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Old October 6th, 2018, 11:18 AM
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Why is one travel Agent better than another ? They all have to charge the same price ?
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Old October 6th, 2018, 11:50 AM
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One thing that I believe that makes one TA better than another is service. A good TA will make sure that you're satisfied before, during and after your vacation. Service and availability are just a couple of key factors.
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Old October 6th, 2018, 01:42 PM
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I agree that it's all about service. A reputable agent cares about their clients and wants to make sure they're happy.

Quite frankly, I hate most travel agents. I've been involved with travel for about 25 years before I started my own company 16-1/2 years ago, so I've seen alot and heard alot. Unfortunately, many are sales people and to them it's all about making money and not providing good service.

I've attended many seminars and all they do is talk about how much they've sold, how much they make, etc, etc. I hear this all the time.

They brag about the CLIA credentials they hold. CLIA stands for Cruise Lines International Association, that most of us belong to. If an agent takes alot of their courses, they attain certain levels, such as MCC or Master Cruise Counselor. The problem is that the overwhelming amount of courses are nothing more than to teach someone how to sell. And that's basically their sole purpose to to get agents to sell more.

Like any other sales positions, to most it's all about selling, period.

The thing is you never want to book directly with the cruise line. When you call them, you're dealing with someone who works in a call center and has never even been on a cruise - they're just there to sell you something. If you have any problems, who do you think they represent?

It's always best to work with an agent, because they usually have a great deal of personal experience to help make your cruise more enjoyable. Plus, they want you happy, because they want your return business. And, should you have any problems, they have contact information not available to you and can often get things done that you can't accomplish on your own. As you stated, they all charge the same price, so it becomes more about service than anything else.

Lastly, agents may have access to group pricing and/or amenities that make it better than what the cruise line is offering. They'll always be able to offer exactly what they cruise line is offering and sometimes more.

When looking for an agent, it's best to seek one who specializing in what you're looking for. We once went on a cruise and sat with 2 ladies during lunch. I asked the one next to me what she did and she proudly announced she was a travel agent with AAA. I didn't tell her I was an agent, but I asked how long she had been doing it. She was pleased to say she had been an agent for 20 years. I made the comment that she must have been on alot of cruises during that time. She said, "No. Actually, this is my first one." I had to ask her how could she sell something she knew nothing about and her partner chimed in that she was very good at it. I thought to myself that she must be very good at lying to people.

Ask alot of questions of a perspective agent; find out how many cruises they've been on, how many cruise lines, and ports they've been to. How long have they been in business? How many clients do they have? Check out their website and see how professional it looks. Look at reviews.

A good agent will ask you alot of questions to find out how many cruises you've been on and which ones. They'll get as much information as they can, so they can best help you.

And if an agent starts recommending or pushing something, run the other way. A good agent will offer information, so that you can make a decision on what's best for you. When they start pushing something, it's usually in their best interest not yours.

And lastly, if an agent says they need cash, check, money order, or debit card, run the other way. If they say they are going to charge your credit card, don't do business with them. The agent is supposed to be the middle person between you and the vendor, and will always have the vendor charge your credit card. That way should something happen to the agent, the vendor still has your money and you're still going on your vacation.

But again, always use an agent, because their assistance can be invaluable and since the best ones don't charge any fees, it makes sense to use their expertise at no charge.

Pete
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Old October 7th, 2018, 10:25 AM
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A good travel agent provides with great service. I have had a lot of help from travel agents.

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Old October 7th, 2018, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manuel View Post
A good travel agent provides with great service. I have had a lot of help from travel agents.

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We have been using a TA for several years but she recently left the agency.We do not know if we want to use a different person from her agency or go with someone new.
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Old October 7th, 2018, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Lakers Fan View Post
We have been using a TA for several years but she recently left the agency.We do not know if we want to use a different person from her agency or go with someone new.

Go with one who has his or her own office. I have a great one in Connecticut and a great one in Florida.


