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  #61 (permalink)  
Old March 28th, 2010, 02:29 AM
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And like I said earlier, my model works for me and works quite well. By the way, in my community and in several communities I have lived, there are real estate agents who charge a consultation fee.

My fees are not hidden and disclosed right up front. I also happen to give a lot of information and help clients and non-clients alike through my participation in message boards, on twitter, facebook and my blog. What I do avoid is those people who wish to use my services only for issuing quotes. I think people who have an agent price a cruise and then go out shopping and book for a little bit of savings or some perk like OBC or pre-paid something have engaged in theft of service. Having a consultation fee avoids our agency from working for nothing. Believe me we are not losing sleep over the sales at other agencies.

As more and more agencies begin to charge fees AND the cruise lines eliminate commission all together, more people with either book direct or have no choice but to participate in the consultation model. Right now you can choose to shop at Wal-mart or at Nordstrom as there is an audience for both. There are agencies that work on volume and who are so driven by commission that they cannot provide the same type of service that we do. The others that are offering or claiming they offer our same services in my mind are leaving money on the table. That is okay too. It is just not a model that works for me. When you have a "velvet rope" that potential clients must get beyond and you have a waiting list, we know we are doing something right.

Even CLIA in their ongoing education projects push for the agent community to charge a fee. ASTA is doing it as well and even produced a course on how to go about it.

Last edited by Amberderossi; March 28th, 2010 at 02:51 AM.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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I said I wasn't going to participate in this thread anymore but I just can't help myself.

I resent that you assume that people like me don't gouge their clients with a "consultation" fee that we are less than someone like you who does.

There is nothing and I mean nothing that you offer that many of us don't without forcing people to pay extra for.

There is not one single thing you have stated on here that I don't already do and I resent very much you insinuation that we are not as good as you.

It appears to me if you carry the attitude into your office that you have on here you are a snob.

The fact is there are all types of people out there that are doing the best they can to give the most they can to their families and your attitude is they are not "good enough" for you. Well, they are good enough for me and many like me and the snobs like you can continue doing what you do best - be snobs.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 10:09 AM
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I see that there are two business models here and neither one of them is wrong. However: I also see that Direct Attacks are starting and these will not be allowed.

This is a great thread and let's not shut it down by name calling.

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Old March 28th, 2010, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
I resent that you assume that people like me don't gouge their clients with a "consultation" fee that we are less than someone like you who does. There is nothing and I mean nothing that you offer that many of us don't without forcing people to pay extra for. There is not one single thing you have stated on here that I don't already do and I resent very much you insinuation that we are not as good as you.
Never once in this thread have I said or have I implied that I was better than you. I have always maintained that I am getting paid for what many agents are giving away for free. I have never forced nor "gouged" my clients to pay anything. I have offered a concierge service and found people willing to pay for it.

If you are doing the same services I offer, more power to you or anyone else. I just do not let my supplier determine how much I can make in this business. Our agencies fees have become our bread and butter and any commission is gravy. I do know a lot of agents who are so focused on commission that many times they recommend a vendor based not on how it will meet the needs of a client but by how much commission that vendor will pay. To me that is not a model of business that serves a customer.

Upthread you mentioned that you would make $2/3 on a $199 booking. To make a living doing that, you would have to do a heck of a volume. It is simple facts that if you concentrate on volume, you cannot offer the same level of service. No one can.

You made fun of offering a service to one client to "walk the dog", well a recent client was not going to have a good cruise experience because she was worried about who would care for her dog. I was able through my network of contacts find a pet sitter. That alone removed her level of worry and allowed her to enjoy her cruise.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
. Right now you can choose to shop at Wal-mart or at Nordstrom as there is an audience for both. There are agencies that work on volume and who are so driven by commission that they cannot provide the same type of service that we do.
The snippet of your post that I've quoted here is presumptious, and likely could have been what "set off" the response by "Felix".

Your statement presumes that you're "Nordstroms" and "others" are "Walmart".

In my experience there are MANY agents who do not charge additional service fees who provide truly outstanding service. There is no correlation to presume you charge more, so therefore provide better service.

