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Old February 3rd, 2008, 01:45 PM
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Default What DO YOU Think of Travel AGENCIES charging cancellation??

While getting the group set up for our newest CruiseMates & John Heald Blog2NOLA Group cruise..... I've noticed it being offered in several places of course.

BUT.. I also noticed some agencies are charging their own CANCELLATION fees, regardless of the cruise line cancellation policies.

The agent handling this group for us DOES NOT charge their own cancellation fee.... and they say they do very well with this policiy.

I understand that travel agents have to make a buck to survive in this fairly tough business. But, I think they should survive by supplying great service, and building their business that way. Afterall they have chosen a commission based career.

At the very least they should tie their own cancellation fees to the final payment date. When people are booking a year out, it's very tough to foresee what may come up to interfere with the cruise.

Nice to ask for a $25 deposit cruise, but then charge $50 if you decide to cancel the next day seems odd to me!

Your thoughts?
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 01:52 PM
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Costco just started to charge a $25 change/canc fee they told me in December, so it's obviously getting more common. I was told if I had a good reason it would probably be waived at this time.

I never book with the idea of cancelling, but its nice to know you CAN cancel without it costing anything. Im more apt to call up and book way in advance. I think now Ill be a mite more cautious.

You mentioned the $25 deposit, I was under the impression those cruises with a $25 deposit if you cancelled you always lost your deposit. If you might change your mind it is safer to put down a full deposit. Its good to know that not all $25 deposits for cruises are non refundable.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 02:03 PM
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Default Booking fees, Cancellation fees! What a bunch of BS!

Kuki,
What I have also noticed within the last 4 weeks or so is that many online agencies that used to NOT charge a booking fee are now doing so.
So it's a double whammy, you get hit on both ends of the deal. I guess the cruiselines' shady way of doing business is trickling down to to the travel agencies now too.

I vote by my wallet, I do not patronize such businesses and I stay away from such businesses, period.

This reminds me of Las Vegas, the fashionable thing to do now among some of the Mega resorts there is to charge customers a Resort Fee, a Telephone fee and I have also seen an Electricity/Power Surcharge, all naturally charged on a daily basis. BS if you ask me. We go to Vegas often and out list of properties to stay at is getting shorter and shorter.
Just my 02 cents on the subject.


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Old February 3rd, 2008, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
You mentioned the $25 deposit, I was under the impression those cruises with a $25 deposit if you cancelled you always lost your deposit. If you might change your mind it is safer to put down a full deposit. Its good to know that not all $25 deposits for cruises are non refundable.
If they are keeping the $25 deposits, it IS the agencies CHOICE.

It was putting together Bloggers 2 Cruiise that really brought this to my attention. Our agent is actually charging a $50 pp deposit. (totally refundable)

The reason is one of the Cruise Line's silly policies that allow the agent to keep unsold cabins longer with the higher deposits. HOWEVER, the entire $50 deposit is totally refundable!


I guess I got a bit riled thinking that in regard to some cruises agencies charging the cancellation fee may have more to gain hoping the guets cancel.... and thefefore could supply questionable service to encourage that.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 02:45 PM
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I am an agent and have thought about the $25.00 cancellation fee but have not started doing it. I've also thought about charging a $25.00 fee for searching for travel for clients, should they actually book travel the $25.00 would be applied to their deposit. The reasoning is that I have had those who call and ask me to find them say a cruise on such and such a date. I spend my time finding what they have requested only to be told they think they will wait. I'm sure they are going to other agencies, or on-line, which I understand, but I've still spent hours doing what they requested only to get nothing out of it. If they have to pay a fee up front and know that if they book with me it will be applied to the deposit at least I am not working for nothing. So far I have not charged any extra fees or cancelation fees as I do my best to offer clients the best service I can and it has paid off for me. I will keep doing this and hope that I never have to charge the extras.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 04:13 PM
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I called a place I found with a cruise search for a disney cruise. Luckily for me for some reason they couldnt get the booking to go thru. First they said they had a $19.95 booking fee, then she says after I asked twice they also have a $70.00 cancellation fee. She says well she can ask her boss, she can waive one or the other.

I dont mind a $25 fee for cancelling, but I think more than that is trying to make money from the booking. I also am not in favor of a $25 "change" fee, I realized I had friends at the 6:15 dining time I wanted to link with and I had picked 5:45 pm when I booked and later wanted to change my requested dining time, is this a $25 change? If I cancel is the $25 per booking or per person? I think as they start to add more fees, there are going to be more complaints.

I now heard lately, booking fees, change fees and cancellation fees.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 05:08 PM
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I don't agree with the policy of a cancellation fee. It has stopped me from booking with certain agencies that now charge the fee. One in particular.

