Travel Agents Big Pain in Butt!!!

Jan 4th, 2004, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 392

Through the website I had a letter of introduction and business card from a local travel agent who said she was a specialist on Australia. Since we were interested and I wanted an Australian specialist I contacted this person only to find she had never been to Australia but had taken a course on Australia.

I know breaking into any field is not easy, but would you not think a requirement would have to be that the person would have visited Australia at least once? Even then I'm not sure I would have her plan an independent trip for me. My TA is a senior in her field and has made many trips to that part of the world. What do you think?

I like your answers to this post, Melodie. I've only had good TAs but like any occupation and profession, there are the good and bad so why knock the whole industry?
michi is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 08:23 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Hi Adeleh,

Is your e-mail correct? I just attempted to e-mail you, but my message came back as undeliverable.

I'm not a travel agent. Rather, I wanted to give you the name of a travel agent.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 04:49 AM
Posts: n/a
I am sorry. The email address is:
[email protected]
Jan 6th, 2004, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Hi Michi,

Well, I DOES seem like someone who's designated a Specialist in an area should have actually BEEN there! (sheesh). I know this does happen (which is why you were smart to ask the right questions, even a basic one such as "have you ever been to Australia?")

As you stated so well.."there are good and bad in every industry".

Here's the scoop on the Specialist designation from the Australian Tourist Commission. You are required to go through a very extensive course of study and pass a very lengthy Final Exam. Once you pass the test, you are eligible for a fam (familiarization) trip sponsored by the ATC, after the Convention in Los Angeles each year. These trips cover most areas of Australia and are offered on a "first come, first serve" basis when you sign up for the Convention.

So, perhaps the agent you went to has passed her Final Exam, but hasn't had the opportunity to visit Australia yet. However, I can't believe she sent out a letter and business card introducing herself as a Specialist tho!

Or, the other possibility is: there are agents who will go thru the entire testing process JUST to get the "free trip" (although keep in mind, this IS a business trip so it's a requirement to attend everything on the itinerary which is usually pretty intensive, but still, agents will do it).

A number of us Specialists have asked the ATC fine tune their program. Perhaps model it after the Scottish Specialist program, which is one of the toughest. They award different levels of expertise like silver, gold", or platinum, based on how many times an agent has visited, areas seen, etc. Right now, the Australian Tourist Commission does also separate modules of specialization too - such as South Australia, Tasmania, etc., so if an agent has taken (and also the agent is paying for these, they are not free) I think it shows an additional commitment.


Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Jan 9th, 2004, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
The problem in the reverse direction: I once booked travel to the US through a local Thomas Cook agency and, with several weeks to spare, was more than somewhat surprised to be told that there were no hotel rooms to be had in Manhattan during the week in question. None? No, none. It took me 5-10 minutes on the Web and a 5-minute call to the US to secure a discounted mini-suite in a decent midtown hotel. Further contact revealed what we should have found out first up, that in addition to lacking initiative, the guy we dealt with had never himself visited the USA. I guess this just reinforces the points made by other posters.
Neil_Oz is offline  
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