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Old May 18th, 2007, 01:50 AM
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Default onlline vs local travel agent

We are looking at booking a cruise for this December and am looking for opinions as to the best way to buy it. I have read the posts on this board about the reasons to use a travel agent versus going directly to the line itself, and now my dilemma is do I go to my local travel agent at the corner, or do I go to the big cruise travel websites that are currently offering incentives such as free companion airline passes? On the one hand I want to support my local businesses, but would I be better off with an on line travel agancy that is available 24 hours a day by phone or email, especially with the extra incentives they are offering?
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Old May 18th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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That is a decision only you can make. I, personally, prefer to deal with the same person all the time and to know that that same person will be on the other end of the phone when I call. With some of the online agencies, you are luckly if you can even talk to someone on the phone. I would definitely get recommendations from others before using any agency (local or online).
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Old May 18th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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Default re: on line travel agents

Thanks for your reply. I think the thing I am worried about with the on line travel agents is how can I tell how reputable the agency is. Is there a place where I can look at reviews of the on line sites and see ratings of the different sites? The one I am looking at in particular is cruises.com.
At least with my local agency I can go in her office if I have a problem, Of course, being local is no guarantee that there won't be problems either, as we experienced problems with our local travel agency we used to book our first cruise 20 years ago - he never booked the cruise and we, being the novice travelers we were at the time - didn't realize this until we were on the pier at a sold out ship. Fortunately, everything all worked out, and we ended up on a wonderful Royal Carribian ship, thanks to the dedication and hard work of the staff of the sold out Carnival ship who took pity on us and made our vacation happen despite our incompetent and probably criminal travel agent.

Now it has been awhile since we have used any travel agent for anything since we have been mainly traveling to our timeshare for vacation.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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For me, personally, I always use a local, large, nationwide Travel Agency. I have been using them for years, therefore, they know exactly what my requirements are when it comes to cruising. They have all my personal information, travel document info, and personal preferences. I trust them implicitely to provide the best pricing and recommendations. This agency is a high volume cruise booker, therefore, they have developed long standing relationships with all the major cruise lines. Also, any specials or premiums passed on to their agency is passed on to their customers. When you book travel over the internet or phone, it might be the one and only time you will speak to that person. If your local agency does not book a lot of cruises, you might want to find one that does. I know there are lots of people who only book over the phone or Internet with no problems but I prefer the personal services of a T.A.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 05:32 PM
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I use a online travel agency. My local agency is not open on the weekends, when I would probably need them if something went wrong.

I PM you the name of the agency I have used for the last 3 times.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 09:28 PM
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I book directly with the cruiseline. I don't like having to deal with a middleman. I am a control freak.

Local TA's are not around 24/7 in case of an emergency. The perks that online travel companies offer is not worth being at the mercy of the company's standing with the cruiseline in case there is a problem.

For my upcoming cruise, I booked directly with Carnival. To date, I have received $484 in OBC for various reasons. I got this by calling Carnival directly. Would I have received this much OBC through a local TA? Not likely. Through an online TA? Depends on their relationship with Carnival and whether they felt like going the extra mile just for my benefit.
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Old September 27th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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Default www.expresspassport.com

Really it is a good information. If you apply passport for you firstly contact travel agent.

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Old September 27th, 2010, 10:33 AM
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I totally agree with rose on this one, i use a local large volume cruise oriented travel agency, have had the same agent for years, she knows our likes and dislikes, wants and not wants, she has given us her home phone number in case something does arise, we get the extra perks and she will either meet or beat the pricing
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Old September 30th, 2010, 09:56 AM
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I am fortunate to have a good friend who's my travel agent; I can go over to his house; he has all the cruise software; and info; so we can do everything at his house; makes it very easy.
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Old September 30th, 2010, 08:51 PM
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I'm glad I used a local TA my printer died and my TA printed out our travel documents for cruise in 2 weeks. Would your Online company do this for you?
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Old September 30th, 2010, 11:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Securityman View Post
I'm glad I used a local TA my printer died and my TA printed out our travel documents for cruise in 2 weeks. Would your Online company do this for you?
Good point.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 12:45 AM
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You have to remember that an online TA is moving truckloads of a supplier's product and they operate on razor thin margins. Some can offer a rebate of their commission in the form of onboard credit. It doesn't mean you will get customer service. The online agencies are meant for the DIYer and as such are priced that way.

I have used the Nordstrom versus K-mart analogy before to some people's chagrin when talking about the fact that I charge a consultation fee before beginning to do research on a particular cruise. You can buy the same perfume at both places yet you will pay more at Nordstrom. However people are not buying perfume at Nordstrom, but the experience.

A good cruise agent will not only recommend the right ship experience for you, but will recommend shore excursions as well. They will also have contacts at your pre and post cruise hotel if needed.

