To Use a Travel Agent or not?

Old Aug 28th, 2000, 05:36 PM
  #1  
Novice Traveler
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To Use a Travel Agent or not?

I'd like to know how all you savvy travelers make your travel plans. Do you use a travel agent or do you make your own arrangements via the internet or phone? I really like having a hand in planning my trips, so I am reluctant to give it all up to a second party, especially one who also charges for the service. Are there some web sites that are better than others for buying plane tickets to Europe? In the past, I have checked out the fares for U.S. travel on a particular site, then called the airline to book directly from them. The trip I'm currently planning is from Boston to France and/or Belgium. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 02:10 AM
  #2  
love2trvl
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NT:
I make all my own arrangements for two reasons. I can only blame myself if I do it wrong and if I have a grand time it is because I did it on my own! Seriously, I found I ever need to know by doing my own research and then planning accordingly. Have a great time!
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 02:59 AM
  #3  
arjay
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Have to chuckle - I'm with the first poster: If there's something I don't like about a trip, I want it to be MY fault! Our travels don't compare with some of the hi-miled vet Fodorites around here, but we've made three overseas trips - (of 2 and 3 week duration, to UK, Ireland, France) - and the only time I used a travel agent (in 1984), the one and only hotel reservation she'd made...got screwed up and there was no room for us. If you're an indy-minded traveller at all, read, read, read and then trust your instincts.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 04:07 AM
  #4  
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How about booking flights? Do most people book them themselves? Where are the best deals on-line?
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 04:11 AM
  #5  
Donna
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I do the planning myself, particularly choosing hotels. However, while I shop online for flights, I always book them with a local travel agent. They know what they're doing when it comes to booking flights. If you make a mistake booking online, you're stuck. But, I ALWAYS call the airlines directly and double check everything.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 04:27 AM
  #6  
Susan
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For many of my trips, I do all the planning myself. For my upcoming trip to Greece and Turkey (we leave Saturday!!), I've ended up using a travel agent for much of it. We live in Toronto, which has a large Greek community, so there are numerous Greek travel agencies. When I started to look around for flights, I called Olympic directly. The rep warned me that the fare was outrageous (almost $2000 CAD), but told me I could get a much deal through an agent. Sure enough, when I dropped by a travel agent, the fare was $1100 CAD. I then checked other options (charters, etc.) because I had some concerns about Olympic, but ended up booking with them. I then did all my own research as to where we would go, where we would stay, etc. The agency did get some good prices on hotels (as good as I would have gotten through the internet), so I have used her for some of them. Some of them (the Turkish part of the trip) we're leaving to chance, so I think we have a nice mix. Just 4 more days to go!!
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 05:12 AM
  #7  
mm
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My husband and I do all the planning. Depending on where we're going we sometimes take care of all the air transportation and hotel bookings (especially when we're using frequent flyer miles for the airline tickets)and sometimes we use a travel agent because they can get us the best rates. Most of my international flights are booked through a travel agent because I get the best prices through them.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 05:21 AM
  #8  
Peregrine
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Only reason to use a travel agent: if you're going on a cruise, and maybe not then.

We used a travel agent for part of our trip, did the rest ourselves. The difference was stunning -- travel agent got us booked into areas of the cities we didn't want to be in, where the response of the hotel and tour managers to us was cold at best, and left us with a lot of our own legwork to do when it came to cashing in vouchers for trains, etc. What we booked ourselves was in the right part of town; the response from the personnel was warm; and we had a much better time.

Travel agents have little vested in making your trip good unless you are going on a cruise, because that's the only part of their job where they actually get a substantial kick-back/commission. Airlines now make it unprofitable for them to book tickets. And the only time they really make money on hotels is when the hotels are part of a tour/"discount group" (don't know the correct term - but you know it because they're listed in a glossy brochure the agent gives you) -- and I can tell you those hotels are very likely to be in that group because they are located at some distance from where you want to be or are otherwise less desirable than more independent ones.