I've experienced and been told of agents who've stated they charge more because that enables them to provide "better" service than those who don't, where that hasn't been born out by the facts.

There's great agents on both sides of the equation, and bad agents on both sides of the equation.

You've previously stated that you're a home based agent, and from statements you've made, affilliated with a larger base agency. There are many other travel agents doing the same. Some customers shy away from using home based agents, believing a brick and mortar operation can offer more than a home based agent... just as others think an agent who is available online, can not produce as much for them as does a brick and mortar. The business has lots of variables. And no one situation dictates how good a service the travel agent can provide.

I do applaud you for making your additional fees known in advance. My BIGGEST peeve is agents who charge a fee, but the first time the customer knows anything about it is when they get their booking confirmation, and it's already been charged to their credit card.

You do keep mentioning agents who "leave money on the table". That's a bit of a red flag for me. It's an indicator that it's more important to get the last dollar out of the deal, than it is to serve the needs of the client.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
You've previously stated that you're a home based agent, and from statements you've made, affilliated with a larger base agency. There are many other travel agents doing the same. Some customers shy away from using home based agents, believing a brick and mortar operation can offer more than a home based agent... just as others think an agent who is available online, can not produce as much for them as does a brick and mortar.
I believe there are two types of people in this world. Those that I can help and those that I can. I concentrate on those that I can.

Quote:
You do keep mentioning agents who "leave money on the table". That's a bit of a red flag for me. It's an indicator that it's more important to get the last dollar out of the deal, than it is to serve the needs of the client.
The reason I say that is I see a lot of agents who do a lot of services for their clients which take up a great deal of time and are not in line with the amount of commission they are making on a sale. Agents never really look at their costs per transaction. If they are losing money or in some cases not making even minimum wage, they are engaged in a model where they are working much harder to earn a living.

When other agents ask why I charge, I explain what I do and that I feel if they are doing these other services for free then yes they are leaving money on the table. It is my business to be paid by the clients who engage my services a fair wage based on the market and what value I bring to them. If company was doing oil changes and only charged for the cost of oil and tax and not for the labor to do it or the cost to dispose of the old oil, then they too would be leaving money on the table.

I do believe when you are good at something, you should never do it for free. There are many people do not value and have no loyalty when they get something for free.

You made it clear in your blog entry: Cruisemates Blog Are Cruise Travel Agents Justified in Charging Service Fees? Kuki
that you feel agents are not justified in charging a fee. We can agree to disagree, but then again you are not a client I am seeking or that is seeking my services.
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  #67 (permalink)  
Old March 28th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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My TA has worked for two different agencies .
For one agency every reservation was automatically charged
a "Service Fee" . Her current one only charges a fee when they book
airfares or with certain whole sale companies .
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  #68 (permalink)  
Old March 28th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by doopydozer View Post
My TA has worked for two different agencies .
For one agency every reservation was automatically charged
a "Service Fee" . Her current one only charges a fee when they book
airfares or with certain whole sale companies .
For services like air, hotel arrangements, car rentals, etc. where commission rates are miniscule I certainly have no issue with agents charging service fees.

For cruises, where comissions can easily be in the 15-18% rate, plus overrides, incentives, etc. I do believe the compensation for the work done is pretty fair.

Of course "fair compensation" is determined by what share of that is net to the agent. And that's a whole other discussion on rates paid by agents to their host agencies and consortiums.
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Old March 28th, 2010, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amberderossi View Post
You made it clear in your blog entry: Cruisemates Blog Are Cruise Travel Agents Justified in Charging Service Fees? Kuki
that you feel agents are not justified in charging a fee. We can agree to disagree, but then again you are not a client I am seeking or that is seeking my services.
You're right! But I do seriously advocated for people to USE a cruise travel agent! And I do worry, that some of the actions travel agents are taking is driving people to booking directly with the cruise lines.... which leaves them vulnerable.