Very pleased with the agency handling our bookings for Blog2. She was able to grab my 1A cabin when I released it from CCL. I love the location. I like being on the same deck as the lobby bar!! 8)
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoozeman
I don't agree with the policy of a cancellation fee. It has stopped me from booking with certain agencies that now charge the fee. One in particular.

Very pleased with the agency handling our bookings for Blog2. She was able to grab my 1A cabin when I released it from CCL. I love the location. I like being on the same deck as the lobby bar!! 8)
Someone on the Bloggers2 cruise, please make sure you guys give Snoozeman a sobriety test one night! See how straight he can walk to his cabin, if he fails, make him walk the plank!


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Old February 3rd, 2008, 06:02 PM
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I book all my cruises online - and most vendors have a fee for canceling or even changing the date of the cruise. Icruise charges $45 per person if you cancel (even the next day after you book it). For this reason I now book directly through the cruise lines website or over the phone.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sistagoldenhair
I book all my cruises online - and most vendors have a fee for canceling or even changing the date of the cruise. Icruise charges $45 per person if you cancel (even the next day after you book it). For this reason I now book directly through the cruise lines website or over the phone.
Very true, a lot of the big online agencies are doing just that. Don't blame you at all. You still have the option of moving your reservation to a local TA that you are familiar with as long as it's before the final payment (unless it's a group). I won't deal with them anymore either.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sistagoldenhair
I book all my cruises online - and most vendors have a fee for canceling or even changing the date of the cruise. Icruise charges $45 per person if you cancel (even the next day after you book it). For this reason I now book directly through the cruise lines website or over the phone.
Well.. that's all well and good too, but the money you are saving in cancellation fees or booking fees, you're genearlly paying out in extra fares by not booking with a travel agent.

I disagree with you when you say "most vendors". There's some.... but lots of reputable agents who still don't charge booking and cancellations fees. And will STILL discount from their commissions to offer you a better price.

I think the cruise lines are loving this direction agencies are going.... thus encouraging people like you to book direct, and therefore put more profit into the cruise lines pocket, since they don't have to pay commissions.

CLIA (the agents marketing arm) and some of their travel agents are doing a great job the last few years of shooting themselves in the foot! Business got tough and they've encouraged the cruise lines to take actions which are going to end up burying alot more travel agencies, because aside from the competition of other travel agencies, they've asked for and received, to be in direct competition with the cruise lines.

I wrote articles about this phenomena for CruiseMates. Travel agencies messed up, and if they keep this up are soon enough to going to be out of business. It's a shame because I've also been a huge supporter of booking with travel agents, because you save money.

YOU STILL CAN WITH MANY.... but now you have to be aware of all those sneaking in booking and cancellation fees. I'd encourage everyone simply do so some shopping,and find those that do not for all your future business.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 06:27 PM
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Is there an easy way to find out who the travel agents are that do not charge the fees?? I could just call a few and ask I guess!! I though the only way to get around the cancellation fees was to book direct with the cruise lines. Thanks for the info - I'm looking to book soon for Jan 09.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 06:48 PM
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To start with I'd highly recommend reading this two part series I wrote.

http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/...ectoragent.cfm

Then as you shop for a good travel agent, when you call or email come right out and ask if they have booking or cancellation fees... even before asking for a quote for a cruise.
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 07:50 PM
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I read your article - thank you very much for sending the link to it. I did not realize the prices were structured that way. I will be shopping for a local cruise agent to book my next cruise. I cruise twice a year (usually) and it would be nice to get some personalized service.

Thanks again for the info!!!!
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 11:31 PM
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Default booking fee's...

HI everyone;

We are a two person travel agency and the only fee we charge is to book an airline ticket, 30.00 total. We agree that this is a commission business and we understood that when we opened two years ago. We have lots of repeat clients and we know that money is an issue with them as well as new clients. Its all part of doing business, keeping our costs down as well as our clients.

My 2 cents worth;

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Old February 4th, 2008, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
We are a two person travel agency and the only fee we charge is to book an airline ticket, 30.00 total
I understand completely about air... since the airlines quit paying commissions. But they got what they wanted, with many people now booking their air directly.

I for one DON'T want the cruise industry going the same route because it will be worse for consumers. Sadly, it is edging its way there.

I do understand Travel Agents deserve to be paid for their work. But, years back I worked in commission sales (retail). I to could spend hours working with/for clients and end up without a sale. That was (and still is) a part of the nature of the job.

