PanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 9 Posted (9 years 4 months 6 days ago) and read 2182 times:
Hello to all!!
This question is directed to travel agents in our a.net family.
With the advent of computers and the internet, the need for travel agents to book tickets has dropped tremendously in the past few years. I know that when I want to fly I can do everything through websites with a credit card and reservation number for flights, hotels, and rental cars.
However, I question whether this can be done on a scale when planning large scale vacations, such as Hawai'i or Europe. While there are web sites that have packages, finding the best deal many times takes someone with experience. As an example, my last trip to Hawai'i had several packages from the United Vacations website, but a travel agent found a better deal, and was very familiar with some out of the way spots that I would not have found. Not to mention, some destinations have HUGE blocks of seats earmarked specifically for travel companies' clients, so a person could end up paying WAY more for airfare than is needed.
Travel agents, is this the future of your business? The large scale packages that really can't be done via the internet? I'd appreciate any insights you might have!!
Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
EA CO AS From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 12935 posts, RR: 63 Reply 1, posted (9 years 4 months 6 days ago) and read 2135 times:
The mom and pop, brick-and-mortar travel agencies have taken a huge hit in recent years.
The internet has revolutionized the distribution of airline tickets. Air carriers are now able to sell their product via their own online distribution channel as well as through online wholesalers and mega-agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz.
As a result, many small, independent agencies have folded or merged with large ones. Where agencies once were paid on commissions, they now earn meager overrides from some air carriers they do large amounts of business with, and the bulk of their income is derived from service fees they charge to their clients directly.
Many agencies are also severing their relationship with ARC (the Airlines Reporting Corporation) and unplugging their GDS entirely, buying a fast PC with high-speed internet access and using the airlines' own websites to sell tickets to their clients.
For that trip you want to Vegas? Just buy it online yourself and save yourself the hassle. If you're planning a cruise package and want it all done right? Do yourself a favor and pay a professional travel agency to do it for you. The service fee is more than worth the time and trouble of coordinating everything yourself, plus the peace of mind of knowing that a (hopefully!) seasoned professional has arranged it for you.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan
NWA757 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 172 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (9 years 4 months 6 days ago) and read 2120 times:
The mom and pop, brick-and-mortar travel agencies have taken a huge hit in recent years. In my opinion it is quite sad really. Being a travel agent used to be a dream of mine, however in the recent years the internet has really hit the Travel industry hard for better and for worse.
Ams From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 1689 posts, RR: 12 Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2105 times:
More and more Travel Agents cannot survive due to the hudge amount of Internet bookings etc, Especially the small ones which sell mostly airline tickets. Some Travel agents set up a booking engine attached to their website, so people are able to book tickets.
The only disadvantage here in Europe is that most Travel agents have to charge a booking/Reservation fee, While most Airlines don't charge them if you book on their website.
It looks that more LCC's are entering the market, and I believe that maybe in 10 years from now the majority of Airlines are operating as LCC's
The good old times as Travel Agents are disappearing.
Geoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 7 Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2090 times:
Speaking from a customer point of view, I have yet to actually buy more than one holiday from a travel agents. The reason is simple: it's cheaper online (most of the time). Okay, so your Ayia Napa and Canaries package deals might be cheaper, but that's not the sort of holiday I go on anyway.
Example: I asked my local agents (independant and one of the top 5 in the country apparently) to cost up a 2 week holiday from London to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket and Bangkok. Total cost £1765. I then asked him to write down all the details - which hotels, flight numbers, dates, accomodation standard (executive king with breakfast, that sort of thing).
I then went online and booked everything identical to the specs given earlier, barring one train journey on Expedia. Total cost £1200. That was without even trying to find better deals. The train journey I bought locally for £20.
I've done the same thing a few times before, booked online and then laughed at the travel agent prices.
Is booking it yourself a load of hassle? Why, no, of course not! That is half the fun of the holiday - booking it yourself! It certainly beats finding out that the hotel your agent booked you up in was a complete dump! At least with the internet you can view their website, sometimes even find reviews of that hotel on other independant websites.
Sure, travel agents have a future. Just not with me, and their prominence won't be as much as the good old days.