I think it should be obvious that the cruise lines see the trend, and are putting more and more efforts into making it easier for customers to book directly with them, and saving paying any commissions to anyone.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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I can only tell you from my experience is that many new clients over the past year have suffered from information overload. They are seeking out a specialist to help them cut through all of the "deals" and specials" and come ons.
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Old March 29th, 2010, 07:09 PM
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"I think it should be obvious that the cruise lines see the trend, and are putting more and more efforts into making it easier for customers to book directly with them, and saving paying any commissions to anyone."

Thanks, Kuki. I'm glad to see you've witnessed the trend. Although you and I disagree on travel agents (I have used them and have been satisfied), times are changing. If one is self-sufficient, one can find a great deal and fend for themselves.

I guess it all depends on how much time you have. It also depends on how you deal with disappointments and expectations, as well as getting compensation. If one demands exemplary service, one should pay for that. If you can't afford the service, be prepared to take charge, do it on your own, and (depending on your charisma), accept the outcome.

No one wants a bad cruise, to each their own.

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  #72 (permalink)  
Old April 11th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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Interesting Topic& comments. Let me first say I dont charge a fee for booking cruises & I hardly book air unless a client forces me to . For tose who say I dont need a TA I know everything & do it myself. Thats fine but dont cry & complain when something goes wrong & you have no advocate. Agents fill up the cruiseships & when their clients have a problem the cruiselines listen to them. Do you think XYZ Cruiseline will care if you booked direct & have a problem???
Also booking direct saves you nothing & most times you miss out on TA perks!!!
As for calling a TA asking questions & taking their time & then booking elsewhere for 10.00 I think thats unprofessional but I take it as part of my business.
To sum up use a good TA, they are mostly free of charge & your advocate!!!
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Old April 18th, 2010, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reece0 View Post
Interesting Topic& comments. Let me first say I dont charge a fee for booking cruises
Let me be clear. The fee that someone pays me is NOT for booking travel.

The fees I charge are for advice, expertise, support, service, supplier relationships, pulling springs, representing my client to the supplier and much much more. I am not charging for information but for knowledge. The internet is full of information, not all of it correct, an expert has the knowledge and should charge for it.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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We've been in business for several years, and have always required a retainer for our services. I wouldn't do it any other way.

Let me ask you a question...
Let's say you came in for a job interview. And the interviewer asked you to put together a fantastic proposal, with a great amount of detail. They would like photos, maps, weather info, dining info, etc. Once the proposal is completed, they may ask for several revisions. This job could take anywhere from 4 to 20 hours to complete. Once you're done, then they will decided IF they are going to pay you. Would you take that job? Of course not. Why should an agent? It's not an audition. It's preforming a service.

Our clients aren't paying for a commodity. They're paying for a service, for our knowledge, for our years of experience, for our connections within the industry that will benefit them. We're not retailers selling travel-that's Expedia. We're a service business preforming a professional service.

If an agent doesn't value their services enough to charge for them, then perhaps you should be asking yourself what it is that you're really getting. I wouldn't put anyone into my schedule without a retainer, and I applaud any agent who charges as well. If you don't value what your agent does enough to pay for it, then you should really just do it on your own.

And for those of you who think it's cheaper to book online, consider this-when hotels and cruiselines set their pricing, they assume that they'll be paying an agent. So if you're booking online, you're paying for a service that you're not getting.

Last edited by KHolmes; April 27th, 2010 at 08:18 AM. Reason: typo
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Old April 27th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
And for those of you who think it's cheaper to book online, consider this-when hotels and cruiselines set their pricing, they assume that they'll be paying an agent. So if you're booking online, you're paying for a service that you're not getting.
That's a pretty sophisticated argument. I like it. Of course, I think it depends on the economy. Right now I think the cruise lines are just getting as much as they can get for each cruise - I am not sure they are in a position to be that flexible in their pricing.

But by the same token, it is absolutely true that you are paying the same price whether you book directly or use an agent (assuming the agent does not charge an additional service charge) - so you are being somewhat innefficient if you don't use an agent. So good point.

Unlike the others, I say agents are definitely worthwhile. When I can handle ALL of my travel arrangements with one phone call why should I do it? I think it is even worth a service charge for a great agent.

