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Old May 18th, 2014, 03:21 PM
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Default Travel Agents Know the Best Cruise Secrets

Good article about why it's always best to book with a travel agent, especially for those who are new to cruising;

Travel agents know the best cruise secrets - Cruises - MiamiHerald.com

Then again, I am a bit prejudice, but it's nice to hear what others have to say on the matter.

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Old May 19th, 2014, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
Good article about why it's always best to book with a travel agent, especially for those who are new to cruising;

Travel agents know the best cruise secrets - Cruises - MiamiHerald.com

Then again, I am a bit prejudice, but it's nice to hear what others have to say on the matter.

Pete
Pete, I wish I could find one of these knowledgable agents. Maybe you can offer some tips on how to locate one?

It was a TA who put us onto both HAL and Celebrity ships. Not a good match at all. We knew all about the "secret stairs" on the Epic and booked an aft facing cabin right next door. In the very crowded buffet at lunch, we knew how to get to the "secret" dining room. We dined daily in front of huge forward facing windows with a handful of other people who were in on the secret.

But we didn't learn about either of those things from an agent, but from other knowledgable cruisers on boards like this one.

And then there is that pesky little commission thing which can influence (IMO) the advise someone is given. Not saying it always does. I have heard from others that a certain triple alphabet agency, and maybe others, do not book anyone on NCL because of that. I do not want to be steered to RCI just because the agent/agency is trying for some top seller award or something.

But I think the rewards a TA can offer are great, and more than you would get just booking direct with the cruiseline, and that is why I often use one. I have loved having someone who can deal with calling the cruiseline for me to get things taken care of. But I have yet to find that guy you and this article talk about. So I will still do my own homework and try to be an informed consumer.
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Old May 19th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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Pete, I wish I could find one of these knowledgable agents. Maybe you can offer some tips on how to locate one?

It was a TA who put us onto both HAL and Celebrity ships. Not a good match at all. We knew all about the "secret stairs" on the Epic and booked an aft facing cabin right next door. In the very crowded buffet at lunch, we knew how to get to the "secret" dining room. We dined daily in front of huge forward facing windows with a handful of other people who were in on the secret.

But we didn't learn about either of those things from an agent, but from other knowledgable cruisers on boards like this one.

And then there is that pesky little commission thing which can influence (IMO) the advise someone is given. Not saying it always does. I have heard from others that a certain triple alphabet agency, and maybe others, do not book anyone on NCL because of that. I do not want to be steered to RCI just because the agent/agency is trying for some top seller award or something.

But I think the rewards a TA can offer are great, and more than you would get just booking direct with the cruiseline, and that is why I often use one. I have loved having someone who can deal with calling the cruiseline for me to get things taken care of. But I have yet to find that guy you and this article talk about. So I will still do my own homework and try to be an informed consumer.
Travelbuggs,

Good post. I agree that there are a number of "good" agents out there but the sad thing is that there are more who are not "good". These are the agents that basically take your reservation and that's it. I've had experience with a number of these in personal interaction and from people who have used the bad agent. A number of years ago I would just stop by different travel agencies, the auto club one included, and ask them about cruises. Almost always I got the deer in headlights gaze or they tried to sell me a "specific" cruise. Most of the agents had never cruised or had only done one or two. One "high end" agency here in the Minneapolis area tried to sell me a Celebrity cruise at brochure price. I just about choked. I called the agent on this practice and I was shown out of the office.

I also had a bad experience with a couple of "franchise" agents of the largest cruise agency. These people were just doing it as a way to get lower priced cruises and could care less about doing anything more than taking your order. Yes, they go through "training" and have to pass a test but the test is more on how to book a reservation than it is on how to select a cruise for a client. I booked with one and canceled when she would not even contact the cruise line because of a SIGNIFICANT price drop six months before final payment was due. I booked with another agent and received the discount even though the cruise line initially denied it because it was not considered a new booking. I use this agent to this day.

