Travel Agent?

Old May 7th, 2004, 01:20 PM
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Travel Agent?

Can anyone tell me the benefits of using a travel agent rather than booking a trip myself thru the hotel and flight thru a site like Expedia. From the little research I've done, it seems like it may be cheaper doing it myself. Am I wrong?
rebarmark is offline  
Old May 7th, 2004, 02:17 PM
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While you may save some $$ by going through a "do-it-yourself" website, you may end up with a headache should anything not go according to your specifications. Most larger travel agencies have pull when dealing with an unexpected problem that may arise because we have direct communication with the reps that private consumers do not. They will try to do everything in their power to make their customers, i.e. travel agencies, happy. Good Luck no matter what your decision.
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Old May 7th, 2004, 02:34 PM
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IMO, Travel agents are good if you don't want to take the time to research and choose, and are happy with package vacations or tours. While BjorkChop has a point about smoothing out trouble, I guess it just depends on what kind of trip you're trying to do whether or not a travel agent is a good ally or not. Most of the time I am happier with DIY trips, but I am a dilligent and thorough travel planner, and doing all the homework up front is part of my anticipation of my trip. Just like anything else, Travel agent services are a service, or a convenience. It elminates some work for you...at a cost. You can still buy travel insurance, even if you don't go through a travel agent.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 04:02 AM
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We have travelled extesively, I reasearch where I want to go and hotels to stay in with the costs then have my travel agent book them. She often times gets us upgrades at hotels and occasionally first class on planes. She makes a living and we get a benefit also.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 08:55 AM
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I have not found any website that a good travel agent cannot meet or match pricewise. They have access to the same wholesale airfare prices that Expedia, etc. do and a good one can accomodate your schedule better. I agree that you should have a very good idea of where you want to stay when dealing with an agent and if they suggest something else, it should be because they have actually stayed there. There are some very well travelled agents out there who will have first hand experiences to share with you - or can put you in touch with another client who has been there.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 09:29 AM
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It never hurts to have an agent...after you do your research yourself. There are many things a well traveled travel agent can help you with - like air travel. It can get complicated with connecting flights, different air carriers to one destination - etc. I have read here lots of people use their "miles" for a free flight on one carrier and have to connect to another carrier with under an hour in a huge, spread out airport like San Juan (for exaple, since most connect in SJU for the caribbean) It's just not possible or nearly impossible. A travel agent will know to advise their client. I have seen so many people in SJU miss their connecting flight becasue of this.

I have found a TA cannot get you anything that you cannot get yourself $$, as an above poster stated with regards to wholesalers.. but if you get a travelling TA, they can offer great advice.
If you are inexperienced, I would recommend a TA, if you know where your going and how to get there...DIY.

Most times if traveling on a Sat, and you run into a problem, the travel agency is closed and you are on your own (which happened to me twice). I have found the best for us is AmEx travel, as the agents get the best price, you are always upgraded with ammenities and they are always there 24/7...
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Old May 10th, 2004, 10:35 AM
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A t/a can get you things you can't get yourself,such as the upgrade plane vouchers I recieve from her occasionally,and the occasional limo to the airport that she provides. I reasearch thoroughly and never pay more than If I booked myself. I am loyal to her and she appreciates my business.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 03:41 PM
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I'm surprised at all the pro-agent comments.
I've read at least three articles in travel oriented publications in which TA's were not able to consistently out-do a web-savvy non-agent. Sometimes the TA's have better success, sometimes not.
Now those were for generic trips, say, NYC-Atlanta, chain hotel, etc etc.
No question that agents who do volume business with certain hotels or chains or cruise lines get upgrade clout at times.
And it can be an advantage to have an agent in case of trouble.
__But: an alternative is to use someone like American Express travel for bits and pieces of a trip (they don't always get the cheapest rooms or fares) so that they'll rescue you in case of trouble. And AmEx Platinum will help you out no matter what you're situation, even if they didn't book your trip.
Be honest, those of you who use agents, there is no travel agent who will consistently put as much effort into tailoring your trip to meet your exact goals and tastes, and search (over time) to find THE best deal. They don't have the time or interest to do so. A specialty agent (only does northern Italy, for example) may be a great resource to clue you into things you'd not discover on your own, etc. But on average TA's can't consistently match up with a motivated and wise traveller.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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Absolutely true, Ted...I have found inconsistency in using a travel agent. Some travel agents do not even travel, and I have found that I am educating the TA on a resort and how to get there. As far as upgrades...well quite honestly we use our points for upgrades, and any upgrade we have gotten was because of the airline, not the TA.
We have AmExPlat and use the service all the time...quite honestly it is better than any TA we have ever used. Also to the caribbean (international flights) the have free companion fare- buy 1 bus class ticket and the other is free--can't beat that anywhere! I like the fact that you get the same agent helping you all the time..your own personal travel ass't. Also they do something a TA cannot do- get you dinner reservations and tickets anytime anywhere - even when its booked. When you book a hotel reservation with them, you are automatically upgraded, (we have always been), and get tons of ammenities, and pay less than rack rate...even better than a Virtuoso agent. And they are ALWAYS there. We checked into high end resort which we booked thru a TA, and were given the wrong room...we were actually downgraded. I called the agency and got the answering machine (and they are an AmEx travel agency too).....I never used them again..We had to do battle at the front desk and clear it all up-not the best way to start a vaction.

In my experience, a TA cannot compare to the service we get with AmExPlat..and we have used some highly recommended TA's. I don't mind using one, but when you can do it yourself and get the same price for doing so...do it, at least you are in control of your own booking. After using a TA for so long, I have yet to see the advantage of using a TA.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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Well, Annabel, I completely share your feelings about AmExPlatinum, and I've received so many great perks from them over the years that I never think twice about the annual fee. I still book my own domestic travel if I can beat them (places like LuxuryLink, for example, can beat best TA prices by >50% on occasion). But all that can require considerable time and effort, which many people wish to avoid. I get some type of strange enjoyment out of the research and planning.
I don't wish to sound like I'm advertising for AmEx, but I agree with everything you've said.
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