How many agents know whether it is better to hire a car or take the train in Brugges, for example?

There is a segment of high end cruise agents - many working for Virtuoso - who only sell the top cruise lines (Valerie Wilson is another). If you can afford these agents they are worth the price.

If you are not in that financial category - then you can go to a non-service fee agent, but there are still plenty of those who are also extremely knowlegable.

Bottom line, though, you dont save anything by booking direct.
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  #76 (permalink)  
Old April 27th, 2010, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
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And for those of you who think it's cheaper to book online, consider this-when hotels and cruiselines set their pricing, they assume that they'll be paying an agent. So if you're booking online, you're paying for a service that you're not getting.
When you say "those who think it's cheaper to book online", I would think you meant book "directly" online, because many full service travel agents do have an online presence.

Apparently you Amber prefer to think of yourselves as consultants. Isn't everyone a consultant these days though

I always recommend people use travel agents. As a matter of fact, my blog this week, appearing tomorrow, is about hiring a "great travel agent".
We can discuss the points made in that tomorrow.

Whether you like it or not, you are selling cruises. And my view in hiring an agent is... though the cruise line is paying you, I'm hiring you to make use of your expertise. If you have no expertise, I wouldn't consider hiring you to represent me. With the structure in place, where the cruise line will pay you to represent me, I feel no need to pay any additional fees. But I'd certainly reward you for doing great work for me by doing my best to send you all the new clients I could by recommending all the people who cruise that I know to you. In the long run, in most cases, I think the earnings potential for the agent from that type of loyalty ends of being a much larger #s you'd make from me paying you the extra $100 or so you might want as a consultation fee from me.

I understand there's different sides and different views of this topic. And depending on cruiser's needs, perhaps no "right" side... but more dependant on the needs of specific situations.

You used an interview as an example... which is interesting because that's what I recommend in my blog tomorrow.... interviewing a travel agent just as you would interview a prospective new employee.

Now, as far as consultation fees.... if I am looking for a piece of jewellry for my wife I go to educated jewelers, and they will share their expertise, spend quite a bit of time discussing options etc. Yet, none will charge me a "consultant's fee" if I don't buy the item for them.

Even lawyers in many types of cases work on a contingency fee. If they produce results, they get paid from the proceeds.

If I go to purchase a new vehicle, I can test drive as many vehicles as I like, ask as many questions as I like. If I want to talk to a mechanic to ask questions related to the vehicle the dealership will supply on at no cost to me. If in the end I buy a car elsewhere I don't pay them.

I guess what I'm saying is expertise is a tricky thing. Too assume you should be paid twice for your expertise (by both the cruise line and me), is a stretch I think. If it works for you, and you're happy with it, that's fine, but it's not enough for me to recommend you over those I know who have similar expertise, but accept the fact the cruise lines will pay their salary for me.

Everyone who has a job, has expertise. Well, those who keep a job, anyway I suppose the basic arguement is the same, whether about cruising, or any other job... who decides how much that expertise is worth?

In the end, of course, it's the customer who decides, with their purchase.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Great Thread--lot's of good points of view.....
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Old April 28th, 2010, 08:13 AM
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I guess what I'm saying is expertise is a tricky thing. Too assume you should be paid twice for your expertise (by both the cruise line and me), is a stretch I think. If it works for you, and you're happy with it, that's fine, but it's not enough for me to recommend you over those I know who have similar expertise, but accept the fact the cruise lines will pay their salary for me.


Kuki we're not being paid twice for our expertise. This is the part that I believe you're misunderstanding.
We're being paid by the client for our services. We're being paid by the vendor for filling their hotel, ship, whatever. Those are two different things.
Many people like yourself do see travel as a commodity, so for someone like yourself, hiring us to plan the trip, and paying for it, may not make sense.
We don't run our business as though we're retailers selling a product. We're a service company offering a service.
Our agents are very well traveled, all hold degrees, and are able to offer our clients insights and advice that goes far beyond what they could find online. And before you say "but what about trip advisor" , please remember that no one on a review site is staking their professional reputation on the outcome of your trip. We are. That's a huge difference.
The clients that we work with are happy to pay us, thank us repeatedly, and often ask why we don't charge more. If we were only offering what they could get online, then we could never get away with that. And even if there were no commissions from vendors, we would still be in business. That's because we're service professionals, not travel retailers.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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For the most part I have no need or use for a Travel agent. I can cut through the internet deals like a hot knife in butter. However, I have had two very different experiences with travel agents.