The thing is that by the time I found a good agent I was at a point where I knew as much about cruising, pricing, cabin selection, discounts, promotions and other cruise related topics as 95% of travel agents. Now, I basically call up, give my agent my sailing date, ship and cabin number and she books it. I do have to make sure that she has entered the right rate code and has got me the lowest price. I already know what the price will be before I call her. There have been times she's out of town and a specific cabin I want becomes available. On those times I have booked directly with the cruise line. Bad experiences with agents are a significant reason people book directly with the cruise line.

The sad part is that there are so many "order takers" and bad agents out there that the novice cruiser has to wade through a lot of chaff to get to a good one. The negative is that this wading costs a lot of money and often results in a bad cruise and a bad opinion of agents and cruising. Especially if the novice learns that it didn't have to be that way.

The best thing I know for a novice to do is to find someone who is an experienced cruiser and get an agent recommendation from them. There is a reason why people keep booking with one agent. They get what they need.

Take care,
Mike
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Old May 19th, 2014, 05:16 PM
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Funny.... I know the gentleman who wrote that article, I have cruised with him several times. He is a pro writer and very experienced, although he comes from a travel writer background, not a travel agent background.

To me the two main advantages to having a travel agent are:

1) they are a fresh pair of eyes to look over all your dates, transfer times, etc. and they will help you avoid making logistic mistakes. That fact is that travel is complicated and trying to do it all on your own makes it easy to slip up.

2) They are there to represent you to the travel supplier as an independent third party. So, why would they do that? Because that travel supplier will still need that travel agent tomorrow.

It always kills me when somebody writes a cruise line a letter that says "That was the worst cruise ever, I will never cruise with you again. Meanwhile, I demand that you refund half of my cruise fare for ___ "

The just told that cruise line they are never cruising with them again - and then they expect them to give them a refund? That's like breaking up with a girl but asking if you can have one last "fling" because she "owes it to you" for being a bad girlfriend.

Anyway - I am like Mike. I already know what I want in most cases, but I trust a travel agent more than the supplier, because the supplier has no reason to help me if I end up an unsatisfied customer.

TravelBuggs, you mentioned ending up on ships you did not like? Can you please tell us those stories, as in what you told the travel agent, and why you did NOT end up liking the ships they booked for you?
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Old May 19th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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Travel agents are like any other profession; there are good ones and bad ones. The same thing can be said about any profession; auto mechanic, accountant, lawyer, dentist, etc, etc. Once you find one you like and trust, you want to stay with them, develop a working relationship, and become 'part of the family', so to speak. So you ask yourself, why do you like your mechanic, or your dentist? Would you prefer to find another one? And yes, there is a trick is to finding one you like. Like anything else you do in life, you have those things you like and dislike, whether it be a restaurant, favorite beach, or cruise line.

As I always say, what one person likes, another will hate. Some people love McDonalds, others love Burger King, some like both, others hate both. It's what makes the world go round.

So how do you weed out the good ones from the bad ones in any profession? You ask alot of questions. Sometimes you the relationship will 'click' and sometimes it won't. Often times just your 'gut' feeling will tell you alot about someone, whether it be establishing a business relationship or a friendship with a new neighbor.

But with any profession, there are generalists and specialists. If you're having a problem with your eye, would you prefer to see your general practitioner or an opthomalogist? So, if you're looking to do a cruise, do you want to see out the advice of someone who tries to know everything about everything while knowing nothing about most things, or do you want to find someone who is a cruise specialist?

It always gets me though that people will take their $50,000 car into one of these chain stores, talk to the person at the desk, then have a mechanic they don't know anything about work on it. Then, on top of that, they'll spend thousands of dollars paying for the repairs and never ask for any onboard credit or free dinner like they do with a travel agent! Never understand why people think it's perfectly normal to ask a hardworking individual to take money out of their own pocket to encourage someone else to do business with them. It's like buying business. And to them it's more important to get that onboard credit than it is to get good service. They'll book online with a company they know nothing about and have no idea if they're reputable or not simply because they're offering some onboard credit. They don't ask their mechanic, dentist, or accountant for a rebate to determine if they should hire them or not. Most of the time, they don't even ask the price before hire them. So why do people treat agents any differently? First thing out of their mouth is a question asking how much is the agent willing to give to them?

