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Do I really need a travel Agent?

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I have an awesome TA...  I don't use her to get perks or "extras"...  I use her because of the service she provides at no extra cost.  I am currently in Peru on an Avalon trip.  We booked 3 nights extra in Arequipa to start.  We ended up missing our connection in Miami -  which meant we wouldn't make our flight from Lima to Arequipa.  I e-mailed her at 4:30 am to ask her to change the booking for us.  She was on the phone with me at 9 am sharp to work out the details.  By 10 am we had a new booking, and e-mails with the new ticket info.  She has also started a file to assist us with the insurance claim when we get back.  Could I have done that on my own?  Absolutely...  But I didn't have to with her being available to support me through this process.

 

Fran

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On 2/14/2019 at 10:20 PM, cruiselvr04 said:

We like you have very rarely used travel agents.  We’ve done over 35 ocean cruises and maybe used an agent for 5.  

 

However with a river cruise we are looking at a lot more money....I put out an inquiry’s to 3 agents.  One offered nothing but their experience and advice in return for the booking.  One offered $250.  I’m using the one who offered me $550.

 

i don’t need them.  I booked the cruise myself, called the line directly to book airfare and just before final payment (and less then 60 days from deposit) transferred the booking to an agent.  I like to control my own bookings but $550 was too good to pass up.  I wouldn’t give up control for nothing that’s for sure.  

 

If you don’t know where to go and what line to use then you need an agent.  It’s a big investment.  However some of us like to do our own research and know more then the agents!  I used a “advisor for river cruise” ( hint) for some comparison shopping and feel we got a decent deal and picked the right line for us.

 

My advice is to shop around if you want to use one.  

Sorry, but I 'm somewhat confused. You say that one TA offered you $250, and another offered you $500 (which you accepted). I've read that TA's charge travelers nothing, but instead charge the cruise lines. So are you saying these TAs offered YOU money to use their services, i.e., shared their commissions from the cruise lines?!

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7 hours ago, amishboy51 said:

Sorry, but I 'm somewhat confused. You say that one TA offered you $250, and another offered you $500 (which you accepted). I've read that TA's charge travelers nothing, but instead charge the cruise lines. So are you saying these TAs offered YOU money to use their services, i.e., shared their commissions from the cruise lines?!

Usually there is no charge to use a Travel Agent. We do have a local one who charges a booking fee and change fees. I refuse to use an agent who does this. 

 

There is a commission on the river cruise. If you book direct - the river cruise company keeps the commission themselves. If you book through an agent, they get the commission. Some agents are willing to "rebate some of their commission to you" which basically means they are sharing their commission with you (so they are making less money).

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We are charged nothing to use the travel agent.  After we complete the cruise our agent will give us $550 of their commission.  I'm sure one reason this agency does this is for repeat business.  This is why I shopped around. 

 

If an agent gets 8-10% commission on a trip they can afford to give back to their customer. Especially since I literally did all the work. (Unless there are issues that come up while traveling.   In that case I will be thankful to let them work out any problems. ) 

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We did not use a travel agent with Viking. Our only problem was that the person who booked us left the company shortly after we booked. They did not assign us to another person so, each time we called back we spoke to someone different. It was a bit annoying and every call took longer than it should but everything worked out fine.

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We do land travels through out the world and I make our own arrangements. But when planning a cruise with all the costs and arrangements in various countries I always use a travel agent. We get a better price on insurance, someone who will get back with me almost immediately. (I avoid contacting her on the weekends unless urgent). She works our air with great flights. She belongs to a consortium that has perks on some of the cruises. She will find great accommodations if we are unfamiliar with the location. And I know I have someone who will help us if there is a problem while traveling. 

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On 2/16/2019 at 6:18 PM, Coral said:

If I remember correctly - Vantage and Grand Circle only book by going direct (no travel agents)? Please correct me if I am wrong.

Yes, Vantage doesn't deal with TAs.  I have had success gaining additional discounts with Vantage over and above published rates.   Frankly, I like booking direct.   I used a travel agent a couple of times (not on a river cruise) and the benefits were very small.  Once, some years ago, I booked a hotel stay  with an online agent that went bankrupt and I lost a couple of hundred dollars.  

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3 hours ago, 4774Papa said:

Yes, Vantage doesn't deal with TAs.  I have had success gaining additional discounts with Vantage over and above published rates.   Frankly, I like booking direct.   I used a travel agent a couple of times (not on a river cruise) and the benefits were very small.  Once, some years ago, I booked a hotel stay  with an online agent that went bankrupt and I lost a couple of hundred dollars.  

I am sure the term small can be interpreted many different ways but the savings I have gotten from a TA has been worth it financially for me. I have not booked with Vantage yet though. I average about 10% with an agent off of the cruise fare.

