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icu222much

Do Travel Agencies Matter?

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I have found two travel agencies that have the same price for the cruise I want (Oasis of the Sea for Dec 2020). The only difference is that my local travel agency is offering $50 less on board credit then the agency I found on a website where I post which cruise I am interested in. This other agency is located in Maryland, USA. My local agency has been around for 30 years where as the one in Maryland has had their domain name registered for the past 5 years.

 

I know exactly which cruise I want, and I am planning to book my flights, excursions, hotels separately closer to the cruise date with any company that offers me the best rate. I am interested in trying to save as much money and don't need the travel agencies to suggest me hotels, flights...

 

I am wondering if there is a difference or any issues I can run into if I book with one travel agency vs another. Issues I am worried about is if the agency in Maryland would somehow scam me, or that they would make a mistake with my booking. Note that this is my first time booking a cruise.

 

TLDR - I'm looking to save as much money as possible, and I know exactly which cruise, hotel, flight I want. I am only interested using a travel agency to get the cheapest rate. Does it matter which travel agency I use?

Edited by icu222much

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I am a local loyalist. I try as much as possible to keep my money in my community. $50? What the heck, support your local economy. Maybe you buy your food at one of those wholesale clubs. In that case go cheap, as the local economy means little to you.

 

Jim

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2 minutes ago, JimnKaren said:

I am a local loyalist. I try as much as possible to keep my money in my community. $50? What the heck, support your local economy. Maybe you buy your food at one of those wholesale clubs. In that case go cheap, as the local economy means little to you.

 

Jim

Agree.  And also remember that the local one has been around a long time.  The other could go belly up any minute.  You're protected but it could be a real mess.  We spend $50 on lunch at times.

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7 minutes ago, clo said:

Agree.  And also remember that the local one has been around a long time.  The other could go belly up any minute.  You're protected but it could be a real mess.  We spend $50 on lunch at times.

Exactly — it bends my mind trying to understand the things people try to economize on. A pizza supper followed by a movie for two then a couple of beers, and you have blown the better part of $100.

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If you have a glitch in a foreign port who will be most likely to spend a lot of time trying to help you straighten it out?

The cruise line?  No how, no way.

The out of town TA...again, pretty doubtful

The hometown team?  Seems most likely, esp if you go sit down and talk to them when you make your booking.

Making a success when traveling internationally is not all about the lowest price.

 

Lastly, remember, all TA's get the same price from the cruise line, so any discount you receive means that you are eating into their commission.    

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16 minutes ago, thinfool said:

If you have a glitch in a foreign port who will be most likely to spend a lot of time trying to help you straighten it out?

The cruise line?  No how, no way.

The out of town TA...again, pretty doubtful

The hometown team?  Seems most likely, esp if you go sit down and talk to them when you make your booking.

Making a success when traveling internationally is not all about the lowest price.

 

Lastly, remember, all TA's get the same price from the cruise line, so any discount you receive means that you are eating into their commission.    

This is information I am looking for. What sort of glitches can happen at a foreign port? Are we talking about me missing the cruise because my taxi broke down?

 

 

What about if this was between two local travel agencies? I just got a response from another local travel agency that quoted me with the same price and on board credit. Does it matter in this case?

Edited by icu222much

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18 minutes ago, icu222much said:

This is information I am looking for. What sort of glitches can happen at a foreign port? Are we talking about me missing the cruise because my taxi broke down?

 

 

What about if this was between two local travel agencies? I just got a response from another local travel agency that quoted me with the same price and on board credit. Does it matter in this case?

Do you have any friends who can refer you to a TA?  Would $50 really make a decision along this line?

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I am not trying to start an ethical discussion regarding whether or not I should support a local travel agency vs a non local travel agency. But FYI, my local travel agency has multiple locations just in my city alone where-as the one one in Maryland USA seems to be a smaller run business.

 

$50 is quite a sum of money, and I am trying to get the best value here. Wouldn't you be happy if you found out you have saved $50 on your flight by booking with someone else?

 

My friends all have referred me to Expedia.

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Personally I don't utilise TA's to assist with research, I do that myself. The TA is used to provide OBC and also to assist resolving issues pre/post cruise. For me, I am more interested in meeting the TA I will be working with, so online TA's don't work for us. Since we travel extensively, we also prefer to build a relationship than shop solely on price.

 

When price comparing, I am looking for savings of hundreds, or thousands of dollars. Even though I am retired, I also value my time, so personally for $50 savings, which on our next cruise is <0.5%, there is in-sufficient payback to invest much time. I will happily invest $50 in a TA that provides better customer service.

 

I would rather use the time to start planning the next adventure.

 

BTW - CC rules do not permit naming Travel Agents.

