Name of a good travel agent?

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Apr 26th, 2005, 12:45 PM
  #1
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Name of a good travel agent?

Does anyone know the name of a good travel agent who specializes in Italy and will be particularly helpful in coordinating travel from Naples up through Rome, Florence and Tuscany through to Venice with affordable hotel stays between in both the urban centers and more rural settings? Thanks!
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Apr 26th, 2005, 01:00 PM
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Rex
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Apr 26th, 2005, 01:04 PM
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BobtheNavigator as well...
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Apr 26th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Rex is a practicing physician and I am a trip planner---not a travel agent.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 02:43 PM
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What the above posters mean, is stick to this message board (Fodor's is the best) and with all the wonderful advice you can plan your own trip!! I'm planning my fourth trip to Italy and people now consider me a travel planner.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Don't forget Stu Dudley folks!
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Apr 26th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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My sarcasm didn't get through this time
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Apr 26th, 2005, 03:29 PM
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FainaAgain...I got it!

Sarah27...With a little bit of research, a travel guide, and this board I believe you will have a better time on your trip by doing it yourself. OKay, maybe a lot of research but hey, I think that is half the fun of going. And I think most people here would agree.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:15 PM
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Sorry, I should have known better.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Apr 26th, 2005, 04:27 PM
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Sarah, If you haven't figured it out by the responses so far, Fodors posters are generally a do-it-yourself bunch. Planning our own trips, like the one your describe, is a dream-come-true. Personally I have never used a travel agent (28 international trips to date).
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Apr 26th, 2005, 05:48 PM
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I've used a travel agent only once, several years ago, and my trip was a disaster. I think the other posters here are absolutely right. If you post specific questions, and narrow down your itinerary, you'll get all the help you need (and more!)right here on the forum.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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Sarah and other posters,

I have to take a moment to "defend" my profession - there are tons of people on this board who are capable of planning their own trip, they enjoy the whole planning process, and probably could BE a travel agent if they so chose (or a travel writer, as there are some very wonderful trip reports, which I enjoy reading).

That said, many people (bless 'em) would prefer the services of a professional, and by that, I mean a GOOD agent, not one who's just out to do your one trip, take your money, and never expects to hear from you again...the agent that hopes to have you for a client for a lifetime. These are the agents that are going to work FOR you and WITH you.

Many clients don't have the time or inclination to sort through "X" number of websites and spend hours researching a trip. (and let's face it - anyone can make a website look good).

This is the satisfaction we receive from our job. Any good agent takes this seriously. Sometimes I'm working with clients who've saved for years for the "trip of a lifetime" and I think that's a big responsibility and not to be taken lightly.

Many people don't really understand how an agent is paid and believe they'll be charged more. This isn't the case. We work with consolidators for airfare (and in most cases I can find airfare for less than anything on the net) and wholesalers who have bulk rates because they deal in high volume, and sometimes work with sometimes the resort/property directly, it just depends on the situation.

Someone on the board suggested Sally Watkins, who I know from a Travel Agent Digest. This Digest has over 3,000 agents and we network with each other. It's a daily posting, and we hear what tour company is having problems, who might be going bankrupt, etc., so it's a valuable insight into the "behind the scenes" of the industry.

No one can claim to know everything about any one given destination; otherwise I wouldn't be checking out this board! I always learn something new and I appreciate it and love reading people's posts. But for people who are just overwhelmed, limited in time and want the services of a professional who has industry contacts, many trips to a specific destination, and years of service, don't discount a good travel agent!

Regards,

Melodie
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Apr 26th, 2005, 07:07 PM
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Melodie...I don't think anyone here was saying travel agents are not good. I think what we said is that the experience of doing it yourself would make the trip that much better.
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Apr 26th, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Hello Melodie, I have read your post before and I believe that you are a top travel agent. I unfortunatly have never found one. Even when I looked for an agency in SF.

