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Is there any advantage to booking through a travel agent?

Is there any advantage to booking through a travel agent?

Jul 11th, 2006, 06:40 PM
  #1  
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Is there any advantage to booking through a travel agent?

We're planning a trip to Rome and so far the travel agents I've talked to have come up with deals similar to what I've found myself. I'm wondering if there's any reason I should book through an agent - aside from an added sense of security for myself?
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Jul 11th, 2006, 06:42 PM
  #2  
J62
 
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Haven't used a travel agent in about 20yrs and with all the info that's out there on the internet, including great places like fodors, I don't see a need. Researching a trip is part of the enjoyment of travel for me - and when I make mistakes I take full responsibility and hopefully learn from them as well.
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Jul 11th, 2006, 08:35 PM
  #3  
 
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With this board, the rest of the internet and all the guide books out there, the only reason I can think of to use a travel agent is laziness, lack of confidence (or smarts) or just not being concerned with the cost of things. I agree with J62. I have made mistakes, but when I used to use travel agents, so did they. Planning my own trip also gives me an insight into where I'm going that wouldn't happen if I had someone doing all the work for me.
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Jul 11th, 2006, 08:40 PM
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I don't think that everyone who uses a travel agent is necessarily rich, lazy, stupid, or lacking in confidence.

Time is an issue for some people. And some folk's brains just are not wired for what has to be done to plan a trip. I'm sure there are other reasons as well.
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Jul 11th, 2006, 08:52 PM
  #5  
 
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I use a travel agent to make the flight arrangements for my trips. He has consistently outpeformed my attempts to beat his prices.

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Jul 11th, 2006, 08:56 PM
  #6  
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Thanks for the info!

I guess I'm wondering if it's better to have someone "back home" working on your behalf if something goes wrong with a flight, etc. Maybe I'm just being paranoid...
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Jul 11th, 2006, 09:08 PM
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I am using a trip planner who has traveled extensively in Italy. I'm doing it for two reasons:

1) She has stayed in the hotels and taken the tours that she recommends. This is the closest I'm going to come to a guarantee that the hotel is not loud or smelly and that the tour guide does not mumble!

2) Things are so completely insane at my office right now that I simply can't take the time necessary to fax, email, call, and confirm all the details of an eight day trip. I like to have everything in writing and double checked. I won't have much time this year until the month I leave for the trip! I should miss seeing the Uffizi because I didn't have time to spit, let alone reserve tickets, the recommended weeks in advance? I think not

For me, adventure is setting off in a new city with map in hand and exploring. Adventure for me is NOT landing in a strange city after a long flight wondering if my hotel reservation is real or not.
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Jul 11th, 2006, 09:20 PM
  #8  
 
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For me I feel MORE confident having booked things myself directly. Sure I guess someone back home may (or may not) be able to assist but it seems more complicated imo.

You are *there* and they are not re dealing with airlines or hotel. I (may be kidding myself) but feel more in charge if I have dealt with each step directly and am there face to face as things go smooth, or problems arise, with my own hotel reservations (always direct with the hotel front desk) and airline tickets direct from the carrier.
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Jul 11th, 2006, 11:26 PM
  #9  
 
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Well, sometimes it is nice to call your travel agent and say something like "help", the airlines did this or that and I need new tickets now or a new hotel now, or something like that.

I used to only use a travel agent and she was always there in an emergency or any travel bump to smooth things out while I sat and waited while drinking a glass of wine.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 07:51 AM
  #10  
 
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While you are drinking your wine, is the meter running, or do the TA's consider any travel glitch part of the job? I get that some people are too busy to plan trips, thats why my DH has me! Honestly, some of it just comes down to what a person likes. I like the control of knowing what to expect and I guess I just trust my abilities to plan a trip. Having said that, you can't always bat 1,000. The most important thing to take on any trip is your sense of humor. It goes along way in helping you cope with any "travel bumps."
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Jul 12th, 2006, 10:07 AM
  #11  
 
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They consider the glitch a part of the job. This was before 9/11 and I know many TA's have gone out of business or have to charge for certain services now.