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3 hours ago, icu222much said:

I am not trying to start an ethical discussion regarding whether or not I should support a local travel agency vs a non local travel agency. But FYI, my local travel agency has multiple locations just in my city alone where-as the one one in Maryland USA seems to be a smaller run business.

 

$50 is quite a sum of money, and I am trying to get the best value here. Wouldn't you be happy if you found out you have saved $50 on your flight by booking with someone else?

 

My friends all have referred me to Expedia.

 

Lets assume that the total cost of your cruise is $5000.  The $50 that you will save by jumping through TA hoops is 1% of the total cost of the cruise.  To me, that is round off error.  I wouldn't even bother to call my TA for a $50 savings.

 

DON

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If i was the TA I'd be begging this guy to go with the online company coz hes gonna be a right pain in the ass anyways. Fifty bucks as you yanks say is a small amount in the overall cost if a cruise so why nickel and dime at this stage, likely as not going with the TA he may get a better deal along the way as price fluctuate. Here in the UK we have to take the first price offered and if it comes down tough, you pays your money and take your chance. 

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I agree with everyone on here. Whats $50?

 

At least there is a human being at the TA. I am sick to death of being told that doing everything onlne is better.

 

Its not. It might be cheaper, and in some ways easier, but give me human contact and discussions any day of the week.

 

Far too many jobs have been lost over the last few years because folk are too lazy to get outside and visit shops etc.

 

Where does it all end?

 

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I would not go with a small out of town TA. Personally, I use a large online TA. I find that they have better rates on some cruise lines than I can find elsewhere. The biggest benefit to them is there is always someone working. If I call in on a Saturday and my agent is off they will refer me to a manager who is working that will handle the price drop or anything else I need immediately. That's the biggest reason I don't shop local TAs. The concern that they will be a mon-fri business hours business and not be responsive at any time.

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Personally, my go to Travel Agent is located in PA.  I live in Alabama.  Never had any issues with her performance.  She gives a 8 to 10 % discount.  None of my local agents will do so.  I do not need her to do research, just book the cruise at the most advantageous price.  Don't need air fare.  Don't need hotels.  Just book the cruise.  This TA is a small business, just her and her one employee.  FWIW, she is quite popular on CC.  Also, I book suites so 10% discount is significant.

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11 hours ago, icu222much said:

This is information I am looking for. What sort of glitches can happen at a foreign port? Are we talking about me missing the cruise because my taxi broke down?

 

If you are worried about problems at port the best thing to do is research and prepare yourself what you would have to do if you missed getting back to the ship. When you are in a foreign country far from home a travel agent no matter how helpful can only do so much like booking you flights to reconnect with the ship but you still have to get to the airport yourself. Having your own information like where the embassies and airports are in the destinations, opening hours, useful phones numbers, if you needed how to connect to internet is far better than relying solely on a travel agent.

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21 hours ago, icu222much said:

I have found two travel agencies that have the same price for the cruise I want (Oasis of the Sea for Dec 2020). The only difference is that my local travel agency is offering $50 less on board credit then the agency I found on a website where I post which cruise I am interested in. This other agency is located in Maryland, USA. My local agency has been around for 30 years where as the one in Maryland has had their domain name registered for the past 5 years.

 

I know exactly which cruise I want, and I am planning to book my flights, excursions, hotels separately closer to the cruise date with any company that offers me the best rate. I am interested in trying to save as much money and don't need the travel agencies to suggest me hotels, flights...

 

I am wondering if there is a difference or any issues I can run into if I book with one travel agency vs another. Issues I am worried about is if the agency in Maryland would somehow scam me, or that they would make a mistake with my booking. Note that this is my first time booking a cruise.

 

TLDR - I'm looking to save as much money as possible, and I know exactly which cruise, hotel, flight I want. I am only interested using a travel agency to get the cheapest rate. Does it matter which travel agency I use?

We are in California and use a big online TA based in New Hampshire.  They all have the same price but not the same perks. We usually get pre paid gratuities a specialty dinner and sometimes a added OBC.  Even if we book direct with the cruise line to pick up a special offer we still call the TA and transfer to pick up the perks.   

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8 hours ago, taglovestocruise said:

  Even if we book direct with the cruise line to pick up a special offer we still call the TA and transfer to pick up the perks.   

In the UK we are not allowed to  do this your contract is binding with the first company you choose. Period. It's that price for ever no matter how much it comes down in cost. We paid over £1800 for a cruise and sat next to a couple who claimed to.have paid only £750 for the same week. Very annoying. We have started to wait and book maybe only 6wks b4 sail date this however limits cabin choice and we have to pay full fare immediately. 

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On 10/25/2019 at 6:49 AM, DarrenM said:

I agree with everyone on here. Whats $50?

 

At least there is a human being at the TA. I am sick to death of being told that doing everything onlne is better.

 

Its not. It might be cheaper, and in some ways easier, but give me human contact and discussions any day of the week.

