melodie, would you be willing to e-mail me at [email protected] and give me an e-mail address at which I might contact you? There's something I'd like to ask you. It would not be a request for travel arrangements, but I do not believe it would take more than a few minutes of your time. But please don't do it if you find it inconvenient. I'm sure you're a busy woman.

Thanks.

Judy.
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Jan 2nd, 2004, 04:26 PM
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Our travel agent is a native Australian, and she really seems to know her stuff. She's giving us a great mix of some guided tours and other stuff to do on our own. She's putting us in some smaller hotels and I think we're getting decent rates. Probably we could have done it on our own, but frankly we didn't know where to start and having her put together an itinerary for us has been great. In the end, I think we'll just book airfare, hotels and maybe 2 tours - Kangaroo Island and Uluru - through them, and we'll leave the rest of the touring options up to us when we're there...
jilln is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 03:36 AM
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Melodie-

Done. I was looking for it on Australia.com before but missed it.

What's your contact information/email? I would prefer to point him in your direction, as I know about the ASP and realistically there are a fair number of people who do the "specialisation" but really don't know much (and certainly haven't been to Australia).

Cheers
PixieChick is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 10:10 AM
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There are moments when one can find oneself being glad one has used a travel agent. The example that immediately springs to mind for me is in the context of business travel rather than leisure travel. When 9/11 happened, several of my company's employees were in various parts of the U.S. on business trips. Some of them were in the air when 9/11 happened, and their planes were diverted to the nearest airport and ordered to land, etc. Because all of these people had booked their travel with the travel agency that the company always used, the travel agency was able to provide our company president a list, within an hour or so, of our employees who were travelling and where they were supposed to be. By the end of that business day the company president had managed to tick off his list and satisfy himself that everyone was safe. On that one day we discovered how useful our travel agency was.
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