PA110 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1966 posts, RR: 25 Reply 5, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 2035 times:
You used the travel agent to find the properties and then booked them yourself. Good for you! However, you placed no value whatsoever on the travel agent's time in finding and researching the information. While the difference in your specific example is significant, often the difference is not as large.
In general, travel agents who are passive "order takers" are on their way to extinction, and are easily replaced by the internet. As a tour operator, I am seeing more and more experienced leisure travel agents leave their agencies, and set up their own businesses. They specialize in customized vacations, where their detailed knowledge and experience are the asset they bring to the equation.
Someone looking for that perfect hidden getaway, might spend hours and hours finding various references on the internet, but might not find independent reviews from travelers who have actually been there. That's where the "good" agent proves their worth. A really good agent will have been to their specialty destination multiple times, and have visited the majority of hotels & resorts, gathering first hand knowledge. In this case, there is nothing wrong with the agent charging a fee for the value they bring to the booking. As to what level of fee is acceptable, that's a matter of negotiation.
However, using an agent as a free reference source and then booking everything yourself is probably not the most ethical or decent thing to do. Karma often has a funny way of getting even.
Airbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 7456 posts, RR: 11 Reply 6, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2022 times:
Travel Agents as we knew it are on the way out. Travel Agents provide a value added service and they should change their business practices to adapt to the new realities of the travel industry. They should charge their customers for this value added service and stop relying on the old commission based system which is all but gone.
There will always be people who are either too lazy or not knowledgeble enough to book their travel, or would rather pay a premium for having somebody else do the job. So travel agents will never disapear completely.
I mean, I can wash my car for free at home but I still take it to a car wash and pay $15. Same thing here.
PanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 9 Reply 7, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2002 times:
Keep in mind, though, that the vast majority of the world does NOT have access to computers like we do. A migrant worker from the central valley of California going to visit Mexico or Central America is not going to be able to arrange everything by himself, and will therefore pay an expert to handle the details. A travel agency will obtain all tickets in advance (bus, plane, bus again), plus be able to secure the tickets because of a business credit card (which the worker will almost definitely not have). For this purpose alone, there will always be a need a travel agents to certain part of the world. However, As was stated before, "as to what level of fee is acceptable, that's a matter of negotiation".
I think this goes along well with the statement about specialty agents. The internet, basically, is a series of well made interactive commercials designed to sell you something. If you don't know exactly what you're looking for, the internet sites are not going to help you; they're going try and change your mind about what you want. Someone who's been there and is out to make sure you get EXACTLY what your looking for (or they're going to direct to the person who can) is a distinctly human trait that no machine can duplicate.
Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
UAL747DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2331 posts, RR: 11 Reply 8, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2002 times:
I am glad that travel agents are getting what is coming to them. They have ripped people off for years and now they are going down. If they really did their jobs and were able to secure lower fares they would stay around for years but all they basically did was try to sell you the highest price package so that they would make the highest commission. I am fond of only one travel agency and it is a major one that is used to book only packages of over 100 people. What travel agents didn't do the web is doing today and that is giving the lowest fare, and a lot of the time lower than what you could get directly from the airline. Again if travel agents would have conducted business in a way that worked to save the traveler money they would still be here, instead they tried to make themselves rich, the internet came around and showed us how badly we were getting ripped off and they are out of business GOOD!
VonRichtofen From Canada, joined Nov 2000, 4624 posts, RR: 38 Reply 9, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 1992 times:
I still use a Travel Agent most of the time. For short trips within North America I'll book online, but overseas I'll use a T/A because my T/A always manages to find flights that are about 20% cheaper than anything online. Not only that, but if your trip has several destinations booking online can be a huge pain in the ass. So much easier to just call my T/A up, give him my details of where and when etc. and have him work it all out.
