use a travel agent or do it myself?

Old Mar 5th, 2003, 10:21 AM
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use a travel agent or do it myself?

i know there are pros and cons to using a travel agent but wanted others' opinions and experience with this. are the prices better by using a travel agent and how do you get travel insurance if you don't use a travel agent? thanks
pecugl is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2003, 10:59 AM
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With all the information made available to us all via the internet, I prefer to book everything myself. I actually enjoy doing my own research, and finding all the necessary details to put together a nice vacation. I know that travel agents supposedly have access to all the good deals, but if you do enough looking online, there are a ton of deals to be had. I guess some folks would rather just have someone else do all the work for them. By doing that, you are opening yourself up to possibly going somewhere you don't really enjoy, which could of been avoided by doing your own homework. Again, I truely find researching my vacation enjoyable, and is part of the excitement.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 11:12 AM
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I have done it both ways. I like talking directly to the resort in order to get a feel for what I want; however, last year I saved $1200+ by using my credit card's travel resources. I gained percs such as included breakfasts , a $50 gift certificate for the gift shop, room upgrades in addition to a credit when the resort charged me additional for days that fell into an increased rate due to change of seasons.

I feel that hotels are more apt to want to keep a travel agency happy because of the volume of business they generate. An individual usually represents only one room.

Presently, I am combining the two, by calling the resort direct and obtaining the information that I need to make my stay as pleasurable as posssible. After that, I call my travel agency and have them make my request with a written confirmaton containing my requests and alotted percs, and put that with my air tickets.

Travel insurance can be independently obtained through AAA. There are on line sites that can be obtained by asking on this site.

Hope this helps.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 11:17 AM
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Have done it both ways but have found that using a travel agent is a better way to go. First off if there are any problems there is someone to step in and rectify the situation for you. Also when comparing rates with other people who have done it on their own found out most times we did better with our agent as they got the deals that weren't available to the public.

Also an agent will listen to you and your wish list and give you options that meet all your needs. Our agent even contacts us when a special comes up to a destination we had mentioned we might be interested in.

As for travel insurance, you can buy on-line but beware there are different types of insurance so read carefully.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 11:19 AM
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I used to book through travel agents, but I have found in my experience that they do not carry ALL the hotels and in fact sometimes try to push the ones that they get a comission from, rather than trying to find a hotel specific to your requests and needs.

As a result I have taken to emailing hotels myself and making my own reservations,and I always get great deals, better than the "specials" I have seen advertised at travel agents most times.

For booking flights I do use travelocity to check for the cheapest flight and then book direct with the airline with the information I get off their site. It's great site though, with good tips, reviews and cheap flights.

I like to plan my own itineary as well, so I look for tours, car rental and restaurants on each island and I email direct. I don't go through orgainsed tour desks at the hotels, though I visit them while I am there to get their opinion of the tour /tour company I pre booked.

I use alot of the travel forums to get feedback from people who have visited hotels I am interested in staying at or who have done the tours I want to do and get tips from them.

It is so much fun doing it on your own, getting there is half the fun!
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 11:56 AM
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Before becoming a TA last year, I awlays used one. I still did all my research, found the best location, room etc. on my own. After getting prices on my own and then calling a TA I found my TA's prices were lower, due to using wholesalers, which only a TA can only book thru. Now that I am a TA I can tell you honestly, the only reason to do so is for the love of travel and enjoying research. even the travel benefits are not as good as they used to be. The commissions are a mere pittance, espically when they are 50%off the top, which goes to the "house". There are many people that I can spend hours on, researching the computer, calling wholesalers waiting up to 15 minutes to get to a rep. Only to find that when you call your customer, they changed their mind (after being very definate), want different dates or are just shopping. It is a lot of work for very little money, so for me commissions are not an issue (I have made $2.00 & $5.00 comm on hotels, so believe me when I tell you its not big deal!) Any TA will tell you the only decent commissions are in cruises and even they are modest.
i say use a TA, since it does not cost you anymore money.If you are booking a big expensive vacation you have "back - up" in case something goes wrong. Bear in mind not all Travel Agencies are not created equal, it is best to book thru a long standing TA espically if they are American Express.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 01:35 PM
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I am an ex travel agent(laid off after 9/11) and I have also done it both ways.
If you have the time, doing your own research, etc is great. If you are short on time, a good, experienced travel agent is a plus.

Travel agents do have access to wholesalers-they offer bulk airfares which are generally lower. Sometimes, this is not the case. As the previuos poster said, people do it for the love of travel and certainly not the money. Sometimes agents can get you upgrades and special amenities.

Recently I booked our GC trip with a travel agent. The condo price was the same, no package available. I checked the airfare on line and got the same price with my agent-they do add a fee. I asked her to see if the 1st class upgrade was available and believe it or not-it was. WHAT A Shock. She did that for me and that was that.

A couple of days later, I checked the airfare again, and the airline was offering a special web price. This was about $150 per person less than what I paid. BUT-I got a first class upgrade so I feel I did better.

The moral of the story-I would do your research and then go to an experienced travel agent. Compare the 2 and make a decision-especially if it doesn't cost you anything.
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Old Mar 6th, 2003, 08:27 AM
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I do 90% of the research and then book through my travel agent. However, I do listen to her recommedations. I once priced out a trip my myself vs. my TA and the deal through my TA was better. Also, if there is a problem, it's always nice to have someone behind you.
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 06:22 AM
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We have done it both ways. I do a lot of research before choosing an island and then choose our destination and hotel. The biggest advantage in using a TA is that we have gotten on flights that as individuals we were told were booked. They also have had access to package deals I was unable to find. However, I have gotten better rooms booking on my own and questions answered without phone calls going back and forth. When problems have arisen I've generally gotten, "Well, you should have called". On a Saturday? So, it's a toss of the coin.
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