At the time I would just do all of my researching, figure out what I wanted to see and where to go and dumped the info in front of her. She knew my likes and dislikes and it was a pleasant experience.

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Jul 12th, 2006, 10:17 AM
  #12  
 
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It's a service just like having your car washed or house cleaned or lawn mowed. Of course you can do it yourself, but you also have the choice to hire someone to do that service for you. Nothing wrong with that.
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Jul 12th, 2006, 10:20 AM
  #13  
 
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I have used a travel agent a few times on my trips to Europe and in some cases I got the best price I could find with them.

A well traveled agent who has been in the business a long time can also answer many of your questions.

In my experiences they earned their money.

I just had an exchange student from Thailand and I saved over $200 on his return flight through an agent over what I could find on the Internet.

I would recommend checking both. Maybe you can save money and there is something special about talking with another human being.
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Jul 12th, 2006, 10:52 AM
  #14  
 
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If you can find a good travel agent (that is a big if, as many have left the business, and none of the remaining will admit to being a bad agent), and you are busy and don't have the time to plan your own trip, using an agent is sensible.

On the other hand, if you take the time to plan your own trip, your research will give you a much better understanding of where you are going and what you want to see. A travel agent will incline, I think, to recommend the sites that are most popular (and most crowded). That may not be what you want. For example, a travel agent will almost certainly recommend Versailles; my preference would be to spend the day at Monet's farm in Giverny.
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Jul 12th, 2006, 12:03 PM
  #15  
 
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IMHO the only benefit to using a travel agent to go to europe is if it's a corporate agent that you have free access to who can get you special (corporate) rates not available to individuals on air and hotels (and then it's usually only 4* or above) and has 24 hour support in case of problems.

Using a local travel agent will cost you their feew and usually provide no additional benefit - unless they specialize in europe and sell enough to get you better deals.
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Jul 12th, 2006, 02:22 PM
  #16  
 
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For a first-time traveler to Europe I think a travel agent can be a useful guide, especially if the TA really knows the region you want to visit and speaks the language of that country.

As someone else said, having someone back home who can deal with, say, an airline on your behalf when there's a problem is a real plus. We once had friends whose water-softener flooded most of the house; they couldn't get a flight sooner than 2 days when they called United, but the TA got them on a flight the next morningf: connections are handy.
Underhill is offline  
Jul 12th, 2006, 03:12 PM
  #17  
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Thanks for all the helpful advice! I think I'm going go it alone. I've been able to find better prices than the agents I've contacted, so I'm just going to cross my fingers that everything goes smoothly!
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Jul 12th, 2006, 03:27 PM
  #18  
 
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Like Wednesday said, it's a service - someone who will do for you what you don't want to do yourself.

I will say one negative thing about travel agents: We are a family of five and every agent I've ever spoken to ONLY suggests that we get two rooms at a conventional hotel. I always think a travel agent could make money by specializing in finding accomodations for larger parties. (Of course, many such accomodations would be apartments for which it might be hard to collect commisions.) I'll be the one to tell the travel agent, "Yes they have rooms with a day bed" or "They have sofa sleepers and can sleep 6."
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Jul 12th, 2006, 04:01 PM
  #19  
 
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Honestly, my negative impression of travel agents comes mostly from reading on internet travel forums (having never seen the need or advantage to use one myself) such as Fodor's or Trip Advisor.

People are often posting "my travel agent told me" followed by statements I know to be false or at least not very well informed or up-to-date.
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Jul 12th, 2006, 05:25 PM
  #20  
 
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"a travel agent can be a useful guide, especially if the TA really knows the region you want to visit and speaks the language of that country.</>"

Unfortunately, that isn't really very common w/ most TAs (at least Stateside ones). They are mostly glorified ticket sellers. Many TAs have never "traveled" - they tour on TA junkets, or w/ comps from airlines/hotels. A US TA might be able to tell you about large, famous or chain hotels in Paris or London or Rome. But a flat in Belgravia, B&B in Yorkshire, or agriturismo in Tuscany - they never heard of such a thing.
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