Dl021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11443 posts, RR: 78 Reply 10, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1974 times:
The modern travel agent who wishes to succeed must sell themselves to their clients and provide services people cannot provide for themselves. The market for business travellers is still good in spite of the competition, and a professional travel agent who knows their client and what they want will be able to better serve the client. It takes training and dedication coupled with sales ability to make it against the competition provided by the airlines and tour operators. What is worse is that sometimes the travel agents are their own worst enemy. The poorly trained and experience limited agents have either gone or are going, and the agencies that survive will do so selling complex packages, cruises, and tours. This will require superior skills and experience. The agencies that will live and make good money must be able to provide either exclusive high end business and leisure consulting or be able to do high volume.
If you want to fly to an all inclusive in Jamaica, you can take your chances and book yourself....If you want to stay at the right hotel in a city you do not know you need to find a good agent with the right knowledge, connections and consistency who will take the right care of you by sending you to the best places for you using the right airlines for your parameters.
Let me know if you need one either in the US or Europe, I can make a referral, because the good ones are hard to come by.
Access-Air From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1939 posts, RR: 14 Reply 11, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1957 times:
I should have known....You would make an cruel comment like that....
I have been a travel agent for 16 years and I do my job very well thank you very much...
Travel Agents do not rip anyone off......If you are referring to Travel Agency booking fees....BLAME THE AIRLINES......They decided that Travel Agents weren't worth anything to them anymore and cut our commissions to ZERO!!!!
Today Travel Agents can only sell you tickets with the fares that the airlines are willing to allow us to sell.....
Once again you are incredibly mis-informed!!!!!!!!
As for anyone using a travel agent to get information so they can an go book it by themselves....We have one word for people like that in our agency.... SCUM!!! Well that's my opinion anyway....
The biggest problem is that the internet world has taken a very once respected and well esteemed industry and has made it as trivial as buying shoes.
The benefits of using a travel agency is that most of the agencies have employees that travel to many places and have experienced first hand the good the bad and the ugly of what the general public is clueless about...
How many times do we see people on this forum ask what they can expect from an airline or a destination or the like????
Thru all these online booking engines you have little or no help if you have a problem..A travel agent is there to help in case something goes wrong. we get the job done!!!
Example: I had a client that bought a 5 segment ticket on Continental to Mexico that had a few stops on it....One of which was a Mexicana segment and it made the whole ticket a paper ticket.
Well, he got to the airport and was checking in....He had called us to tell us he didn't have the first two flight coupons....I told him that he indeed had them and that they should be there ....The CO agent was insisting that they weren't on the ticket.....I asked our client to let me speak to the airline agent....A little heated exchange took place between my self and the CO agent..... finally some how an agent next to this very insistent agent did find that coupons...Another agent had pulled them and attached boarding passes....Did I get any thank you?? Nope....The Airline agent when he found that he screwed up pretended like he didn't hear what I was saying and then hung up the clients cell phone.....
that's just a small thing.....Had the client not called me and I not spoken to the airline agent it wouldn't have been solved and they would have changed him a new fare....
Why you ask didn't he do it electronically?? Because Mexicana Airlines doesn't do electronic tickets and that defaulted his ticket to Paper....
We travel agents provide a very good service.... IM quite sure there are crappy agents just like there are fuss budget clients that nothing is ever right as well.......
One lady actually had the gall to come in and sit down at my co workers desk and proceed to ask my co worker how to book her own package online....
My co worker looked at her and asked her if she was serious and the lady replied that she was....My co worker then said I am sorry I cannot help you with that, that's what MY job is...My co worker was very polite about it but very firm.. The lady got pissed off and got up and left.....
So for those of you that think travel agents are ripping you off or are to be used as a library for research....Think again....
Next time one of you gets sick....Why don't you instead of going to your doctor just log onto WEBMD and ask them whets wrong..... let them write your prescription for you.....Its the same with travel...Just pray that on your next trip you don't run into any problems...you just may need a Travel Agent you bail you out....Because with out a Travel Agent, you are on your own!!!
Airbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 7456 posts, RR: 11 Reply 12, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1948 times:
If you want to fly to an all inclusive in Jamaica, you can take your chances and book yourself....If you want to stay at the right hotel in a city you do not know you need to find a good agent with the right knowledge
That's a double edge sword DI021. How does one know how knowledgable the TA is?
