Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Better to use a travel agent? New book says so

Better to use a travel agent? New book says so

Jul 2nd, 2001, 04:20 AM
Posts: n/a
Better to use a travel agent? New book says so

A new travel book I read yesterday says it is always better to use a travel agent for all travel arrangements. And he was not an agent. I have always done it all myself and have been fine, but could it be better, easier, cheaper, if I used an agent? Ideas?
Jul 2nd, 2001, 04:33 AM
Posts: n/a
Here is one more post by a travel agent

If you visit this board often enough you will know that there is no need for travel agents. We just came bak from New Zeland and we booked everything on our own using e-mails. We had the best trip ever
Jul 2nd, 2001, 05:10 AM
Posts: n/a
I assume you've all noticed that Debbiei did not post the name of the book!
Jul 2nd, 2001, 05:11 AM
Posts: n/a
It has been my experience that sometimes travel agents can do better with
surfing through all the airfare options.
I know there are plenty of do-it-yourself airline engines now, and I do try to gather the options myself, but
I find it overwhelming sometimes, and not necessarily efficient. ON a couple of occasions a travel agent has come up with less-expensive air fare options than I was able to find on my own.
I always do my own extensive research
on hotels, day trips,and any other arrangements. If my agent is booking the airfare I may give her/him the info
to also book the hotel or whatever else that I've chosen. But most often I do the whole thing on my own, including the airfare.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 05:15 AM
Posts: n/a
I find advice to

"always use a travel agent"

about as far off base as

"never use a travel agent"

It's the rare travel agent that really has outstanding destination information. You can do a far better job of planning your trip, usually, than any agent will do for you. Only a fraction of the hotels in Europe pay commissions, so many travel agents will only book you in those. (Expect, in fact offer, to pay for bookings in other properties ... at the least, the phone or fax charges).

On the other hand, unless you book hundreds of people yearly on flights to Europe, airline and airfare selection are best left to experts. Not every travel agent knows the full ins and outs of international air travel ... in fact few do. So it's hard to find true experts ... but more than worth the effort. I think, for most folks, booking your own air travel is akin to acting as your own doctor or defending yourself in court.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 05:40 AM
Posts: n/a
I'm one of those people who usually uses a travel agent. One reason is that I don't have a convenient fax number for return faxes. The other is that I enjoy talking over travel with our agent. It's a nice face-to-face opportunity to share information and, in my case, educate her about travel in the balkans! I usually come in with flights and hotels selected -- for me it's just easier to turn it over to her at that point.

Another major reason I use a travel agent is that I want to counter the airlines [and other providers] tendency to cut out the travel agent by cutting their commissions and offering internet only fares.

Many on this forum are comfortable, I know, with doing all their own arrangements. And, as a recent thread showed, not all travel agents are equally responsive and or respondible BUT it's a service option I would hate to see disappear from the travel world. The treavel agents don't deserve being shoved aside in the manner that currently seems to be happening.

We've done enough business with our agent that she doesn't mind reserving small hotels for us via fax that don't pay commission. For the next trip, though, I booked my husband's ORD/LHR fare on the American Airlines site -- it was $100 less there. So I called the London hotel myself to make his reservation. But I booked MY CDG fare with her because there was no savings on the AA site. [We fly AA internationally to get swissair qualiflyer miles AND the 2 extra inches in sardine class DOES make a difference!] And asked my agent to make the hotel reservation for me even though Hotel la Motte Picquette is not commissionable. Basically I try to play fair with her, giving her the business when all other things are equal -- doing it myself when they are not. As a result I have a professional travel agent who will go to the mat for us when it is needed.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 05:59 AM
Posts: n/a
There is one particularly good reason for using a travel agent (or at least, a package)

There are regulations in Europe which specify that any booking of more than one component (flight/car/accommodation/golf round/whatever)
is a package and that the agent has liability for any screw ups. For thsi reason I cannot get my husband to go freehand
Jul 2nd, 2001, 06:02 AM
Posts: n/a
Once the travel industry has eliminated travel agents, who will fight for us?
I do my research, find the cheapest airfare I can get, the prices on the hotels I want and then take all that info to my travel agent. Her challenge is to beat the price I can get and if so, book it. What she can not book (certain hotels etc.) I book.
She always beats my price to the Caribbean and has beaten some of my air fares. If anything goes wrong, I have her fight my battles.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 07:47 AM
Mary Ann
Posts: n/a
A lot depends on the travel agent. I have received both bad and good advice which is why research is a must either way to know if you are really doing what you want to do. On our last trip which was to OZ and NZ we did everything, flew frequent flyers (FFs)there and back but made directly all arrangements in between for flights, hotels, day tours, train, even a few restaurants. No problem except for when the airlines changed the flight times and we had to reroute a couple days. Friends of ours went over a couple months later. Do to complexity and using FFs they ending up paying for the services of a very good travel agent. Ironically, many of the day tours we booked were the same. And guess what the airlines changed flight times and they had to reroute.
The biggest difference was in availability of time and research required by the two parties. Our friends did not have the time to hassel the arrangements but then paid more for the use of the agent.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 08:04 AM
Posts: n/a
My husband & I have been to Europe twice a year since 1990 and the only time the arrangements were royally screwed up was the one time we went with a travel agent. Ever since, we take care of everything including flights, hotels, tours, car, etc... In the Era of Internet, I see no use for a TA unless you just do not have the time to do it yourself.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 08:17 AM
Posts: n/a
Every time I've used my company travel agent I've ended up beating his fares through my own research. The only time I use him now is to reserve rental cars, because it just tends to be a little easier having him handle the paperwork -- but I always double-check the rates myself. In sum: Unless you have a great agent you've worked with before and trust, I would go the DIY route.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 08:46 AM
Posts: n/a
In Ontario, if I book a flight on my own and the airline goes under, I'm out of luck. If I book through a travel agent, there is legislation in place that means I will get my money back. Now, it's unlikely that Air Canada or the big airlines will go under (I hope), but I usually use a charter airline when I fly to Mexico or other points south. It's not necessarily a lot of money, but I wouldn't want to lose it. I do use a travel agent (usually one where I'll get a discount) to book the flight. I usually handle accommodations on my own.