As I've always said, the best price is not always the best deal. I get calls all the time from people who booked with these large places or online only to find out they can't get any help with a problem.

Bottom line, as I mentioned earlier, there are good agents and bad agents. So to find one you like, ask alot of questions, such as; how long have they been in business? How many cruises have they been on? Where have they been? Which cruise lines? Check out their website and look at all the various pages. Is it professional looking? Is it sterile with no personal information anywhere? (I'd rather they have some personal stuff on there instead of just buying a corporate stamped out website.)

And when talking to them about a cruise, do they ask alot of questions about you; what you like, where you've been, what cruise lines have you been on, if you liked them or not, where do you like to stay, etc, etc. An agent should get to know you so when discussing possible cruises, they're not looking at ones that won't work out well for you. And stay away from those who are always recommending! And this is especially true if they're only recommending one thing. When someone is recommending, they are subtly pushing you in a direction you may not want to go. Remember, and sorry to be repetitious, but it's important to understand that everyone is different and what one person likes, another will hate. Just because an agent loves or hates something does not necessarily mean you will feel the same way. A good agent will offer you options and explain the good things and bad things about those options. A good agent is not there to sell you something! A good agent is there to give you as much information as you can handle so that you can make an informed decision on what's right for you based on your lifestyle, requirements, and budget. It's your vacation and they want you happy because they want your repeat business and your referrals.

The one thing though, after doing this for a long time and knowing what I know now, if I were not in the business and was booking a cruise, I would only use an agent. I would never book through an online site and I would definitely never book directly with the cruise line. A good agent is worth their weight in gold, especially when you have a problem. They have contacts and resources not available to passengers that can be of great assistance when needed.

But the bottom line is to find a good agent you trust and can build a good working relationship with. Let them work for you so you don't have to do all the work yourself. Then stick with them - loyalty has its privileges!

Pete
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Old May 20th, 2014, 12:13 AM
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I agree Pete! Glad I found a good one!
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Old May 20th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post

Anyway - I am like Mike. I already know what I want in most cases, but I trust a travel agent more than the supplier, because the supplier has no reason to help me if I end up an unsatisfied customer.

TravelBuggs, you mentioned ending up on ships you did not like? Can you please tell us those stories, as in what you told the travel agent, and why you did NOT end up liking the ships they booked for you?
Looking back at those cruises, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how we ended up where we did, but in thinking about it, I probably had as much to do with it as the TA!

Back then, I really knew little about cruising. My research consisted of not much more than turning the pages of some glossy brochure. I did not understand the differences between cruise lines, or even know that there WERE differences! Budget was a big consideration at the time as well. The agent probably did the best she could, based on the information she had, but she did not do much in the way of educating us on cruising. When she said, I think you would probably like X, it's a little more "upscale" than some of the lines, I probably thought, "well, that has to be a good thing"! We found out quickly that upscale sometimes means "pretentious" to us. We were not comfortable in forced formality.

Now, I have a lot more hindsight, based on several cruises with various cruiselines, and I now know what works for us and what doesn't. I do lots of research, and firmly believe that if you don't know what to expect on the ship you are booked on, you should have NO expectations at all. You can read a good and a bad review from the same sailing date and can just tell that those folks who were disappointed had NO idea what to expect on their particular ship. It was not what they wanted or expected and they were therefore very unhappy and blamed the cruiseline, when in fact they were maybe just on the wrong ship.