Most TA's in the US (and probably everywhere else), have knowledge of only the kind of places people don't need TA's for. Places like all inclusive resorts and cruises. Walk into any main street Travel Agency and ask them for recommendations for a hotel in Bangkok and I doubt very much they'll be able to provide you with better information than if you were to post that same question on a online buletin board for example.
UAL747DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2331 posts, RR: 11 Reply 13, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1944 times:
Yes I believe you are right about the airlines making you charge the fees but if I can book online why pay you?
Sorry I had to run. To continue, travel agents used to "force" airlines to pay them a high commission or they would basically boycott the airline and not sell their tickets. Back then going to a travel agent to book air was pretty much the only way to do it. This forced airlines to raise the prices so that they could pay the agent. Now that we have the net airlines can offer lower fares if you book online because no one has to be paid to do that. Travel agents now have no control over their commissions and they are mad. Access-Air, if something goes wrong with my travel you are not going to be able to help me anymore than what I can do for myself. All that you can do is call the airline and talk to them the same way that I can. I doubt that you are going to get me another flight for free if it came to that. Some people that do not want to deal with the airline directly still will use a travel agent and they should (like old people) but for me I don't know why I would pay you to do something that I could do from my desk.
Now there is one market that the travel agents still have but are loosing. That is charter travel. When I book a spring break trip to PVR I usually want to do it with Sun Trips or Apple Vacations. To do this usually I have to use a TA. Again even the charters are now finding that they do not need to use a TA and that it is cheaper to just have a website. I know that I can now book Sun Trips on the 800 number and that is how I have done it lately.
Jmy007 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 596 posts, RR: 2 Reply 14, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1943 times:
Dittos to Acess-Air
I work for a travel wholesale company, and we do have online bookings, but most people who have complex trips want a point person, not a computer. If things go wrong if you book a trip online, with out human contact...Good Luck!
But if you book with a T/A you have someone who can look out for you while on the road.
I tell folks to shop around on the net, see what they can find, and then let me do my job to find better rates. 9 times out of ten I can find them better deals, with service. (Again, if its a trip, not just plane tickets)
Agents are not going anywhere, The store front might, but our jobs are tied with the internet now. And we know how to use it to our advantage!
My 2 cents!
Cookies are the Gateway pastry. They lead to Éclairs and Bear Claws.
Starlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 16340 posts, RR: 66 Reply 15, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1934 times:
If you're a businessperson and you don't have the time, use a travel agent.
At my former employer, we had the travel agent in the building. They made sure we followed the corporate travel guidelines and fixed everything. Saved a bundle of time and money for me and my employer.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - from Citadel by John Ringo
Access-Air From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1939 posts, RR: 14 Reply 16, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 1927 times:
Yes and you can post a question on a bulleton board and get 50 different degrees of answers that leave you more confused than when you started..
We in the Travel Agency community have a wonderful (and expensive) directory that is very very ciritcal to all the hotels covered and is updated just like a Jeppesson airport approach plate manual is....We may not have every answer but we have more resources to get you the specifics if you ask We also have the reports from our clients that can and usually tell us how their trips went.......
You all have to rememner that if you are really serious about booking something and not just fishing for free information, a Travel Agent would be more than hapy to assist you....However, If youre there just to get the info and run and book it yourself...dont feel slighted if the agent gives you little or nothing to go on....We have to make a living too... We have had to force ourselves in our agency to not be so free with information because people burn us all the time...I guess people think we survive by some federal funding or the like.......LOL.
We hate charging fees for airline tickets.....But ist the only way we can stay in business....
As for packages....we have no fees for booking those.....they are still the only companies that see a need for us and therefore pay us for our work.
The only time we have any fee attached to a package is if you decide to cancel the trip....then for our time which is worth whatever we took to co-ordinate your trip and all the deatils and any mailiing fees for sending back documents etc...Sure you can buy Cancellation insurance but that does not cover our fees...Why?? Because we dont make a dime if you cancel.. Our commision for you sitting and spending hours at our desk (and there are many that do) whilst you couldnt make up your mind which all-inclusive you wanted is recalled by the tour operator. Just think if you all had to do that kind of stuff by yourself....Yeah you wouldnt have your fee but if you failed to buy the correct insurance to cancel or something irregular happend you might be screwed out of all your money.....Believe me tour companies dont care...if they have your money....We make them accountable.
