Are there any good travel agents left?

Old Feb 17th, 2004, 03:37 PM
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Are there any good travel agents left?

Why is it that when I go and ask a travel agent a few questions none of them seem to know the answer.
I have asked a few travel agents in my area about airfare/tours/packages, etc each time the travel agent picks up brochures and starts browsing at them, asks their coworkers, tells me something outrageous, etc.
Are there any good travel agents left, or do they simply know nothing and are out to make commission after doing little or no work.
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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I don't know if this is a troll question or not, but in case it's legit, my answer is that looking for 'good' travel agents is a little like shopping for a watch. If you want a $10 watch don't expect great service and insight from the WalMart jewelry attendant.
If you're buying a $3000 watch you can well expect great service and advice.

The travel business has been radically re-shaped by the advent of the internet. Budget travel planning and even quite a bit of luxury travel planning is increasingly done by consumers on their own.
Commissions to agents have been cut back in many areas and eliminated in others. As such it's very difficult for an agent to make a decent living doing old fashioned planning of small vacations for people....so many of those agents have left the field.
Luxury travel agents still exist because they can make enough money that it's worth their time and effort.
But unless you're planning a trip costing several thousand dollars, it's getting hard to find good TA's.
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 03:59 PM
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It took me several years to find but I have an excellent travel agent. She was listed in Conde Naste best travel agencies for Europe and just happened to be in my area. She's been my agent for 8 years now and being from Belgium knows everything about Europe. Not to mention has been in the industry for 30 years.
My suggestion would be to find an agent recommended in a travel magazine or through virtuoso.com.
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 04:02 PM
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I am planning a luxury independent travel trip to Eastern Europe, we intend to spend about $ 4000 per person, plus airfare. I find that the travel agents in my area cannot even answer simple questions about visa requirements, when to go, etc. Most agents tell me that it cost alot to go, (with the do you really want to spend that much attitude), or that I must join an escorted tour simply because they (the TA's) don't know any other way I can go. I have enquired with about six travel agents in the last week. I am convinced that all six of them are brain dead. Sorry, to be so blunt. I am frustrated, I have never had problems like this with ta's. Until now, I have always been able to find a ta that would work with me and help me customize my holiday. Unfortunately, alot of travel agents have closed and this is the result.
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 04:38 PM
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Couldn't agree more with the previous posters. Yes, there are good travel agents out there. Most of them have gotten out of the business because the pay is so poor.Have you asked others who they use? Called the Chamber of Commerce where you live? If you get bad vibes, by all means walk away! Perhaps the poster who mentioned a good agent from Conde Naste is right on track.

I think you went into the wrong agency. How rude to hand you brochures ..anybody can do that!

Try this website...it lists agencies and specialties: www.astanet.com

Good luck!
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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For a great agent see:
http://www.virtuoso.com/
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 05:05 PM
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www.lutetiatravel.com
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 09:09 PM
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Justshootme, I can give you my travel agent's phone number, but please only call if you are serious. She is an excellent TA and had gotten me upgrades every time I have stayed at the four seasons and takes good care of us. Cheers. You may contact me through my email above.
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Old Feb 17th, 2004, 09:32 PM
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I think not.

We haven't used travel agents much since "going online".

Just after that, I wandered into a travel agency I'd used many times. I told the "next available agent" we were interested in a tour of Ireland. She said, "How can I help". Then, proceeded to hand me a stack of brochures, saying, "Come back when you've figured out what you want to do."

The next year, I happened to be off work one afternoon, and was wandering down the main street in our home town, when I noticed a blackboard outside a travel agency. I went inside, waited my turn, then gave the "next available agent" our dates, preferred flights/airline, the hotel we'd decided upon. She said, "Could you come back some other time? We're getting ready to close". She did not even offer me a business card.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I might change careers and become a "reliable travel agent". After researching the requirements (and cost), along with the income opportunities, I scrapped that plan...
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Old Feb 18th, 2004, 03:23 AM
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Agree with txtravelpro... definitely go with a Virtuoso agency. You won't be disappointed!
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Old Feb 18th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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Just be aware you don't just go to the website and enter your zipcode to find a Virtuoso agent. You're going to be both screened and entered on a data base. Just so you know.
 
