Do you use a TA for your travels?

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Jan 31st, 2006, 07:21 AM
  #1
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Do you use a TA for your travels?

How much do you use for TA? Or do you use internet sites for most of your planning? When does a TA come in handy? Do you always pay something for their services? If you use them for hotel, do they get PO'd if you don't use them for airline? As you see, I am TA ignorant. We are going to Paris for about a week and my TA, also a friend, is going to help me, but some of it I feel I can do myself. But don't want to annoy her, so any tips on TA ettiquit would be appreciated.
Heavens is offline  
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Jan 31st, 2006, 07:27 AM
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"...and my TA, also a friend.."

"But don't want to annoy her,..."

And therein, IMO, lies the potential problem.

She may be your friend but this is business and YOUR money and I strongly advise you not to forget that. Believe me, when it comes to it, she certainly won't. This is, after all, business.

So, I would tell her exactly what you want and see what she provides. If you feel you can "do better" on your own be honest and a REAL friend and tell her so. If she is a REAL friend in return she will be understanding.
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Jan 31st, 2006, 07:32 AM
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Paris is a one-city trip, easy to do on your own.

I book my own airfare, watching fares for a period to get a feel for what is 'normal' and what might be 'good'. I use the airline's website rather than a booking engine.

I book my own hotel - have tried a few on my own and a few thru a couple of tours we took years back, and have settled on an area we like and return to each time. I email the hotel directly and they email me back. They will use English but I try to use some French for fun.

I get some books from the library, or buy one-two guidebooks, a pen and a tablet and enjoy my coffee/wine while I peruse the books, listing sites/sights I want to include on my visit.

I take the list to the computer and use Google extensively to find websites about those places, their opening/closing times/days, location, nearest metro, etc. I put this into an Excel spreadsheet so I can sort it by 'arrondissement' and thus arrange my sightseeing by general location.

I've got a trip checklist that helps me keep track of plane/hotel/train reservations, important papers to copy, update the phone contacts page, get a housesitter, what to pack, etc.

If anything comes up that I have questions about, or want to know more about, I post it here and get great advice and opinions.
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Jan 31st, 2006, 07:32 AM
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I don't use a TA at all, but I might for some unusual or exotic destination, or places where I know that can be the best idea. None of those are Western Europe.

I think some TAs on here will chime in, or those who know them well, but my impression is that a TA is not going to get PO'd over airfare because they don't get hardly any commission on them anymore, anyway. They may get none. So, it's just work for them, and that's why they do charges fees for it. Just don't expect her to do research work for you and then book it yourself and not pay her for her time. Now, I know she is your friend so maybe isn't concerned, just wants to help you. I help out friends and family with travel and don't expect them to pay me nor do I begrudge the time, it's just kind of fun. If I did it for a living, I might feel differently.

Didn't she give you an idea when she offered to help what she had in mind? It would have been easy then to say something like, I'd really appreciate your help with xyz, but I think I can handle the air reservations on my own, or something. I don't think she would be offended (but who knows, you can find someone to be offended by anything) as that would relieve her of some work. It really depends on her personality, though. I could see some other folks getting annoyed that you thought you could do their profession on your own, or wanting control or something.
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Jan 31st, 2006, 07:39 AM
  #5
 
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Also, if you go to www.franceguide.com, you can order the Paris Tourist Office booklet "Paris for You", which is very handy, lists all the museums, etc with their address, hours, metro, etc. It's a lightweight booklet that is good to carry with you while you're sightseeing. The site will charge a nominal ship/handling charge.
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Jan 31st, 2006, 07:59 AM
  #6
 
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The question of using a TA or not has been discussed on the Fodor's Forums numerous times and quite frankly there is no set answer. Some people are very adept at making their own travel plans while other need someone to assist them. Usually those people who are new to travel, that are going someplace out of the ordinary or have complicated travel plans derive a benefit from a T/A. If, on the other hand you are an experienced traveller you can do just as well or better on your own. It really boils down to how comfortable you are with making plans and reasearching hotels, airfares, excursions, itineraries, etc. If you are computer savy, that's a plus. If you do decide to use a T/A find one who specializes in the type of travel and/or area you want to visit. For example, there are T/A who specialize in cruises, other who concentrate on one or two particular countries while others only do exotic destinations.

Lastly, I'd tread carefull when doing business with friends or family - make sure both you and your friend/relative fully understand each person's role and goals before you start otherwise you run the risk of alienating someone who would otherwise be close to you.
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Jan 31st, 2006, 08:26 AM
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I never use a TA for flights. Internet booking. Sometimes it's the price, sometimes it's the convenience of the schedule.

Hotel reservations? This is silly, why to pay a fee if I have enough time to search, know how to use the internet, it's cheaper this way, and I will call the hotel directly to confirm anyway, agent or not.

When I travel alone, I usually join a tour, and this is where an agent comes in. Affordable tours give me 10% land discount, that's why I buy tours through them.

You have Fodor's for planning, there is no travel agent in the world who can win over this website's knowledge!
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Jan 31st, 2006, 10:37 AM
  #8
 
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Have not used a TA in years. (The great one I was using changed careers - she was getting a divorce and needed to support herself instead of just using her salary for her wardrobe.)

So far - have not found another who has traveled nearly as much as I have - and would never use a TA - esp for a complicated trip (not a simple one like Paris) unless they had personally been to the destination and knew it well.
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