Consider it like this....
When you book online or direct with airlines etc...it is like havig to go to court without an attorney. If you dont have all the facts or are not armed with the correct information, when its time to travel you might get a nasty surprise...
Some people who choose to book their own Cruises online instead of using a travel agency and find themselves DENIED boarding because they thought they didnt need anything for Identification...Funny that no refunds either...Ignorance is no excuse for denied boarding for improper documentation!!
Had these people booked with a Travel Agent, they would have this very important information and been abel to travel...
Its a bitter pill to swallow, but someone has to learn...
As for me, I take what I do as a Travel Agent very serious....I am meticulous and careful in every detail of what I sell to my clients. I take care of my clients and go the extra mile for them. To call me a rip off artist is a slap in the face...
Luv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12017 posts, RR: 50 Reply 17, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 1920 times:
Well said, having been both a Travel Agent then District Sales Managers for several tour operators, cruise line and now an all inclusive resort company I hear you loud and clear and thank each and every travel agent out there still doing the job they love......
Airbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 7456 posts, RR: 11 Reply 18, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 1904 times:
Hey Access-Air, I agree with you, but the only way you're going to survive as a business is by starting to charge for those services. I have no doubt travel agents can offer great services. Usually not for me because I consider researching and booking my travels to be half the fun. But there are a lot of people out there who need or prefers the services and values the services of travel agents.
By the way, people who go on a cruise without identification deserve to be denied boarding
Hawaiian717 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3146 posts, RR: 8 Reply 19, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 1866 times:
You'd be surprised how many people can't spell their own name right when they book the tickets online. Or book the wrong dates. Or to the wrong state (Newark, NE instead of Newark, NJ for example). Or think they lost their paper tickets when they really had an e-ticket.
I've yet to see a web site that is anywhere near as flexible with travel planning as Apollo/Sabre/etc. The old easySabre probably came closest.
UAL747DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2331 posts, RR: 11 Reply 20, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 1843 times:
If someone doesn't bring an ID, that is because they are stupid, not because they didn't book through a travel agent. If they booked through a travel agent and did the same thing they will still be denied boarding! If a person cant book air travel online because they don't know what state they are going to or how to spell their name, again STUPID! When you book online or direct with airlines etc...it is like having to go to court without an attorney. If you don't have all the facts or are not armed with the correct information, when its time to travel you might get a nasty surprise...
This is crazy, give me a break! We all book our travel online everyday and when something goes wrong the same thing would have gone wrong if you did it. Please tell me what you do that I don't do when booking. With the way tickets are sold now days if you are a good agent you are probably booking tickets on travelocity and the rest of the online agents to get better deals for your clients. You know nothing more than I do when booking travel and you have no more power than I do if something goes wrong. I know for a fact in most cases you have less power than I do. I know that a lot of airlines and online booking agents will no longer talk with travel agents, they will only talk with the passenger directly.
Now like I said before, there are some people that need a TA to book travel, and in the case of large business' it might be better for them to use a MAJOR agency to book travel, but for the average person there is no reason to go to a travel agent, the only thing that you will get is charged more.
Leskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 71 Reply 21, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 1830 times:
Access-Air, first of all, welcome to my Respected Users list.
I work at a consolidator, and we get both online bookings and bookings through travel agents... the percentage of online bookings that we get where the passenger managed to enter data that simply doesn't make sense (passengers with a first name "Sarah" selecting "Mr" as title for example, or someone making two bookings within 5 minutes but entering a different birth date for each booking) is astonishing - the "problem rate" with travel agents is much, much lower.
To some extent I'd say that the inflexibility and, sometimes, idiocy (just to clarify that: 99% of all airline employees that I've dealt with were competent, absolutely willing to help and were very supportive - the other 1% could easily have been replaced by the picture of a person, there would have been no difference) of some airline employees tend to be the best sales arguements I've ever seen for travel agents - and the case I had last week was just one of many...