My cruise reward card requires I use a TA. I found the cruise, I determined the type of fare, I figured out hotels, and shore excursions. The only thing they had to do was put in my early saver requests on my upcoming Carnival cruise and that was to much for them.

On the other side of the coin is Nancy. I booked a Cruisemates Transatlantic cruise and Nancy is the travel agent. She did a great job. When the cruise line tried to "upgrade" us to a forward room. She stepped in on our behalf and got us a true upgrade. She had to deal with my mom's freak out over where her room was location. I love my mom, but she can be difficult at times. We got to the room and a bottle of champane and chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us. I have a great time on that cruise and I can see that having a Travel Agent can be a wonderful thing. For new cruisers is important to have a good travel agent so they are on the cruise that suits them best.

For me a Travel Agent like Nancy is helpful and useful. I still don't need a travel agent, because I'm a research nut. I love knowing stuff and founding stuff out. I love comparing cruise prices and have created a template to cost out cruises to include: hotel, airfare, shuttle, pet care, tips, taxes, parking, cost of gas, etc. My template has three tabs for one for cruise costs, one of misc cost casued by the cruise (costs of kenneling the dogs etc) and a summary tab rolls up the cost and shows the cost per night of each cruise. At one point I had 12 cruises on the template. My hubby was looking at me like I was a crazy person.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 10:31 AM
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Kat... you may indeed know everything you need or care to know about the cruise you book. BUT.. I see you're sailing Carnival.

With Carnival, if you didn't need a travel agent, but booked directly with the cruise line, you paid more than you needed to. Particularly true in your case, when you know what ship you want, what type of cabin, etc. You'd be an easy client, and therefore most likely easy to offer a discount to.

If a problem develops on your cruise having a great travel agent will get you much further up the cruise line food chain, faster and with more clout than you can get yourself.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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Kat:

I also know a couple of things about cruising and I am an easy client but a travel agent has always beat Carnival's and NCL's prices and added amenities to a Royal Caribbean cruise while offering the same price. No discounting on RCI.

I am an easy client. I call up, tell her the ship, the sailing date and the cabin category. I then ask "how much?". I already know what the going price is but I play a little dumb and see if it is matched, beat and/or what else will I get with the booking.

It feels good to book with the cruise line because you feel there is no middleman but you do not get the best price and when the rubber hits the road the Carnival rep will cover Carnival's butt before they cover yours. They will only go so far with the company that signs their check.

I see more and more people booking direct. The issue is that they have a bad experience with a bad travel agent or one of the online agencies that don't offer personal service or charge you if you call. I was burned on my first cruise by a bad agent and paid way too much for my cruise. However I learned that there are good agents out there and I use one for every cruise.

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Old April 28th, 2010, 07:34 PM
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As a travel agent myself I can certainly say this is an unfortunate trend. I have used a travel agent previously that would nickel and dime a client. I personally only charge two service fees. One is for air only, and the other is a returned check fee(to discourage people who write bad checks). These, in my opinion, are the only truly reasonable fees with the exception of groups where an agent may add on the cost of extra amenity points in order to purchase better or more group amenities.
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Old April 28th, 2010, 08:22 PM
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It seems to me you are being a bit hard on Kat. I take it for granted that any travel agent charging a service fee is making arrangements that take time to research - even beyond what the most well-traveled cruisers know.

For the most part, in my mind, that would not include the cruise. I mean I can pick a cruise myself and tell you what I want and I would know you are making the cruise line's commish.

But if I want to add renting a 4x4 with kayaks and fishing poles to that, along with shipping my personal coffee maker to the remote lake where I am going fishing, along with a raft ride down the rapids on the way home and having someone to pick up the tent...