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Old October 8th, 2018, 09:35 AM
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I have used TA's, online agents and cruise line to book and in almost 30 cruises we have only had one problem and were able to fix it on board without much trouble. Have received the very same level of service form all that we have booked with, so for us I just look to see who has the best price for
whatever cruise we want to take.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 09:20 PM
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Never book directly with the cruise lines, always with an experience cruise Tavel agency.
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Old October 10th, 2018, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip View Post
Never book directly with the cruise lines, always with an experience cruise Tavel agency.
Have done that many times and have never had a problem. The one time there was a problem it was not a big deal and the person on board was able to fix in ten minutes, it had nothing to do with our cabin or dining time just the color of one of our cards.
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Old October 10th, 2018, 05:18 PM
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I donít want an order taker booking my cruise. Why not let a knowledgeable professional work for you...when and if things go wrong , they are there to help, this I know...
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Old October 10th, 2018, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip View Post
I donít want an order taker booking my cruise. Why not let a knowledgeable professional work for you...when and if things go wrong , they are there to help, this I know...
Guess we have been lucky as we have never had a problem that required any real time to fix, only the one time with Bruce's card being wrong which they fixed on the ship no problem. We have always gotten the cabin we were supposed to, got dining time we were supposed to, if any free drink package we got that, OBC we got that.
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Old October 10th, 2018, 09:42 PM
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I would not book a cruise without a travel agent. I have got a lot of help from them in the past.


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Mercury 4/2000+4/2006+7/2007
Sensation 4/2002
Infinity 4/2003
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Solstice 4/2009
Oasis 4/2010+4/13/2013
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Old October 10th, 2018, 10:31 PM
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Having been involved in travel for over 20 years, before starting my own company almost 17 years ago, and knowing what I know now, if I were not in the business and wanted to book something, I would definitely only go through an agent to book my travel. Given that the prices and amenities are the same, except that sometimes the agent can get better pricing or amenities, it's all about service. Plus, as the saying goes, loyalty has its privileges and if you show them loyalty, they'll repay it to your advantage.

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Old October 11th, 2018, 12:23 PM
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I have owned my travel agency since 2001 both online and brick and mortar. I have encountered many types of travelers. I pride myself on educating my clients and encouraging them to get as much information and education that they can. I am there to assist them with this learning curve so that when they do come to me we are talking apples to apples. For the new comers this takes more time and effort on my part and that's fine. One thing I have never done is to tell people not to book directly with the cruise line simply because people do and that's their choice. Some of my clients do it and then transfer their reservation to me. Over the years I have run into some very savvy people who are very comfortable with dealing direct and if a problem did arise they were able to resolve it. I don't rock their boat. Those who aren't so comfortable use a TA and that's fine too. That's why I'm here.
Now having said all that, the cruise lines have guidelines and rules. If a problem arises that falls within those guidelines and rules sometimes not even your agent has much leverage to get a positive result. Every agent is different. Some say do book direct and some say don't. I happen to say if you do book direct know what you're doing (education) and if you don't then I'm here for you.
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Old October 11th, 2018, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seadog2 View Post
I have owned my travel agency since 2001 both online and brick and mortar. I have encountered many types of travelers. I pride myself on educating my clients and encouraging them to get as much information and education that they can. I am there to assist them with this learning curve so that when they do come to me we are talking apples to apples. For the new comers this takes more time and effort on my part and that's fine. One thing I have never done is to tell people not to book directly with the cruise line simply because people do and that's their choice. Some of my clients do it and then transfer their reservation to me. Over the years I have run into some very savvy people who are very comfortable with dealing direct and if a problem did arise they were able to resolve it. I don't rock their boat. Those who aren't so comfortable use a TA and that's fine too. That's why I'm here.
Now having said all that, the cruise lines have guidelines and rules. If a problem arises that falls within those guidelines and rules sometimes not even your agent has much leverage to get a positive result. Every agent is different. Some say do book direct and some say don't. I happen to say if you do book direct know what you're doing (education) and if you don't then I'm here for you.
If there was a LIKE button I would like this post.
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Old October 11th, 2018, 08:59 PM
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I've been doing this for more than 40 years and the one thing I learned is that if you book directly with the cruise line and have a problem, who do you think they represent? I have dozens of examples where someone booked directly with them and had problems, only to be left to their own devices. Where I've had dozens of the exact same situations crop up where we were able to solve the problem quickly and easily. Yes, there are times that no one can help solve the problem, but it's always better to have someone on your side working for you who has contact information you don't have access to trying to solve the problem than trying to do it yourself with no help whatsoever. I've heard on occasions where a cruise line told a client they can't do something, when in fact they can. Of course the client didn't know that until they talked with me. So, never take the cruise line's word for something, as many times it's simply not true or distorted, or they simply don't want to spend the time helping you.