The thing that should be noted and it should be obvious that I am PRO travel agent. But I'm only pro travel agents who do and build their business giving cruisers the best deals they can, and still supply great service. I know it's possible, because I know agents who do very well doing just that! It's not easy (and that's why I never became a TA ) but it is possible!
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Old February 4th, 2008, 12:25 AM
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Sorry guys,

Just another reason I book my own travel.


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Old February 4th, 2008, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimRuth
Sorry guys,

Just another reason I book my own travel.


Tim
I would to, except I've found (and I know there are many more) great agents who I know can save me money.

That's a good part of the reason I even posted on this matter.... these agencies which now charge non-refundable fees think they are doing it to make money. But in my view it's going to drive business away from travel agents in general.

Just like when the agents begged the cruise lines for flat pricing, these people are blindly shooting themselves in the foot with their lack of vision.

I think kudos and SUPPORT should go to the agencies which still believe in working for their sales and profits with good prices and great service!! The old saying... nothing in life is guaranteed holds true for cruise bookings too.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 01:11 AM
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Kuki.................

Thanks for the support! We agree that a travel agency needs to make the customer number 1. It is very easy to lose a customer and very hard to try and get that person back! I think some people think they are saving money booking travel online and in some cases that is 100% true. In many cases the "vendor" just keeps the comission as extra profit but that is part of the current business. I to hope cruise lines will keep paying the comissions and not end up like the airlines.

No matter what we try to do our best for our clients. When you are small that is something you always look out for! Happy cruising!

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Old February 4th, 2008, 01:47 AM
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I understand. Im just one of the people that calls the company i want to use. Be it a cruiseline, hotel, airline, whatever. You really dont save that much using an online agency. Id rather pay a few extra bucks if I have a problem, I can take care of it. I used a TA before, and we had a problem and that person could not be reached to help. We went round and round the office and nobody either would or could help.

Now I know that there are GREAT TA's out there. My work schedule is one that affords me time at work that I can plan just about anything. Up to and including world domination I'm sure ( hotel business isnt what it used to be ) So, for me its just easier to do it myself. I dont have the patience to hunt down a good TA in my area. The ones we do have are hacks ( small town ) they charge sooooo much more than the average joe can get the travel for. Example, we are going on the glory in May. Total cost is $1642.18 for the 7day eastern. Inside cabin on deck 10. That same trip with the locals is over $2000. Is that normal?


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Old February 4th, 2008, 02:23 AM
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Tim..

I agree that a travel agent should know his product and that a customer derserves a fair price. Your example is an excellent one! Being a small agency in a smaller city we knew customer service had to be number 1.
Many clients are like you and know what they are looking for and what is a fair price. Your post makes lots of good points!!

Thanks;

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Old February 4th, 2008, 06:35 AM
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LeeandKelli, you are right on about the customer service, that is the most importatnt thing for a TA. I to am a small agency in a very small town but thanks to good service I keep my clients and keep them happy. I have clients who belong to AAA but come to me because I give better service and usually can get a better rate. I do belong to a very good host agency and consortium that helps me get the better rates. I'm glad that folks on this site realize that good service is mandatory. I am availiable to my clients 24/7 should they need me and that is a big plus to my clients. My cell phone is my life line to my business and never go anywhere without it.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
I dont have the patience to hunt down a good TA in my area. The ones we do have are hacks ( small town ) they charge sooooo much more than the average joe can get the travel for. Example, we are going on the glory in May. Total cost is $1642.18 for the 7day eastern. Inside cabin on deck 10. That same trip with the locals is over $2000. Is that normal?
Tim...

I haven't booked with a local agent since my first cruise in '94, and I didn't know there were ways to save money, or get bonus amenities.

I haven't used on since, but the one's I have used are local to whoever happens to live near them

Many "local" agents also have an prescence on the Internet. I don't need to see an agent face to face, if I can talk to them on the telephone, and via email, to me it's the same as personal contact.

If you get lucky and find a great agent in your town or city it's nice to support your local economy. However if they don't know the business, or charge higher prices, it's silly to use them.

On some lines pricing is set, because of cruise line policiies, so we're stuck... BUT finding an agent who has the set pricing (so full commissions) and charges extra cancellation fees as well is insulting to me. They make me feel like I'm being ROBBED.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Kuki...

We agree you are being robbed if anyone in the travel business is charging any fee's that are excessive. That is a good point! We do a lot of our business by email, phone and face to face. If anyone feels comfortable booking "online" then that is fine to. We just feel that the personal touch is the way to go. Like the lady said you need to treat your clients good and offer FAIR pricing and GOOD service. Sometimes you need that 24 hour service that makes client know you do care. I guess its the buyers choice and we need to always do our best or you won't be in this business to long. Thanks for listening to us.

Guess that is why we need that cruise.........just to unwind...... .

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