Travel Agent or Travelocity? You decide...


A lot of times potential clients come to me asking why my services as a Travel Agent are different from the services of online agencies.    Since I find myself answering this question often, I decided to post a list for clients and potential clients to read and understand.  

1.  Because I feel that personal attention and professionalism should go hand-in-hand.  I choose to keep my business relationships more personal, yet I also strive to maintain a higher level of professionalism when it comes to customer service in the travel industry.  I would much rather share a professional friendship with my clients, than view them just as my customers.  

2. Because why should you do all the work and let them get all the profit?  With big named agencies it can be very impersonal when you are doing all the work by yourself.   You could spend countless hours searching, planning, and booking with their site's tools,  and in the end all they had to do was sit back and wait for you to book so they could get a nice chunk of commission off of your booking.  To me, that doesn't sound fair at all.   Commission should be earned not handed out!   This is why I offer my vacation planning services for free.   You may not know where you want to go, so instead of searching on their sites for places to travel to, just ask me and I can find the same deals or even better and book them for you.  Meaning you don't have to spend hours searching a site or waiting on hold just to speak to a live agent.  You get your own personal vacation planner who knows you, cares about you, and makes it their business to make sure you have a great vacation!  

3.  Because everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone fixes them.  One of the biggest problems big companies have are that their customer service is very poor.   If for any reason a mistake is made in your ticketing (maybe a misspelled name or incorrect date of birth) you will need to contact a live agent to fix it.  Not only is it brutal trying to get through to one, but once they are on the phone you could wind up in a horror story of your own.   For example, CNN's Travel Troubleshooter reported two recent articles on this issue with two of these companies.  Click here for Article One on Expedia  and for Article Two on Travelocity.   

4.  Because no matter what these companies brag, they do not have the best price guarantee.  Some sites claim they have the lowest prices, and when looking at their vacations compared to other sites they actually may appear to have a better deal.  However, no matter what these sites say, they do NOT have the best prices.  Truthfully, the best prices can only be found directly with the supplier (hotel, airline, rental company, etc.).  In fact, at times, these companies can charge you MORE than a supplier directly.

5.  Because who really wants to deal with extra fees and penalties?  Some companies pride themselves on being cheaper, but in actuality they hide behind their fees.  For example, when you are looking at prices per night at a hotel it may say $100 a night, but when you actually tack on the fees, it could be $120.  The same goes with these companies, except they also charge you ridiculous cancellation fees and sometimes even a BOOKING fee.  So this means you are paying a booking fee for booking your own vacation.  No thank you!  

6.  Because they make your reservations via FAX while we speak directly to a hotel staff member!   I always want to make sure I speak to a live person working for the reservation department of the supplier.  I've heard stories from people who made a reservation with an internet site and the company never confirmed with the hotel yet still charged them!  So when they arrived at the hotel they had no record of the reservation.  The clients had to attempt to get a reppresentative on the phone to solve the problem but it was to no avail.  The end result was that the clients actually lost their money.  I could never imagine having this happen to myself, let alone my clients.   When I book a client, I speak directly to the hotel, airline, etc, and make sure there are no mistakes.  This is to avoid any discrepancies that may result in the client being unsatisfied with my services, as well as their overall vacation experience.

There are countless more reasons why online sites can be more of a hassle than a help.  So next time you find yourself typing Priceline into the search box, stop yourself and contact me instead.  I can guarantee you more than a better price, but a better overall experience, and a professional friendship.  With My Paradise Planner, everyone is treated like a VIP!


Kira Solomon

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