There was a study done a few years ago that found more than 95% of the time, when you call the cruise line, you're dealing with someone who works in a call center, has worked in the cruise industry for less than 6 months, is not a certified travel agent, does not have E&O (Errors & Omissions) insurance, has never been on a cruise, and has never been to any of the ports. Their knowledge is limited to selling and not in providing service. Plus, when you call them, they not only not only know almost nothing about their cruise line, but they have no clue about any of the other cruise lines. Their job is to sell, not to provide very useful and helpful information that would make your cruise more enjoyable and with less hassle.

First time cruisers especially need hand holding and someone who is willing to spend the great deal of time and effort to help them find the best cruise for them. They get confused easily and each cruise line they call gives them different information, further confusing the issue. And to add fuel to the fire, all of these misleading advertised specials will really cause problems and misunderstandings. Do you really think the cruise line call center phone rep is going to spend time explaining all the nuances associated with these specials? They don't explain the differences between guarantee cabins or cabin assignments, let alone non-refundable versus refundable deposit fares. They don't care your cabin is below a noisy area, next to an elevator, or in the very front of the ship where you might feel more motion of the ocean.

As time goes on lately, these things get more and more confusing, especially for those who aren't savvy cruisers.

Of course, for those who have booked alot of cruises and know many of the ins and outs, booking online or directly with the cruise line is fine. Many are comfortable doing their own thing - and that's great for them.

But given that more than 85% of Americans have never cruised before, the overwhelming majority of those looking to cruise need help and this requires a personal service you just don't get booking directly with the cruise line.

I've spent up to 2 hours talking with people who have never cruised before and are full of questions. That's not a problem, but they wouldn't get that kind of service calling the cruise line, let alone having to call each one of them in order to compare all of them.

And as for agents, it's like any other profession; some are definitely better than others. If you have a transmission in your car is it better to take it to a general mechanic or to a transmission specialist? If you needed your taxes done, would you go to an accountant or a tax specialist? So, when you're talking cruises, it's always better to work with a cruise specialist.

Like many agents, people can book with me online. While that's fine for some, I tell them I much prefer to work with them on a more personal one-on-one basis. I'm old school and I've always tried to be loyal to businesses who treat me well, so I like to pass along that sentiment to my loyal clients. Unlike the cruise lines who will never contact people and let them know the price went down, I absolutely love to find specials for my clients that will make their vacation cheaper or nicer. Cruise lines won't book you into group space that will provide you a better rate and/or extra amenities. We pre-book over 90,000 cabins into group space every year, so if a client is going on a cruise where we have group space, we'll immediately get them into the space and provide a better rate and/or more amenities than what the cruise line is offering. Love it when we can do that!

So, yes, while booking directly with the cruise line is fine for some, it's definitely not the best way to go for everyone, especially new cruisers or for those who like to work with someone who will provide a more personal service and look after their best interest.

Pete
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Old October 12th, 2018, 12:09 PM
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Certainly a long post and some very good points. When you start talking about newer cruisers not knowing about guarantee cabins, noisy cabins, cabin locations and such I always cover those points with them weather they ask or not. I don't however cover E&O insurance because that's for me. If they come into my agency my credentials are hanging on the wall. If online or on the phone I inform them. Over the years I have compiled a extensive check list of points, questions and possibilities that I cover. I make my existing clients and my newer clients feel comfortable about what they are doing and about spending their money.
I know some agents are against booking direct because they believe that the cruise line will only protect their own interests fact is they want your business, they want you as a repeat customer and they do want to satisfy you. Statistics are fine but I always take them with a grain of salt.
Fact is, now a days if you book direct and have done so in the past all cruise line call centers are computerized and keep a file on you. They can see how many time you've called, what was discussed, what you've booked in the past and what your preferences are. They can see if you're a good client or a problem child. If people want to book direct then I say more power to them, if not then I am glad to assist.
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