That is the kind of travel you need a great travel agent for. I think they call it "independent travel"

Seriously, you get my point. If I want to take a Safari in Africa and I hear about an agent who has been on 10 safaris and knows exactly what to do, then I would gladly pay a small service fee rather than gamble on making a mistake.

Its all a matter of your knowledge, what you want, and how much time you have.

No one would write a cruise guidebook for free. I expect to be paid when I am doing hard work. That's what being a specialist is all about.
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Old April 29th, 2010, 02:54 AM
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Originally Posted by brad813 View Post
As a travel agent myself I can certainly say this is an unfortunate trend. I have used a travel agent previously that would nickel and dime a client. I personally only charge two service fees. One is for air only, and the other is a returned check fee(to discourage people who write bad checks). These, in my opinion, are the only truly reasonable fees with the exception of groups where an agent may add on the cost of extra amenity points in order to purchase better or more group amenities.
Brad.. perhaps you might want to read my blog this week...
Cruisemates Blog You Should Interview A Travel Agent As If You Were Hiring An Employee – Kuki

While I encourage your enthusiasm... I frankly think you have a lot of studying to do, to learn much more about cruising if you want to sell them

I see alot of your posts on the boards, saying you are a travel agent, and then asking questions, that frankly, what I consider a good agent would know. It's good that you are asking the questions, but it would help your carreer alot of it you studied and got your CLIA accredidation.

I'm honestly not trying to be mean here, but I'd likely recommend someone pay the fees KHolmes and Amberderossi charge, than book with someone still so "green behind the ears", with such limited knowledge of the industry.

All the folks who become travel agents by paying a fee, rather than doing the work, are those who hurt the business, by not being good agents.... and making it much easier for KHolmes and Amberderossi to justify charging their service fees.
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Old April 29th, 2010, 11:06 PM
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I am an active ACC enrollee, but having just started, there are times where I need the perspective of consumers in order to do the best job I can. Kuki, I certainly appreciate your concern, but I am working on earning certifications even now. I am certified with Carnival, NCL, Princess, and Cunard cruise lines and also have Starwood Hotels certification. I have just recently opened for business, and my posts last year were largely for my own benefit, not that of my business. I do find these forums to be a valuable business asset for when I cannot find the answers through my own research, which I usually can. As far as my two most recent posts go. The Alaska cruise I did wind up finding the answer before getting any responses. The Hawaii post was a simple matter of finding out consumer preference, so best to ask the consumers themselves. Again, thank you for your concern but I am doing well enough.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 01:00 PM
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This is an interesting topic of conversation and really highlights differences between agents thoughts and consumer thoughts in using a travel agent.

I’ve noticed reading these posts one thing really stands out most consumers comments on here go right to the heart, the price factor. If the price isn’t the lowest as possible the service is considered bad or they don’t need the service of an agent. As soon as they see a cheaper price the underlying tone is the service is bad. Folks, no travel agency is in the business of losing money it is that simple, neither is a cruise line. In a travel ageny that commission divided up goes for salaries, leases, equipment, rent, utilities etc…

Comparing a travel agency to a commissioned sales person is ridicules. Ninety-nine percent of the time a commissioned sales person are receiving a draw against commission simply because the mark-up is so much different. A good example, look at the store h.h. gregg sales philosophy. Even comparing a real-estate agent to a travel agent is crazy; a real-estate agent knows one product line the housing market. Now lets talk about experience, an appliance salesperson, car salesperson, and others are trained on one maybe two products with different variations and features, the real-estate agents knows one product the car sales person maybe three or four if they are a multi-dealer but basically the product is the same. Even dealing direct with the cruise line they only know one product there product. Dealing direct with the cruise line their goal is to put you on there ship no matter what your individual needs/requests are, you may be a Crystal cruise passenger and that Carnival agent will do there hardest to put you on there ships.

Now let’s consider a professional travel agent and I'm talking about a travel agent/agency who has made it a carrer, not someone in the business a year or two and has taken a class or two or purchased an instant homebased agent website. I'm talking about a true professional here.