 

Far too many jobs have been lost over the last few years because folk are too lazy to get outside and visit shops etc.

 

Where does it all end?

 

 

Do you drive a horse and carraige, so you can support the dying buggy whip industry?

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I did not title my thread or explained myself as appropriately as I should have, which is probably why this post is going very off topic. I am not here to discuss $50, or whether to book with a large travel agency that is located near my home or a small out of town agency that is located in another country. I just wanted to know what I should consider before between two travel agencies that is offering me roughly the same package. I think I have gotten the information I needed.

 

In response to the rest of the thread: I have been saving up for a nice cruise, which I found a deal at less then $1400. I don't travel often and I am still trying to save money to purchase a condo (which costs well over half a million). I assume those who think $50 is not a lot of money regularly donate $50+ to charity, and so I applaud your generosity.

 

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It is funny.  The one thing that did NOT sway my choice of TA was the price.

 

The price/perk differences were not that much.

 

I want SERVICE.  I use a small TA in Maryland.  It is local, but that was not the reason.  One thing I was looking for was someone who would check for price drops, as I travel internationally a lot.  

 

But I have also been amazed with the service.

 

I had to change two cruises last week.  One due to the sale of Grandeur of the Seas.  She got us transferred to a similar cruise, keeping all our perks for on onboard booking.

 

And then, the second cruise, she managed to get it moved without a new deposit, even though it was a non-refundable deposit (suite).

 

One trip, we had an issue with the TA OBC being wrong.  I emailed, and got a response within 15 minutes.  She had contacted RCI and gotten it straightened out.

 

SERVICE.

 

 

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On 10/24/2019 at 7:21 PM, thinfool said:

If you have a glitch in a foreign port who will be most likely to spend a lot of time trying to help you straighten it out?

The cruise line?  No how, no way.

The out of town TA...again, pretty doubtful

The hometown team?  Seems most likely, esp if you go sit down and talk to them when you make your booking.

Making a success when traveling internationally is not all about the lowest price.

 

Lastly, remember, all TA's get the same price from the cruise line, so any discount you receive means that you are eating into their commission.    

 

That's not precisely true. At least some cruise lines have volume incentives for TAs that sell a lot of their cruises. It may be commission incentives or perks that they can pass on to clients. 

 

I deal with a TA I found on line through a site where you put in a request for a specific cruise & TAs can respond with their offer. We usually cruise on small ship lines & I don't know of any local TAs that do much of that business. 

 

I haven't had any problems in a foreign port that I needed TA help with, but I have had pre-cruise issues and the TA has been extremely responsive resolving them. E.g. the cruise line messed up our cabin assignment and the TA got that corrected (not back to the original but to one in the area we wanted). They also got the cruise line to compensate us with the laundry package. Also they've been responsive about getting us price drops.

 

FWIW, the agency we are dealing with is brick & mortar somewhere, not one of the huge ones, but they belong to some consortium because one cruise some of the OBC came from the consortium. I guess that's a way smaller agencies can band together to get volume deals from the cruise lines.

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On 10/26/2019 at 10:40 AM, icu222much said:

I did not title my thread or explained myself as appropriately as I should have, which is probably why this post is going very off topic. I am not here to discuss $50, or whether to book with a large travel agency that is located near my home or a small out of town agency that is located in another country. I just wanted to know what I should consider before between two travel agencies that is offering me roughly the same package. I think I have gotten the information I needed.

 

In response to the rest of the thread: I have been saving up for a nice cruise, which I found a deal at less then $1400. I don't travel often and I am still trying to save money to purchase a condo (which costs well over half a million). I assume those who think $50 is not a lot of money regularly donate $50+ to charity, and so I applaud your generosity.

 

Actually you are fine....MANY folks on this website refuse to stay ON TOPIC and will inject personal opinions at a moments notice without actually answering the original questions posted in the thread. 

 

but alas...I can't help with you questions as I am one of the people who don't use T/A's.

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47 minutes ago, TruckerDave said:

Actually you are fine....MANY folks on this website refuse to stay ON TOPIC and will inject personal opinions at a moments notice without actually answering the original questions posted in the thread. 

 

but alas...I can't help with you questions as I am one of the people who don't use T/A's.

 

Thank you for that as I was afraid I crossed the line somehow 🙂

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I gave up on using a local TA when the one I used retired and her agency went out of business. That was more than 15 years ago. I've booked through large web-based agencies, smaller agencies, directly with a cruise line, and the big box store. I shop for price. The time I booked directly with the cruise line was a mistake--taking advantage of a last-minute sale I saw over the weekend. I found out that time that the cruise line would not let me transfer a booking after the final payment date. I learned to place a cruise on hold and then get a TA to quote me a price, along with any perks.

 

In the end, the charges for the cruise should be directly to the cruise line no matter if you choose the local agency or a web-based one. 

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