Old Feb 18th, 2004, 05:23 AM
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I have a very close friend who is a travel agent. When she took her husband to Paris for his 50th birthday, she had me plan the trip. Al she knew about Paris was what the brichures tell you. The only hotels they use in her agency are the ones that pay the highest commissions.
The industry seems to be one of brochure pushing and filling blanks on the computer. She also contends that internet prices are much lower then what she can get people. She keeps her travel agent license just for the benefits she can get.
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Old Feb 18th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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jsm....I have friends whose parents have contacted Abercrombie and Kent for referrals......abercrombieandkent.com...of course, A/K would undoubtedly refer you to a Virtuoso agency if there is one in your area.Where are you?
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Old Feb 18th, 2004, 07:28 AM
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Simple economics of the current travel market dictate that there are two types of agents. The "agents" who have never been anywhere and know nothing about geography, culture or anything outside of Orlando - and are free. Or real travel agents who are knowledgeable and well-traveled with significant experience and great contacts - who will do a wonderful job putting together a trip for you - as long as you're willing to pay the fee. There are several ways to locate the latter - as noted above - and also I suggest recommendations for friends who travel and this board. Just don;t confuse the latter with the former - who know nothing beyond packages to Orlando or Cancun (I once had one insist that the only St. Petersburg was in Florida!).
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Old Feb 18th, 2004, 11:24 AM
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mrsbu: Perhaps your friend arranges only corporate travel. The agency in our building only handles corporate accounts. The girls that work there know nothing about cruises, tours etc. I hope this is the case with your friend ..."The only thing she knows about paris are what is in the brochures". That is a sad statement. I beg to differ on the internet...hotels, air etc are competitive. A good agent will look on hotel sites, tour sites etc and book there as well. At least my agent does. I've compared her prices to those on Expedia, Travelocity etc and her prices are better. They belong to a travel consortium that gives pretty good discounts.
SO, don't write off all agents justshootme...they are out there. I'm sorry you have had bad luck..hang in there!
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 10:33 AM
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justshootme, you don't need a travel agent. You need a specialist.

Nowadays only agents with a specialization are making a great living being a TA.

Find an agency that specializes and they'll find you an agent.

Contact Pisa Brothers Travel in NYC. They are a virtuoso agency and handle all of my big trips.

Also, your agent doesn't have to live in the same place you live. Mine certainly doesn't.
 
Old Feb 19th, 2004, 10:43 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback, I will look into the suggestions made here. Thanks again.
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Old Feb 19th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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Had to laugh at the watch analogy, because I worked part time for a jeweler during my college years and I spent a good portion of my time packaging and mailing newly purchased $3,000 - $10,000 Rolex watches to the Rolex repair facilities. They were chronically five minutes slow, and if someone in our store ever arrived late for work, the inside joke was that they were on "Rolex time."

Our watch repairman once commented that Rolex was a watch company that was resting on past laurels, that the watch movement was inferior and people were now only paying for the 18k gold and the Rolex name. A $100 Seiko was a better watch than a Rolex, in his opinion.

I could make the same observations about the travel agent industry resting on past laurels and doing little to keep up with the changes in today's world. Paying a great deal of money for something does not necessarily insure good quality or service.
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Old Feb 20th, 2004, 06:12 AM
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I'm sure there are good travel agents out there, but I just can't seem to find them. I had one travel agent who booked me in a horrible hotel, another who insisted something was in our package because she had checked even though I kept pointing out it was "not" included on the printout from the hotel (it wasn't either grrrrr. The last time I used a travel agent was when the Disney ships first came out and "I" informed her when the ships were being delayed.

Currently, I just called an agent from a highly reputable agency to help me put a package together for Hawaii. This time around the hotel price in the package was higher than prices listed on the hotel's own website for the SAME type of room (yes, even after adding taxes).All the agent had to say was "Well, you can't stay in that hotel any cheaper than that". Umm, yes you can which is why I went ahead booked directly with the hotel. I know an agent has a better chance of getting upgrades, but please, at least offer me the same base price as the hotel itself and let me make the decision about upgrades! Anyway, I told the agent, thanks, but no thanks and that's why I recently posted a message about summer fares.

I have nothing against travel agents, but for whatever reason, I haven't been able to find a good one and after this recent experience, I'm tired of trying.
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Old Feb 20th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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Cats...Just a note about "package" rates, really to anywhere...Hotel package rates are negotiated months in advance by the various tour companies.And the rates are fairly constant.So the rate your agent was quoting you was set in stone and what you saw online was up to the minute.Some agents do not use the internet as a resource mainly because they by and large will not earn a commission for booking on the net.I doubt that any travellers would pay an agent a fee for booking an internet rate they could very well get for themselves.I hope this helps.....S
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