But the main reason for using a local TA (and I do have clients from all over the world) is for the same reason you get travel insurance. It is for those times you don't anticipate. Technology has allowed agents to operate from a virtual office from anywhere in the world. Building a relationship with one person either in person, or phone or email means you will be taken care of when a volcano erupts in Iceland, transportation goes on strike in Spain, or fog closes several ports along the Gulf Coast.
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Old October 5th, 2010, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Securityman View Post
I'm glad I used a local TA my printer died and my TA printed out our travel documents for cruise in 2 weeks. Would your Online company do this for you?
I had a printer like that once...dot matrix.
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Old October 8th, 2010, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IBCRUZIN' View Post
I book directly with the cruiseline. I don't like having to deal with a middleman. I am a control freak.

Local TA's are not around 24/7 in case of an emergency. The perks that online travel companies offer is not worth being at the mercy of the company's standing with the cruiseline in case there is a problem.

For my upcoming cruise, I booked directly with Carnival. To date, I have received $484 in OBC for various reasons. I got this by calling Carnival directly. Would I have received this much OBC through a local TA? Not likely. Through an online TA? Depends on their relationship with Carnival and whether they felt like going the extra mile just for my benefit.
IBCruzin,

You make some very good points. We also usually book direct with the cruise line, unless we can find a much better deal from a Travel Agent. We are also control freaks and even skipped a $75, per cabin onboard credit
from a TA, to book our next cruise direct with Princess at the same price.

That said, we would love to find a GOOD local or online Travel Agent, but in years of searching we have had no luck in that department. Not to say there are not some out there, we just have not found one. As you said after all is said and done, the final responsibility falls on the passenger to watch for any additional discounts or onboard credits the cruise line may offer.

At the end of the day it comes down to the personal preference of each of us and I have several good friends who would never consider booking anything on their own.

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Old October 9th, 2010, 03:01 AM
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Quote:
But the main reason for using a local TA (and I do have clients from all over the world) is for the same reason you get travel insurance. It is for those times you don't anticipate. Technology has allowed agents to operate from a virtual office from anywhere in the world. Building a relationship with one person either in person, or phone or email means you will be taken care of when a volcano erupts in Iceland, transportation goes on strike in Spain, or fog closes several ports along the Gulf Coast.
I don't know if I agree that's the main reason, but I do agree it's a GREAT reason!!! A terrific TA will also go to the bat with the cruise line if there's issues, and can climb the ladder to the right person faster, and have more clout than the individual. It's called service, and there's certainly enough competition in the business these days that you can demand it!

Quote:
I have used the Nordstrom versus K-mart analogy before to some people's chagrin when talking about the fact that I charge a consultation fee before beginning to do research on a particular cruise. You can buy the same perfume at both places yet you will pay more at Nordstrom. However people are not buying perfume at Nordstrom, but the experience.
That is just a terrible analogy! If the same product is available at a lower price I'd definitely skip the name and save $. Oddly, for my last birthday my wife bought me a bracelet at Nordstrom. 3 months later the clasp broke, and I took it back to Nordstrom. Though they had an identical bracelet on display, and even though it was only 3 months old, all they would do is send the bracelet back to the manufacturer (in Greece) to be repaired, and that took 4 months. That was my only option.

If it had been Walmart they'd have either refunded my money, no questions asked, or offered the new bracelet from the showcase.

But the Dept. manager at Nordstrom was very well dressed, and felt very proud of his position at Nordstrom, and Nordstorm's position of "backing" what they sell.

To get back on topic, I highly recommend using and forming a bond with a great travel agent.
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Old October 9th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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Most agencies including the big name ones don't work 24hrs per day 7 days a week . Many close during the night and have minimal staff on week ends and holidays .
Most bookings are assigned are taken by an agent and tracked for the time the booking is active . But the individual TA doesn't avaiable or work all the time.
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Old October 9th, 2010, 07:11 PM
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Maybe Princess has spoiled me, but I prefer booking with the cruise line. It's the same price. All my information and preferences are saved in their website. I am assigned a cruise specialist through them who contacts me and helps me before the cruise.

Putting too much faith (and money) into a person or agency I don't know, scares the dickens out of me.

Granted, I do my own research online, I buy books, and check this board faithfully.

On board credit, future cruise credits, and credit card rewards get me many freebies.

Perhaps I'm lucky, but doing my homework ahead of time guarantees me I will always have a great trip.

Everyone has their preferences, this one is mine.
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Old October 10th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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I have used the same TA for all my cruises except once .TA was closed and found a smokin good deal that was only for 2 days on a long week end.
In some Canadian provinces TA's have to pay into a travel assurance fund
that covers you for TA , cruise line , airline etc failure before & during your travels. I have now developed a relationship when I call with a cruise she doesn't have to go looking and recommending me a cruise .
I just tell her the Line , itenary , date & cabin . Then just goes out and gets me the best price. If I see a special price on line she usually can get me the same or very close.
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