Taking (Or Giving) One For The Team!

So today, while browsing some travel chat forms I came across a question someone posted about if they should use a travel agent to book their vacation or just use the internet.

All prepared to step up to the plate and bat for team Travel Agents, I scrolled down to respond to the question. However, upon doing so I found that someone had beaten me to it. Their response was definitely a curve ball, but I swung anyway and I'm pretty sure I hit a home run because within only an hour I had three people contact me who had read the response and wanted to work with me on their next vacation.

The Question: "For your next holiday would you consider a travel agent or the internet?"

The Curve Ball Response: "Internet, for sure. The only thing travel agents are good for is sharing personal experiences, which may or may not be of value since everyone doesn't have identical likes, dislikes, preferences, or tolerance levels. And besides that, they usually charge a service fee."

My Swing: "I completely disagree with the person who posted before me because they are very wrong.

#1) Not all travel agents charge a fee! There are plenty out there that don't charge fees, and those that do will usually refund the service fee once you've booked with them because they are then guaranteed a commission and don't have to worry about not getting paid if you don't book with them. And on top of that, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. They all tack on a SERVICE FEE and you are doing all the real work!

#2) When my client went to Punta Cana, she forgot her voucher for the airport transfer (which she needs to give the driver as proof that it was already paid for). She frantically called me at 6:30AM from the plane which had boarded but hadn't taken off yet. I told her not to worry and while she was on her flight I faxed a copy of the voucher with a letter in both English and Spanish telling the company my client had forgotten her voucher and not to charge her. When she got off the flight the driver was holding the voucher in his hand waiting for them. THAT is what a travel agent is for. Not personal stories. A travel agent is someone who cares enough about their clients to wake up at 6:30AM and type up a letter in two languages and pay to fax it internationally so a client doesn't have to pay anything extra for a transfer to a resort. You will never get that with Expedia or Travelocity. With them, you're just another number. Another dollar sign. And I bet if you ever had a problem and needed to speak to your "travel agent" at one of those sites, you'd be stuck on hold at a call center waiting for someone to help you. Good luck with that.

#3) When you find that deal online, at the 4 star hotel with the huge pool at the gourmet restaurants and it's on sale for 75% off and you're so excited you decide to book it. You think about what a great deal you're getting, and then you arrive and the site failed to tell you the whole place was under construction that week and all the restaurants (except the buffet) are closed for renovation and the room your in is next all the noise. Well of COURSE you got a good deal online, the hotel is selling their rooms for as cheap as they can to still make money during the renovations. But how would you know that because you booked it online and on the website the photos looked amazing. Well travel agents would know that. We also have been to places and know that the cheap resort in Jamaica that looks like a great deal online really is a dump in a bad neighborhood and you should avoid it at all costs. We are a lot more than people with a bunch of cute travel photos and a map filled with pins showing where we've been. We are knowledgeable and constantly educating ourselves to better help you, the travelers, have the best vacation possible.

#4) Travel agents and hotel managers maintain close professional relationships. Hotel managers know they need to be on our good side in order to get us to book more guests at their resort, and travel agents know that we need the hotel managers on our side so they treat our guests well enough that they continue booking with us and return to their resort. We stay in contact with the hotels we send our clients to. I personally check in a week before my client arrives to make sure their reservations are in the system and processed and to request that they take extra special care of my guests. So when you show up to the hotel and your reservation isn't there because of some mix up with the booking company, and you tell them you booked it on the internet, they'll tell you to call that company you booked it with. And when you sit there in the lobby of your hotel racking up your international roaming and minutes trying to get in touch with someone to figure it all out, my client has already been escorted to their room with a bottle of champagne waiting for them.

So that is just my 2 cents and a couple of the many reasons to use a travel agent and not an internet site..."

I may have been a little mean about it, but in all honesty I am not sure where people get these ideas about travel agents being useless? We're honest, hard working individuals who love to send our clients on the RIGHT vacation, not the cheapest they can find. If you want a cheap vacation, by all means visit the roach motel on the rocky beach. The pictures looked great but so do photos of celebrities after they are airbrushed...

Just saying.

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