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After the GOOD experience I had with my TA and the BAD experience I had which required some extra assistance, is it really that big an issue to book through a TA?  while my wife was answering questions in the Emergency Room of a hospital 4500 miles from home, my TA was working overtime to get her a rental car, hotel room, exchange on air tickets, luggage moved from one location to another (where we were not).  A river cruise generally travels through more than one country, some do not necessarily speak YOUR native tongue. I can't imagine trying to get our things taken care of if we had the accident in Germany or France or Spain.  Maybe my more continental European travelers would be better at this because they often speak more than one language, don't think that holds true for Australian travelers or UK. I would not want the daunting task of thinking all was in order but not sure if the language barrier had been broken.

I will still book most of my vacations by myself and my TA says that he really doesn't get involved unless it is a tour or cruise but I would sure hate to be stranded in a foreign country because I chose to save $500.00

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1 hour ago, doverboy said:

 

I will still book most of my vacations by myself and my TA says that he really doesn't get involved unless it is a tour or cruise but I would sure hate to be stranded in a foreign country because I chose to save $500.00

Though I don't think one should pay more to use a TA. 

 

I hope everything worked out for your situation. You do have a good TA.

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Posted (edited)

Tauck strictly prohibits discounting.  I searched for an agent who could provide a discount a couple years back when we went on Tauck for the Danube with two other couples.  He had promised a small rebate (in comparison to total cost) and then refused afterwards.  Never again will I use an agent with Tauck.  I like being in control (and he seemed to mess up a lot for our friends.)

Edited by stlrod

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, stlrod said:

Tauck strictly prohibits discounting.  I searched for an agent who could provide a discount a couple years back when we went on Tauck for the Danube with two other couples.  He had promised a small rebate (in comparison to total cost) and then refused afterwards.  Never again will I use an agent with Tauck.  I like being in control (and he seemed to mess up a lot for our friends.)

Many Travel Agents will write a check to you after your cruise or trip when the line doesn't allow discounting.

 

 

Edited by Coral

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2 hours ago, Coral said:

Many Travel Agents will write a check to you after your cruise or trip when the line doesn't allow discounting.

 

Hush!  That's a secret between the two of you. :classic_wink:

 

Also, for the poster worrying about Travel Agent default:  a good TA [e.g., mine...] enters your credit card info directly with the cruise line.  My money never goes through their hands. 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

 

Hush!  That's a secret between the two of you. :classic_wink:

Ok - I will then say "I read this on the internet so I assume it is true". I have no personal experience in this.

Edited by Coral

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I am our family’s cruise planner. I have booked cruises ranging from single cabins to ten cabins. I used  a TA once. I had to call her every time there was a price drop, then she called the cruiseline. No discounts or perks from her. She gave exactly the price on the website and no extras. I have called other TAs with different trips, and always found I could get exactly what they offered directly from the cruisline. I even had one TA tell me I would have to pay them a fee to book for me. I wish someone would tell me where to find the TAs that give all the discounts and perks!

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Ever mindful of the seasoned travelers, Do you cruiselines remind you to inform the State Department where you will be in case of an emergency? My TA booked our river cruise and we were able to make payments through him but the cruise was paid by his business when we booked which gave us discounted prices on the cruise

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I also do all the work and planning but go with a TA for the perks.  Our TA gave us $250 off the Viking cruise price, $150 cabin credit, and free travel insurance.  Once booked, I have been able to deal directly with Viking if I have a question or when booking flights using Viking Air Plus.  So far, there haven't been any downsides with using a TA. 

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On 5/2/2019 at 11:23 AM, mvjcruise said:

I am our family’s cruise planner. I have booked cruises ranging from single cabins to ten cabins. I used  a TA once. I had to call her every time there was a price drop, then she called the cruiseline. No discounts or perks from her. She gave exactly the price on the website and no extras. I have called other TAs with different trips, and always found I could get exactly what they offered directly from the cruisline. I even had one TA tell me I would have to pay them a fee to book for me. I wish someone would tell me where to find the TAs that give all the discounts and perks!

I wish we were allowed to tell you. CC strictly prohibits it. 

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13 hours ago, Got2Cruise said:

I wish we were allowed to tell you. CC strictly prohibits it. 

yes, prohibits it, BUT it really isn't that hard to find an TA that has online presence that offers perks that you will not get booking directly. 

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We haven't "needed" a TA YET...........kinda like insurance, in that having a TA working for us would be very welcomed should a major problem arise.

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Another way to look at this question is: "Do you need a CPA to do your taxes?"  After all, you have to collect all the forms and if you are an OCD-type [guilty!] you will buy TurboTax and run them through it anyway.  BUT -- imagine if the CPA would pay you and then take responsibility if the IRS objects.  That's how I see the value of a Travel Agent for me.

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In every case - I have saved money using a TA. I come out ahead than doing it myself.

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I hate using a TA (I want to do what I want when I want and not have to make a call or wait for someone to respond to my email). I only do it when I get $ back. Otherwise, I'm DIY all the time.....

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