Travel Agents

Old Feb 10th, 2001, 06:46 AM
  #1  
richard
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Travel Agents

Does anyone have a travel agent in the U.S., who knows Europe, and listens to their clients?? I'm really in the market for a good travel agent.
On my last trip to Europe, I used a travel agent who just about ruined my trip. Everything I asked for was ignored. The trip was a gift for my girlfriends graduaton, and we wanted to see art, eat well, and enjoy the nightlife of youth. The travel agent put us in WAY to fancy hotels that were more like self contained resorts for the locals---off the beaten path, and not what we wanted.
Recommendations will be appreciated
 
Old Feb 10th, 2001, 08:07 AM
  #2  
wes fowler
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Richard,
Hate to say this but the best travel agent to serve your purposes is yourself! Recognize that the professional agent is dependent upon commissions for a livelihood and will steer you to entities that offer the agent the best deal - best deal for the agent - not necessarily the traveler.
Particularly true nowadays since airlines have reduced the commissions paid to agents.
Are there capable, knowledgeable travel agents out there? Of course there are. How do you find them? That's difficult to say. Word of mouth advertising may or may not be effective; the person who raves about the service provided by his agent may have tastes and interests totally opposite yours with the result that he's happy, you're not.
Part of the problem with agents lies not with the agent but the tourist. The agent can't be faulted if the tourist fails to clearly and specifically outline his budget restraints, particular interests and desires, mode of travel, calibre of accommodations, all of which involve the tourist doing some preliminary research on his own.
You won't find too many postings here dealing with the merits of travel agents. Most of the knowledgeable respondents to queries here develop their own itineraries and research, research, research to satisfy their wants, then may utilize an agent simply to search for and book best fares, auto rentals and the like.
 
Old Feb 10th, 2001, 08:16 AM
  #3  
April
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First buy 2 or 3 good guide books like Fodors, Frommers, Rick Steves and really read them. This will give you a 90% picture of what you really want then when you go to a travel agent (and at that point any good one will do). You can tell them what, where, when etc. and the can just take care of the details. Good luck. PS I love to read the guide books a couple of times and compare info from one to the other then I know I have the best variety of info!!
 
Old Feb 10th, 2001, 08:28 AM
  #4  
Mariarosa
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Richard,
I know exactly what you mean about the travel agent sending you to self-contained resorts away from the city centers. I agree completely with Wes and April. Most travel agents use computer booking systems. These computer booking systems do not have the small, charming, central and well located hotels that you can only book by calling long distance, sending faxes or (in some cases) e-mailing. These smaller hotels also may not pay commissions to travel agents. Thus, for travel agents it does not pay to find and book these smaller hotels.

I went to a nearby AmEx office to ask about an AmEx promotion that I saw on the web (Pay for 1 night, receive one free at Summit Hotels). Unbelievably, the AmEx office did not even have the hotel in their computer system! The hotel I wanted is a historic hotel in the city center and the only hotels they had in their reservation system were new, modern, fancy hotels outside of the historic center with easy access to the highway.

Follow Wes and April's advice and get some guidebooks (Karen Brown's Guidebooks and Fodor's Hotels of Character and Charm are wonderful) and book the hotels yourself. I am not sayinng that travel agents are useless - I think for air reservations a good travel agent can be resourceful and for some destinations they are able to work with huge companies to provide "package deals."
 
Old Feb 10th, 2001, 09:22 AM
  #5  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
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Richard, You seem to be very frustrated with this planning process. I can assure you that a travel agent is not your answer---they are not usually well informed about details and they cannot afford to be objective. Since this is your honeymoon, I know that the experts on this forum would love to help. As Wes suggests, you can do this on your own with the right guidance from the experienced. I thought I had offered to help before.
 

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