There was a recent article on CNN in which a woman listed all the bizarre difficulties she faced during her vacation due to “illegal travel agents”. The plane ticket he bought was not upgradeable or refundable. The hotel will not upgrade him to a better room. His car does not have unlimited mileage. He said travel agents have done all this to earn a big commission. And the list goes on …
My first reaction as a traveler was that the best right to be angry and upset was that his vacation was not fantastic. My first reaction as a travel agent was – hold the castle – did he ask for any of these items when he met with the travel agent?
We readers don’t mind anything. We better screen our clients to search for likes, dislikes and preferences. However the client provides a large part of the process.
To understand how to make the best use of a travel agent you need to understand how a travel agency operates.
In the “good old days” travel agents receive commissions from airlines, hotels, cars and resorts for travel purchased on behalf of the client. With the advent of the Internet these commission checks began to disappear. Regular airfare (excluding hotel or car rental) is usually not effective. This means that when a travel agent does research for your best fare, (he) will not get any money for the time and effort spent on your behalf. Booking an airline ticket alone is actually an offer to lose money for a travel agent. However, many good agents will continue to book these flights as a goodwill gesture in the hope that you will bring them another trip.
Your budget determines the airfare and accommodation. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably end up with non-refundable / non-convertible plane tickets and hotel rooms that don’t allow you to upgrade. Be sure to discuss your budget options and the policies and cons associated with your airfare, car and hotel before your purchase. Keep in mind that your travel agent may charge a higher commission on refundable / upgradeable fares so buying a non-refundable / non-convertible ticket did not really help the travel agent.
If you want to use airline or hotel points for upgrades, be sure to tell your agent in advance. That way he (she) can bargain you the best upgrades.
Your travel agent can be an invaluable resource when planning your next trip or vacation. Volunteer information has certain responsibilities if you are not asked directly as a consumer.
Questions to ask your agent.
1. Are you taking any research or other fees?
2. Will you work with me if there is any problem?
3. Are you working with an organization that allows me to take my leave?
4. Is there a 24/7 phone number for complex issues?
Your agent should ask you
1. Which field of travel are you interested in?
2. What kind of budget do you have?
3. What kind of travel do you prefer – air, cruise, all included?
4. Do you like airport seats?
5. Smoking or non-smoking hotel room (if applicable)?
6. What level of service do you expect – budget, 5 star etc?
International. Ask for visas and passports for international travel.
Fantastic vacations start with detailed planning. So, get together with your travel agent and start planning your next dream trip.