Just like everybody of my generation I love the Internet. It is extremely helpful in so many ways. There is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips (except for mine since I am the worst Googler ever!), and it serves us instant gratification. What shouldn’t the Internet be used for? Travel arrangements*!
There may be many who disagree with me, but I feel the art of planning a trip should be done face to face with a travel agent. Please hear me out. I know that the internet offers great sources of information. You can easily search for hotels and good travel deals, and you can get reviews and see pictures. What you cannot get is someone who has a vested interest in you having a great time!
The Trouble with Online Travel Sites
Here is what prompted this post. For Christmas, myself, my husband, my sister, her boyfriend, and my brother got my parents tickets to the final four college basketball tournament in Detroit (my sister’s boyfriend has connections), as well as a 1 night stay at a hotel in Detroit for the night of the final game. This hotel room was booked online well in advance. The rate looked great, so in order to make sure everything was set I called to confirm…TWICE! We gave the gift and they were ecstatic!
Fast forward to yesterday, about a week and half before the trip. My sister gets a call saying the room rate will not be honored and the room is cancelled. WHAT!! Between my husband and myself we were on the phone with the online company as well as the actual hotel for about an hour and half in total. This included multiple disconnections and many transfers to where I believe to be India. It was very frustrating and in the end (for now) it seems to have worked out. Now, if we had an actual building that we could drive to, and a human being we could see face to face it might have been a much more pleasant experience, but that was not the case.
Another example, my sister went on a vacation with her boyfriend. They booked through a reputable online site. They booked flight, and hotel. When they got to the hotel they were told there was no room for them! Now what? Yes you can call the online company, but personally I would rather get in touch with a trusted travel agent!
I have always made it a point to book with travel agents any time I travel. Even when I planned my spring break trips in college. I loved going to the office and talking it out. I loved that I didn’t have to search for the best rates, and flight times. I mean come on…how would I know that if I travel on a Wednesday rather than a Thursday it would be cheaper?? Or that the pictures taken and posted online were from 15 years ago and the property no longer looks like that? I wouldn’t, and that is what the travel agent does for you.
You can’t even truly listen to reviews. Everyone traveling is different. They have different expectations, and more often than not, if they went online to post something it will be bad. That is why when I travel I like to make good reviews along with any bad.
I do have to be honest. I find the actual travel agents themselves to be baffling sometimes. I find that a lot of them don’t actually want to do any work for your business. When planning my honeymoon I found many a travel agent that wouldn’t respond, or didn’t want to give me options. This was unacceptable.
I would like to commend Homeric Tours in Hicksville, New York. They planned our Greece honeymoon (it’s their specialty) and it was amazing! One of the best parts was that they had an office in Athens, so when we had any problem over there we were able to call them! Not to mention they were able to deal with me. This means that they answered my questions and e mails in a very timely manner, and to me that’s very important (I have a lot of questions). I would also like to commend my new travel agent. He is called Travel Tom and he works for American Express Travel. He planned our Dominican Republic trip this past January. He was extremely helpful, kept us with in our budget and again was very responsive. Not to mention he gave us his cell number and when we had problems with our flight he answered my call while on vacation himself! Now this my friends is the joys of a travel agent!
So now I dare you to tell me why online booking is better, and I hope you come up with something other than “it’s faster”.
Here are the travel agents I mentioned above. I highly recommend them.
For anywhere travel I recommend Tom email@example.com.
If you plan to travel to Greece I recommend Homeric Tours: 516-935-3400
“Travel agencies have been accused of employing a number of restrictive practices, the chief of which is known as ‘racking’. This is the practice of displaying only the brochures of those travel companies whose holidays they wish to sell, the ones that pay them the most commission. Of course, the average customer tends to think that these are the only holidays on offer and is unaware of the possible alternatives.”
“In the United States, most airlines pay no commission at all to travel agencies. In this case, an agency usually adds a service fee to the net price.”
The biggest reason I use the internet is because I get a very large variety of opinions on a place, not just one (the travel agent). Don’t be fooled, travel agents are salespeople. They work on commission. The greatest part about the internet and booking through internet resources is that you get REAL PEOPLE’S opinions. It’s not people trying to sell you anything, just people who want to tell you what they thought.
I get that travel agents are sales people, and I get that they add service charges, but I also know that so far every trip I’ve booked I have checked the same trip on expedia as well as orbitz (other sites as well)and the price I recieved was cheaper.
Also, I am a salesman myself. There are alot of online companies that can sell what I can sell. What do I tell my customers? That I offer “value added” products. Meaning that yes they can order online, and yes a price may be cheaper..but that online company does not have a face or a name and is not always looking out for your best interest. That’s how I feel about travel agents. Especially the 2 I mentioned in the post. If there were extra fees it was worth it to know in Greece when we had airline trouble we had someone to call to fix it, and in the going to the Dominican when our flight was delayed we had someone to call to give us advice. To me that is worth ALOT!
Thanks for the Travel Agent information! 🙂
Completely agree Jen. I like doing some web surfing to get an idea of pricing and whats out there and just for fun…but I always book with an agent. I’d be a wreck not having someone to call if there were problems!
Problem with travel agents is they only sell you what they can make money on.
We had 2 disastrous experiences about 10 years ago and gave up. One sold us a package to an “all inclusive” in Jamaica, where we learned that we were subsidizing the guests who dumped their kids and sat and drank by the pool all day – our worst trip EVER.
The other was a gal who insisted on booking us in to a Best Western wherever we went, even though I told her there were other interesting places to try. We gave up our deposit with her agency and I booked the entire 3 weeks on my own, by phone, before it was possible to do it all on the Internet.
So we will never, ever use a travel agent again. I so appreciate on-line reviews, and I make it a point to post my own reviews to keep everything current and open.
Happy New Year,
I guess it depends on the travel agent. I had one who refused to put me in a place that I saw was nice because he KNEW that it had gone down hill. I give him tons of credit for that. I guess you need to find someone you trust!
Travel agents can be reliable if they have travelled to the places themselves. However, if you have the time to research a destination, you’re better off looking for deals and places to visit yourself because you are not taking someone else’s word for good.
You got to really trust the travel agent before you hand over your hard earned cash!
I’ve done a lot of travelling, always organized everything by myself, and never once have I had a bad hotel experience. That is despite going for cheap hotel/youth hostel options.
I will never go to a travel agent.