Last year we used a Greek travel agent based here in Toronto to book our flight to Greece and around the islands. She saved me a bundle over what I could have gotten if I had booked on my own. (Olympic Air even advised me to go to an agent.) She booked some of my hotels, others I did on my own.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 08:46 AM
Posts: n/a
There are pros and cons to a travel agent. There are a lot of pros with a good travel agent. Until I started using AMEX Platinum Travel, I did not find any real benefit from a travel agent.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 10:19 AM
Posts: n/a
What about travel insurance? I haven't traveled that much, but also booked through an agent and got trip insurance through the agency. Planning a trip to Italy with the help of this board, and wondering how I get insurance to cover the whole trip (airfare, hotel, villa rental, car, etc) on my own? Is this possible? How do I do that?
Jul 2nd, 2001, 10:28 AM
Posts: n/a
Three travel insurance companies (all have websites)
Access America 800 284 8300 www.accessamerica.com
Travel Guard International www.travelguard.com

www.insuremytrip.com allows you to compare policies and quotes from up to five companies simultaneously. Site also has currency conversion and packing tips.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 10:32 AM
Posts: n/a
Check out www.insuremytrip.com for travel insurance rates. It lets you compare several companies.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 10:48 AM
Posts: n/a
I usually run my dates and destinations by a travel agent when looking for the least expensive air fare.
Sometimes they score, sometimes not. Occasionally, an agent has found me a much better air fare then I could have gotten on my own... or via the Internet... also a better flight path... (I don't mind a stopover but THREE I mind).
However I would never under any circumstances trust an agent to book my hotels, period... They simply, in my experience, at least, are not knowledgable on small, boutique style, family-run, hotels that I prefer... everytime an agent has offered me a hotel property, it's been some bohemouth "Sofitel" on the extreme outskirts of town, a chain hotel that caters to business clients. Also, I find that by a minimal amount of research, I am far more familiar with desirable location within a city, any guide book can provide you with dozens of inexpensive, atmopheric hotels.
I did once have an agent book my Eurail Pass, but I paid exactly the same as I would have had I bought them directly and it was even worse because she refused to mail them to me insisting I "stop by" the office to pick them up, at considerable inconvenience to myself.
(needless to say, she never got another call).
However when my mother, for example had to go back East for an Family emergency her agent was able to find her a great deal when no other last minute avenue she explored could.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 01:47 PM
Posts: n/a
Mary Ann: If your friend is paying her travel agent, tell her to find a new agent. TAs receive commission from the airlines/cruise lines/tour companies/hotels, etc.. Their services are FREE to customers. Occasionally there may be a SMALL service charge for something specific, like a train reservation, but these are very occasional and very inexpensive. If your friend is paying anything else, she is being taken. Travel agents are one of the few occupations that do NOT get paid by their customers.
Jul 2nd, 2001, 02:26 PM
Posts: n/a
I've always wondered about the economics of the travel agency business. If I buy a car, the salesperson gets a decent commission, and the dealership makes money too. If I buy a house, the real estate agents get 6% to share.

But if I call a travel agent, chat for 20 minutes checking options, and book an air ticket for, say, $300, the agent gets a puny $30. If he/she is really diligent and finds a fare for $250, then the fee drops to $25. Who can eat on that?

I've always gotten dreadful assistance from travel agents. You get what you pay for, perhaps. Maybe things are better at the high end . . . ?
Jul 2nd, 2001, 02:41 PM
Posts: n/a
Perhaps, Linda, one should expect to pay a travel 'agent' nothing. But then, one gets what one pays for, eh?

Travel 'counselors' do charge, and those that charge will typically do a better job than those who still depend on commissions. It's not at all unusual to find savings with an effective TC that exceed the charges. But, more typically, what one gets is just better-value travel planning.

Don't worry too much about job title semantics. But do understand that you want a skilled professional, with extensive experience and good references. If you can find this for free these days ... worry! If you find you have to pay a bit of a fee for professional counsel and assistance, why be surprised? Reduced commission rates, reduced fares ... and should you expect the TA to look out for YOUR interests if someone else is paying them?

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:44 AM.