We're going again this year, and even though it has taken some time to do the research on-line and in the guidebooks, I've done all the arranging by email, phone, and FAX, and I'm very happy with the itinerary -- know it will be good.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 06:53 AM
  #9  
s
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Mr./Ms. Traveler,
I'll add another reason to use a travel agent: last-minute travel. Last July I decided to travel in August, and my destination was holding a rare regional fest. The travel agent had the headache of finding a hotel room & flights (w/upgrades!). However, that's the only time I'd use one. I enjoy doing the research, finding hotels, imagining my days, then making it all happen. For buying air tickets, try the airline's website. After you find the cheapest fare, go to that airline's web site and see if you can get an additional web-deal promotion. Delta's giving away 10,000 miles for web purchases to Europe.

s
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 07:02 AM
  #10  
elvira
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I do all the planning and research myself, and use a local travel agent to do the bookings. He's been able to find cheaper flights (like uncommon departure cities with special fares) and can advise on better flights (which ones are notorious for late departures, flights that are crowded, etc.). *HE* issues the ticket, so if there's an error, I got a real human - and physical address - to contact. If I need to change something, I'm not calling an 800# and talking to a different rep each time - I got one guy I talk to. A couple of times, we've bought a package (like Malta, airfare/apartment inclusive), and ran it through our travel agent. He knew the right questions to ask, what to look for, etc.

Another advantage - he's got connections, like getting 'non-refundable' tickets refunded, or finding seats on booked flights.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 07:06 AM
  #11  
Rex
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As Elvira points out, building a relationship with a good travel agent can be a big plus. Especially if you travel often, make it your goal to tryu to "out-know" the stuff your travel agent knows - - then count your lucky stars when (s)he teaches you something you never heard of.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 08:07 AM
  #12  
Art
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Susan, I flew with Olympic airlines 2 years ago to Greece and it was a great flight. The only detraction was that there was a smoking section and of course that filters through out the entire plane.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 10:12 AM
  #13  
SharonM
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I do all my arrangements myself.
... and, yes, I'm a travel agent...
If you have the time and inclination, planning your own trip can be very informative and fun. Naturally, I cannot spend days and days and hours upon hours finding the "perfect" hotel for $60.00 a night for clients, especially without charging a service charge. After 15 years in this business though, I may have some pretty good suggestions and knowledge. While it IS true that these days we primarily stay in business due to cruise and tour bookings, we also offer our experience and expertise in these, as well as many other areas of travel. We are not responsible for weather, late flights, rude people, bad food, fights with your boyfriend, etc, etc...
Bottom line is if we do a good job, people come back.
Peregrine, sounds like you either did not have a very good agent or did not stress your needs adequately...
If and when various problems do occur, a (good) agent will do what they can to find out what can be done to remedy the situation.
You may have to pay a $15.00-$20.00 service fee, but in the end you might save hundreds and save hours of time doing so. It's up to you.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2000, 04:29 PM
  #14  
tothetop
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topper
 
Old Aug 30th, 2000, 04:35 AM
  #15  
anon
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The best of both worlds is to do it both ways. I do my research, ask the agent for imput, do all the "leg work" and then tell her what I came up with and listen to her suggestions/advice - especially if she has been there, done that! It's a two way street! She double checks prices/flights/etc (and "unpublished" specials) and then books! But not flights with FF miles ... After all, even tho it may not be a big fee, she at least earns something for the time and work she did! She will also keep me up-to-date with any airline changes of times, flights which the airlines don't always do and if there is a "hitch," she is ready to fix it up ... and I don't have to spend hours on hold from some little outpost somewhere! Also she will call when something really "special" for me crosses her desk!
 
Old Aug 30th, 2000, 04:50 AM
  #16  
Jen
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We book everything ourselves! Air to hotels to tours. We're pretty picky and find that we can plan what we like better than anyone else. We read, read, read and talk with family and friends that have either been or lived at our destination. And, of course, use the 'Travel Lounge'!

As a note, when it comes to really local arrangements - a good concierge becomes priceless! From dinner ressies to theater tickets - they are the people to talk to!
 
Old Aug 30th, 2000, 04:53 AM
  #17  
Tom
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I'm with Anon. A combination is the best way to go on big trips. I always research a destination and think about what I would enjoy. Then I go to my travel agent and let them provide additional suggestions. The important part is finding a travel agent who has actually traveled alot. Mine has and has very strong opinions. We may not always agree and I have the final say on what is booked, but advice is more than welcome. I can't stand travel agents who simply go along with your suggestions and provide no value added.
 
Old Aug 30th, 2000, 05:03 AM
  #18  
Lisa
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I do my own planning. My situation is different than most. My son uses a wheelchair. I have found most travel agents don't have a clue about wheelchair accessibility when it comes to hotels. I look up the tourist information on the internet - make copies and then I e-mail the hotels directly. So far they have been quite helpful. I have even gotten lower rates doing this than using the internet or a travel agent. I have even purchased airlines tickets on the internet.
 

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