As a consumer you expect the agent to know every little detail of every single ship, destination and document requirement without ever paying a dime to the agent. That agents next call, may be a person looking at several other ships that you where not considering and so on, factoring in there are a few hundred ships in the market today that is allot of information to soak in. When you call an agent, your call may be about a cruise, next call may be about Florida, their next call an island destination or Europe or China, how about South America, what about Russia, or Africa. Stop and truly think about that for a minute. On a simple cruise not only do they have to know about the ship but the destination and lets not forget travel document requirements or flights, transfers, pre or post accommodations the consumer may be questioning them about.

Can any of you as an individual know more about a specific ship then an agent absolutely! The key is, that is not a travel agents job to know that there are 175 hidden Mickey’s at Disneyland, or the color of the tile in your bathroom will be blue. There job is to know and understand your wants and needs, then find a product that fits your lifestyle to give you a good experience and value for your dollar. Notice I said value not cheapest! That is worth money, folks and that builds a relationship with the customer.

Remember there are just as many bad clients as there are bad travel agents.

We are reading these stories how consumers should be interviewing travel agents, yea that makes for good reading but who really cares. Also keep in mind while you’re taking that advice of the writer think about something, if your sitting down with a good travel agent, within the first 5-minutes of that so called interview that travel agent has already made up there mind if they will take you on as a client. Professional agents are not sitting around waiting for you to walk in, they are busy there books are full and they select there clients as well. That is something those articles don’t tell you.

Here is an example:
If you have a busy agency your day goes like this. Yesterday we had a woman walk in and tried to take over the sales process. She didn’t want to give her name, address or phone number and was demanding. While she did not provide the agent with little she did want the agent to provide her with all sorts of information and wanted brochures. Now, I know after the 30-minutes she was in here that person walked out of our office less then satisfied. Why? Because the sale process is a two way street. It’s like a computer if you put junk in a computer that is all you will ever get out of it, junk! If you don’t provide the agency with basic information needed to give you good service all you will ever get back from any agent is junk no matter how good the agent is. We did not even keep the little information the agent received from her, it went directly in the trash as this is not a client we would take on, but on the other hand she was not happy with us.

Every day we get several phone calls that go like this. Hello can I help you, yes what is your cheapest price for a Carnival cruise. Let me ask you a few questions. No I just want a price, well when do you want to go? Doesn't matter the cheapest. Okay so over 4th of July would be okay? no that is not good, okay so when? Like I said anytime. All this person is doing is giving the agent junk, Junk in, Junk out! Agents don’t have prices memorized in there head, that would be impossible and the caller was nothing more then a waste of time.

A travel agency is not a mini-market where you can walk in to make a purchase and see every price in 5-minutes. A travel agency business is like going to any other professional, you build a relationship with that professional. Folks, build a relationship with your travel agent/agency that is where you will reap the rewards time and time again.

If you are not loyal to the person your trying to do business with why in the world should they give you everything including the kitchen sink on the first sale. Sorry but that just doesnt' make any sense.

Last edited by tvlone; April 30th, 2010 at 01:08 PM.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 05:06 PM
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I love this last post - because I get the same ridiculous questions all the time just because we have a "customer service" email address. Now, keep in mind we don't sell cruises, but I questions here almost every day:

3 days ago:




Kindly let me know if there is a 3 day cruise to Vancouver from
either Bangkok or Kula Lumpur or Singapore around July 23, 2010.

One adult 2 children 14years and 16 years sharing room.
Would like special deal. thanks

I replied "Maybe on the space shuttle"

Do you match people to share rooms.?

Could you send us offer for boat rent with next characteristics:
Tupe Cruise ship
Capacity Around 500 pax
Date End of the December 2009.
Time One day
Rooms - mess room for 450 persons for dinner and supper - conference room for 450 persons - and room for entertainment program (music, culturic program


application to perform in your sheeps
we are african stars acrobats from zimbabwe .we do acrobatics which includes limpoo;tin act ;
pole;tambling;hoops etc so we put forwad our request what can we do

Just TODAY I got an email from someone who thinks I'm with MSC cruises.