The company I work for has offices all over the planet - and a person that had bought a ticket to Germany at one of our offices in the US suddenly found himself faced with a problem: Swiss had cancelled his return flight from ZRH to IAD after he had flown from IAD to ZRH sometime earlier this year.
What he did then was, fully in compliance with the conditions of contract between him and Swiss (as well as the contract between Swiss and us), he contacted Swiss by phone to be rerouted - Swiss simply told him to buy a new ticket. He then went to the airport office of Swiss' representative, and they only told him that they couldn't do anything, because the fligh he had simply didn't exist: if he wanted to return home by plane, he'd have to buy a new ticket...
Next, he contacted us (although I have no idea how he ended up on my phone - because I don't even work at our helpdesk... I issue tickets the whole day) and explained the problem and asked me if I could help: it took one phone call from me to Swiss and they immediately issued him a document that allowed him to return to IAD via JFK... so within less than 10 minutes, a travel agency managed to do something that the airline wouldn't do for him for a few months (he'd been trying to get the problem solved through Swiss since late in May/early June).
Unfortunately - or, perhaps, fortunately for us and for travel agencies - I hear about situations like this one from the people working the helpdesk on a daily basis.
So - to sum things up... the best sales arguement for travel agents is: if you don't book through us, you'll have to speak to the airline yourself... and believe me, you really don't want that.
By the way - yes, I know that last part (the arguement for travel agencies) was a bit exaggerated... and considering the volume of tickets we issue I'd say that it still is less than 1% of our passengers that actually have these problems - but, honestly: even one passenger encountering problems such as these is one too many.
If some around here seem to think it's a valid idea to dump all travel agents around the world because of one or two bad experiences, just imagine how many people would be avoiding lots and lots of airlines if the same standard were applied to them!
If someone on a.net complains about bad service from an airline, they're usually met with comments like "don't equate this with the whole airline - that was one bad employee" - yet when it comes to travel agents, one agent seems more than capable of discrediting the whole industry...
Geoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 7 Reply 22, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 1797 times:
I think I've been misunderstood. I don't use TAs as a library. They are one point of call on a shopping expedition. If you were buying a car, you wouldn't buy a car from the first showroom just because they helped you. No, you'd look around and find the best deal. Looking up the fares on the internet was that shopping around. Had the TAs found a cheaper or equivalent price, I would have booked with them. But time and time again, they come up with a ridiculously higher fare. The example I quoted was extreme (but true), but on too many other occasions there have been hundreds of pounds difference.
Now, perhaps US travel agents are different from UK travel agents. Most high street TAs in the UK are chains - Thompson (or whatever they're called today), Going Places, Lunn Poly, Thomas Cook etc. The people you tend to find in these places are NOT world-savvy - often young school leavers. Oh, they might have been to Majorca, but to quote Airbazar, they're not going to know a decent hotel in Bangkok. If I go on the internet, I can find reviews of such hotels - NOT the TA-recommended (read: commision-based) ones. And let's not go on about me telling one young lassie about the fact that there are two main international airports close to New York, not one...
JGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 23, posted (9 years 4 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 1788 times:
Geoffm - I would agree with you about UK travel agents - most of the staff at the big chain outlets are very young and inexperienced, and have just about enough basic training to be able to punch the tour code from the brochure into the Teletext monitor to check availablity. Ask them to actually book something not in the brochure and they just stare at you like you're mental. There are good independent travel agents in the UK, who are knowledgeable and are able to create tailor made trips, but they are getting fewer and further between.
I book all of my travel via the internet these days - flights, ferries, trains, cars, hotels - its all available, even if it takes a bit of shopping around. The trick is to use websites to give you an idea of whose cheapest, then go onto Amadeus and fool around looking for the flights that suit you with the right selling classes, quote it to check, then go to the airline website and book the ticket (we're not supposed to book personal travel for ourselves on the system, as were not a travel agency - sometimes I do, and transfer the booking to a corporate inplant down the road, who don't mind issuing the tickets for me). I'm lucky that I can use a GDS to construct and price the travel options I want - websites suck at piecemeal itinerary construction unless you know the exact flight numbers and dates you want before hand.
I haven't actually used a Travel Agent in France yet, haven't needed to. I don't know how good they are.