I started planning all my trips way before the www. Then after I sold my insurance agency I did one year of marketing for an airline. Then I worked for a new travel agency in the town I lived in. You would have been so disgusted with the service this agency did not give. I sure was. The agency btw was out of business within a year. Guess it was one of those cases when the woman that started it had no business head (profession was in a complete different line of work)and thought if she owned her own agency she would get tons of free trips. I am sure at this point you are smiling to yourself, right?

Anyway, long story short, I am sure a lot of us would love to have someone make all the arrangements for our trips if they were qualified as you are. I, and I have noticed other posters here mostly women, indicate they are always their families TA.

I owned an Independent Insurance Agency for years and worked like you know what to make sure our clients had the proper service they were entitled to. And bought other agencies out that could not make it because of their lack of service. And still hear stories from people I know regarding their displeasure with their insurance agent, and with good reason.

So I sure understand what you are saying. Your clients are fortunate!

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Apr 27th, 2005, 08:38 PM
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Dejais,

Thank you, and I DO understand what you're saying. Admittedly, I'm a bit senstitive on the subject! I don't know what you do for a living, but I bet if someone came into your job and said they could do it just as well after you'd spent your hard earned time, years of experience, and money perfecting your profession you'd feel the same. I just wanted people to know that travel agents can save clients money and time if they so choose to use their services.


LoveItaly,

Thanks for the kind words! I'm sorry to hear that you had such a hard time finding a good agent -- I've heard this before from people and it's really sad. That said, I know this can happen in any profession (hell, I'm still trying to find a good dentist after mine retired)!

Yes, I WAS smiling when reading your post. I know EXACTLY what type of agency you're speaking of, and the kind of person.

You're so right about being disgusted! Before I started my agency I used to work for a very very large cruise-only agency. The things the owner did was unbelieveable. Here's one example: a typical deposit on any cruise would be $200 per person. We were told to tell clients it was $400. If the client said "but I have a brochure and it says $200"...we were instructed to say that because we had discounted rates, our contract stipulated a higher deposit. Now, many people would book 9 months in advance. That meant the owners had an extra $400 on that reservation that they banked and made interest off of it for 9 months!

I'm happy to say they're out of business too; but they also have a huge mansion in Atherton as well!

There was a whole influx of people with various backgrounds who decided to change careers and got into the business for the perks (and believe me, the days of agents getting free trips, etc has long since passed).

We had a local agency that was taken over by a guy with a computer background. He had no travel experience at all; just thought he'd rely on the experienced agents and be able to travel the world with his friends and family for free. It's sort of like those "card mills" where they tout "you too can be a travel agent - just send us $399 and we'll give you this magic card that will allow you free airfare and hotels". Yeah right!

That is SO funny that you mention the profusion of women acting as their families travel agents. So true. I see this on a daily basis.

Even funnier, I get the "Honeymoon Crisis". The woman is making 10,000 decisions and arrangements and the husband-to-be has about 3 jobs: get your teeth cleaned, order a tux and arrange the honeymoon. So there's nine months before the wedding and the guy calls a month beforehand, panicked, and wants me to pull a bunny out of my hat! I have NO idea what he's been telling her for months...
I suspect "it's a surprise"! Yes..to him too!

Regards,

Melodie
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Apr 27th, 2005, 11:08 PM
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Hi Melodie, I love your "honeymoon crisis" story. Too funny!

BTW, you mentioned Atherton. Are you in California? If so, may I ask which city you are located in.

Take care.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 01:50 AM
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Melodie, since you mention Atherton--does this mean you are in the Bay Area??? If so, please let me know, so I can send my email adderss- if you are willing to tell me how to contact you or give your name ot my friends who don't enjoy, as I do, spending hours planning their trips! Thanks.
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Apr 28th, 2005, 02:36 AM
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CaliNurse, that is what I was thinking. I have friends that are hopeless when planning trips. They are always asking me. Some family members do too. So I had the same thought, so Melodie if you could "sneak" in the name of your agency, assuming your are in California that would be great. You would not be advertising, but just answering our questions, right?
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