I cruised on the Poesia on a weekend getaway on the 24 thru the 27 to Nassau from Fort Lauderdale. I stayed in Cabin 11112. As you know an amount of $150.00 was held for the duration of the cruise. When we disembarked we were told that the unused portion was released.

When I checked my account yesterday the hold had been put on again costing me a overdraft fee of $38.50. I checked again today and the $150.00 hold had been put through again today costing me another $38.50 overdraft fee. This was my first cruise and the whole experience has been a disaster. I had no intention of badmouthing your company. But since you seem to not have a care for your passengers I guess You really need to hear how the trip went.

A good portion of the staff was rude making us feel unwelcome. Your staff at the reservation desk was unable to answer any questions, some pretending to be unable to understand english. The food was not what you would expect on a cruise. There was limited entertainment.

Our server had problems getting our food to us because the other servers kept taking" his order when it came in. The only asset for your ship is that Houskeeping was very nice. Is it possible that your staff did not know that this was a group of Travel Agents there to evaluate the ship for recommendation to future clients? I will not be traveling with your cruise line again."

So, I wrote back and asked "this sounds bad, as a travel agent I assume you know who to contact for this?"

The reply was

"I was told that you were the person to contact. And no, I am not an agent. I was invited by an agent. But I will tell you that I have direct contact with over 100 people a month in my line of work and word of mouth can really be a blessing when all else fails. So if you are not the person I should be discussing this with then who. Maybe consumer affairs. Can you point me in the right direction?"

So, my next question to them is "why did you think I was the person to contact?"

I will guarantee you i will not hear backfrom them.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 05:17 PM
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Another question emailed to me?

Does the Pier has a parking? What is the price per day? Thank YOU very match. LP.


I have NO idea what pier they are talking about, and I have no idea why they think my email address is the right one to write to ask.
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Old April 30th, 2010, 08:34 PM
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As you have just explained, many people demand the impossible and should pay for it.

In the same breath, many passengers know what they want and are willing to search and investigate on their own ... to get what they want, without the interrogation, have a reason for going it alone.

While I agree that there are people who are just plain rude and demanding, please consider those of us who don't want to take chances with a considerably costly cruise with an agent who may or may not provide helpful information/service.

I guess what I'm saying is...I'd rather screw up myself than to rely on another to do it for me.

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Old April 30th, 2010, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tvlone View Post

A travel agency is not a mini-market where you can walk in to make a purchase and see every price in 5-minutes. A travel agency business is like going to any other professional, you build a relationship with that professional. Folks, build a relationship with your travel agent/agency that is where you will reap the rewards time and time again.

If you are not loyal to the person your trying to do business with why in the world should they give you everything including the kitchen sink on the first sale. Sorry but that just doesnt' make any sense.
I agree there can certainly be as many bad customers as their are bad agents. And I should say, though asked several times to become a travel agent for different agencies I wouldn't want the job. It is a tough job.

But the comments I see about bad customers uses the same generalizations that we see from people about "bad agents". It's somewhat sad that some agents are as cynical about their business as some customers are.

As I said in my blog, I think at least some of the responsibility for that is because there is no regulatory body governing travel agents. It leaves your industry's door wide open for alot of shenanigans unfortunately.

I also did talk about forming a long term relationship with the "great agent" once you find them, and I believe very strongly in that, and recommend it.

I disagee with your point of view that you shouldn't "give me everyting including the kitchen sink on the first sale". I think you should be giving "me" your very best from day 1, and all the time.

At least with me, that's how you earn my loyalty, without any games, and I'd think word of mouth from satisfied customers would be an agents bread and butter. I know when I came across what I considered "my great agent", I not only held on, but have sent a very considerable amount of business their way.

It does seem a bit odd to me that you want the customer to prove their worth to you first. They are the ones spending the money.

I do agree it's an interesting discussion, and very worthwhile sharing the various points of view.

Oh, and like Paul, I have tons of stories about the emails I receive. The one I really haven't figured out is why I get so many emails asking for jobs on my cruise line. Don't I wish.
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