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Mar 13th, 2012, 06:23 PM
  #1
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Travel Agent or On-line Booking for Lodging

Greetings!

We are working with a local (Orlando, FL) travel agent for a June trip to Paris. The airfare price was the same using the TA, but the lodging is coming in almost 20% higher. They recommended staying at the Citidines - Saint Germain and quoted $3,900 when I can get the same lodging on-line for $3,200. When asked about the price difference, they replied to be careful when booking on-line due to hidden fees. Anyone have an opinion on whether using the TA to book lodging is worth the extra $700?

Thanks!
Pirateat52 is offline  
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:27 PM
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Does the $3200 include VAT- 17.5%? It sounds like the hotel may have quoted the price without it.

If it does include VAT, I'd book it.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:29 PM
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Some travel agents or tour operators book a whole "package" to clients with marked up prices. I think that $700 is a heck of a mark-up unless you're getting some great perks and upgrades.

Some of that mark up may be based upon extra services they're providing - things that you don't have to do the legwork for, such as planning your whole itinerary, arranging tours or guides, etc.

Are you getting something like that?
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Mar 13th, 2012, 09:13 PM
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methinks you are being sold a bill of goods. First of all, Citadines is not all that great a property. The nonspecific "watch out for the boogeyman secret charges" scare tactic is a red flag.
Unless there is some complex and difficult issue you must contend with in arranging lodging, you will do better making your own arrangements. Smile nicely, take your airline tickets and leave to make your own online reservation. Take that $700 and have a great night (or two) out!
Seamus is offline  
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Mar 13th, 2012, 11:15 PM
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This is the deal. Travel agents do not work for free. Are you paying her a fee,, an hourly wage,, if not, how do you think travel agents make money. Hotels pay them commission ,, not all hotels will, usually chain hotels, or more expensive hotels.
So the price she gets from the hotel may be higher to cover the commision they are paying her,, or she may not be finding you the best rate.

I have not used a travel agent to book hotels in Europe for over 15 years now. I always book online myself. Its easy and you can find the best prices. I usually book directly with the hotel using their website, but have used hotels.com and a few other online booking companies. I have never had any problems.

If you find the hotel cheaper by going online to their website then book it, and yes, the tax is most likely already included . Their is sometimes a city tax of about a euro a day, no big deal. Read the rate charts, read the cancellation policies. Don't be nervous.. there is no secret a travel agent knows that you can't find out yourself. I would also google the name of the hotel and the word reveiws. read reviews on a couple of sites, most are fairly accurate. Look for the concensus.

Ask your travel agent if she has actually stayed at hotel , most likely she hasn't ,, so she has no more knowledge then you do, and you can always find out more!

I also think your ta is a liar. She has made that " hidden charges up",, if one can read a website one can easily find out what the charges are,, as I have said, I have personally booked at least 8 or 9 different hotels in Paris and have not had a problem.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 11:27 PM
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Of course a travel agent is going to discourage you from booking something yourself. That being said, there are some untrustworthy booking sites out there, but doing a bit of research can easily help you to avoid them. Most posters here book their own trips, and lots and lots of people book their own hotels and apartments in Paris. I don't think you'll have any problems if you want to make the arrangements on your own.

I agree with Seamus about the Citadines, though.
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Mar 14th, 2012, 02:56 AM
  #7
 
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Travel agents are useless. Now, a good travel consultant may be worth his/her weight in gold, but a typical travel agent just doesn't measure up.

Book it yourself.
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Mar 14th, 2012, 03:43 AM
  #8
 
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TAs have gone the way of the DoDo just scamming you for fees.

betterbidding.com priceline.com best deals
booking.com bes tno bid site for me

Always pay with CC NEVER any hidden charges for me.

Citadines are reputable ApartHotels worldwide
usually offer major discounts on the discounters.

hotelscombined.com another great comp site no hidden fees.

Go for it trip cover always wise.
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Mar 14th, 2012, 04:47 AM
  #9
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Thanks for the great advice! Now it appears we need to do a bit more research on where to stay. We are traveling with my 18 year old daughter so we are thinking we want a one bedroom ApartHotel. We did consider renting an apartment, but are concerned that we would be better with an ApartHotel with a staffed desk should we have questions.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Mar 14th, 2012, 05:14 AM
  #10
 
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The Citadines property is just fine and has a good location. I agree with you about having a staff to help with making arrangements, etc.
You could probably rent two hotel rooms for the same amount. Just something to think about.
YOu can do SO much on the internet now--TAs usually know SO little about the places they recommend--and are usually the higher priced hotels, etc. There are good bargains to be had if you shop and get recommendations.
Gretchen is online now  
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Mar 14th, 2012, 08:22 AM
  #11
 
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Nobody needs a travel agent to book a Citadines apartment. Nobody these days actually needs a travel agent for much of anything. You'd be throwing $700 right out the window. Not only that, for that kind of money you can probably find a FAR nicer apartment in Paris than Citadines could ever offer. If you do a search here on Fodors, you will find hundreds of threads about great apartments in Paris. (Not that Citadines isn't just fine, BUT there are more appealing options). Same goes for hotels. In all likelihood, your travel agent doesn't know beans about Paris.
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Mar 14th, 2012, 10:39 AM
  #12
 
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Citadines has a lot of advantages compared to private apt rentals, so that is a reasonable decision. You don't have the issues with private parties, advance deposits, no cancellation, etc. And there is a front desk for problems/questions/small issues if you need it, so it does combine apts with a hotel.

There is a wide variety of Citadines, though, they do vary by price, how "nice" they are and location.

But it is a major chain in France you can book on their website with no problems. You can also check www.booking.com as I believe they have Citadines among their offerings. Sometimes they have cheaper deals than the hotel/aparthotel direct, but often the rates are the same (depends on supply/demand, of course). If they are the same, I'd use Citadines' own website, even though I have used booking.com for a hotel in Paris with no problem at all. ON booking.com you can even limit results to Citadines properties to make it quick for checking, and you can see reviews. Their St Germain location is a lot more expensive than the Louvre locaiton, for example, which is more than the one at place d'Italie. The place d'Italie location is actually pretty convenient and there are lots of cheap restaurants nearby (and cinemas), I go around there and Gobelins area a lot when in Paris.

I am sure the travel agent just doesn't like people doing things on their own, but there are some cases where that could be true, although I've never seen that with hotels (more airlines who then try to charge for baggage or reserving a seat). By law, Citadines could not quote a price online without VAT. Hotel prices online include VAT, although occasionally they may not include the city tax (although it should be noted). that is trivial, however, around a euro a day.
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