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Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Dublin, Ireland
posts: 1,226
reviews: 95
Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

I have been researching flights for a trip later in the year and out of curiousity I decided to call a local travel agent (who specialises in North American travel) to see if they had any deals only available to agents, on the flights.

Imagine my surprise , when these self proclaimed experts, could not locate the Airport code for Norfolk International (ORF) and told me , after a lengthy hold, that they had 2 - one in Canada and the other in CA !

I was given a price and asked did I want to book it - no flight times, no connecting cities and when pressed was told it was Contintental....I asked the connection city and was told Washington and when I asked was it Dulles, was told no, it's Washington!

While I am aware that there are many good travel agents, I found the basic lack of knowledge abysmal. No big surprise then that inexperienced travellers can be left high and dry by some agents through lack of general knowledge and just not knowing their job.

As it turned out, their *specially negotiated fare* was $300 MORE than on the airlines website - caveat emptor.

London
posts: 7,139
reviews: 21
1. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Indeed katy last time, few years ago, enquired in travel agency about a fare. I said that I wanted to go to Phuket - the young girl replied oh thats nice, where in Caribbean is that. I replied no its in Thailand and she replied - oh really is it. lol - realised I was on a losing wicket and never used an agent since.

Cala d'Or, Spain
posts: 3,066
reviews: 89
2. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Not all agents are the same.

A good agent such as Trailfinders will be able to assist you with any travel itinerary but don't expect the same level of service from your local branch of Thompsons.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 13,759
reviews: 71
3. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Hi,

That's unfortunate.. and I think this is, to a degree, a result of the airlines commission structure in that many of the older, more experienced agents and agencies have found that they simply cannot afford to operate on the current commission tables in place, or some have chosen- for economic reasons- to become a fee-added business..

In some cases today you really end up with a TA that is less trained in true travel planning strategies per se, and who really becomes more of an order-taker than a true value-added counselor..

but I also think that just like it is with other professional services-- and I do classify travel agents as professional services-- when you find a good one, who meets your needs, you try like heck to hold on to them for future use..

Travel Safe,

London
posts: 7,139
reviews: 21
4. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Indeed crazy but woud say Trailfinders are travel specialists rather than agents.

Stanley, Falkland...
posts: 27,433
reviews: 54
5. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

I agree with #2. That was not a specialist agent - it was someone off the street who had not been trained. There is a difference.

What was the name of this so-called specialist so that others don't use them? That would be more helpful than tarring every agent with the same brush.

UK
posts: 985
reviews: 13
6. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Katy, you must have called a bad travel agent. I think if people do their research before they call or visit a TA, they can select the right one. As crazypom has said above somebody like Trailfinders would be totally different. They have a branch in Dublin, you may be surprised at some of the things they can advise on a trip as normally there is somebody who has been to where you are going, not all the time I know, but our first visit to Oz was helped so much by the people their. I am sure there are other travels agents who offer at least the same level of service.

I also like the fact that if I use a high street shop there is somebody I can go and see if something went wrong. i do book direct a lot as well, but sometimes getting somebody to organise an itinerary for you is so much easier, maybe a bit less fun, but easier.

Nashville, TN
posts: 4,430
reviews: 8
7. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Being a former travel consultant, I have to agree with GOPBI. In the period I worked for the company (which was an online agency), I saw our training go from an intensive 8 week travel training program down to a 1 week class focused mainly on computer skills and telephone procedures.

There's been a definite degradation in training and skills. However, there are still some very good agents out there who focus on you, your needs and providing the service a client expects and deserves. If you happen to find one of them, latch on to them and hold on tight. They are getting to be few and far between.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 33,829
reviews: 76
8. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

It also depends on what area of the world you are from. In Hong Kong, we have many knowledgeable agents who can get me fares that I simply cannot get online direct with an airline. Their service usually work best for complex itineraries or when they can put me on a waitlist for lower fares. On point-to-point itineraries, particularly within North America or Europe, I can get the same fares online.

Once in a while though, I do send them a booking code from ITA so they can book the cheaper fare.

Dublin, Ireland
posts: 1,226
reviews: 95
9. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

Just like to point out that I am by NO means tarring all travel agents with the same brush, there ARE some very good ones out there, neither am I in the business of naming and shaming.

As a former travel consultant , both in retail and corporate I am shocked at the basic lack of geography and knowledge and can only assume it's lack of training.

Like I say, the call was out of curiousity more than anything else and a call to another so called specialist requested my contact details - full name, mobile number and e-mail address before they could price a flight for me?

I shall be booking directly with the airline and like the title of my post says - this is why I prefer not to use a travel agent.

Stanley, Falkland...
posts: 27,433
reviews: 54
10. Re: Why I prefer not to use a travel agent...

I'm confused. If you know there are some very good ones out there, why not use them?

And if you don't name them, then innocent travellers looking for an agent could well use the one you called.

Isn't this forum here to help people avoid the bad guys, and to recommend the good guys? Or does everyone have to learn by trial and error?