Now, I research to the point of obsession, according to my DH. Like you and Mike, I already know where I want to go and on what ship. I usually talk to a professional to handle the booking. But I don't think you can travel successfully without doing your own research, and lots of it. I read every review I can find from other cruisers for the pros and cons of the ship. If I know what to expect, I know how to work around it, and I can avoid disappointment. If I had done that on some of our early cruises, we would probably have had a much better time.
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Old May 20th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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When someone mentions secret passageways and secret doors on a ship; how would a travel agent know these unless they have been on that ship. I know there are agents who are cruise specialists; but unless they have been on every cruise line and every ship; they won't know these secrets. So what do we do; we become members of cruise mates travel blog and forums and learn all we can about the secrets doors and other goodies.
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Old May 20th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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When someone mentions secret passageways and secret doors on a ship; how would a travel agent know these unless they have been on that ship. I know there are agents who are cruise specialists; but unless they have been on every cruise line and every ship; they won't know these secrets. So what do we do; we become members of cruise mates travel blog and forums and learn all we can about the secrets doors and other goodies.
Exactly!!! And even IF they have been on that ship, they will not necessarily know.
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Old May 20th, 2014, 04:08 PM
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Buggs....

In all complete honesty and candor, I think these two paragraphs just summed up my entire cruise life and career as a writer on cruise topics. SO many times I have tried to explain to people...

(1) that there are very big differences between cruise lines and you had best know what you want from a ship before you choose one, and

(2) cruises in general are not the "party barges" people seem to think they are - in fact they are more cordial and quiet than far more people expect, which is not a good or bad thing, it is just a better description. I fully understand you saying you found those ships to be boring, I have also been bored on some cruise ships.

(3) there is almost no way for a person who has never cruised to know what to expect on a cruise until they take one.

Quote:
Back then, I really knew little about cruising. My research consisted of not much more than turning the pages of some glossy brochure. I did not understand the differences between cruise lines, or even know that there WERE differences! Budget was a big consideration at the time as well. The agent probably did the best she could, based on the information she had, but she did not do much in the way of educating us on cruising. When she said, I think you would probably like X, it's a little more "upscale" than some of the lines, I probably thought, "well, that has to be a good thing"! We found out quickly that upscale sometimes means "pretentious" to us. We were not comfortable in forced formality.

Now, I have a lot more hindsight, based on several cruises with various cruiselines, and I now know what works for us and what doesn't. I do lots of research, and firmly believe that if you don't know what to expect on the ship you are booked on, you should have NO expectations at all. You can read a good and a bad review from the same sailing date and can just tell that those folks who were disappointed had NO idea what to expect on their particular ship. It was not what they wanted or expected and they were therefore very unhappy and blamed the cruiseline, when in fact they were maybe just on the wrong ship.
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Old May 20th, 2014, 07:38 PM
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My wife and I like to go to the dining room for breakfast and lunch instead of the buffet. On one cruise, we went to lunch and were seated with 4 other people including two ladies in their 60's. We all introduced ourselves and I asked the lady next to me what she did and she informed me she was a travel agent. I asked her how long she had been doing the job and she said she had been an agent for 20 years. I remarked that she must have been on a lot of cruises during that time and seen alot of changes since the early 90's. Imagine my surprise when she announced this was her first cruise! I asked 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 was very good at lying to people! I asked her who she worked for and she said AAA.

Funny thing was a few months after that, AAA was opening a new store in our neighborhood and being members, we were invited to their grand opening. Of course we had to go check out the competition. They had snacks and were giving away alot of door prizes, so we found an empty cubicle to sit down during the festivities. While there, a senior couple came in and was ushered to the agent at the cubicle right next to us. I could see and hear everything as I was only about 3 feet away. The man started by saying he was retiring and wanted to take his family on a cruise. They had never been on a cruise before, wanted to go to the Mexican Riviera, they were all adults ranging in age from the mid-30's to mid-60's, and they wanted an upscale cruise with good food and did not want a 'party crowd'.

I listen to everything he said and I'm thinking to myself this is going to take a while because at the time Carnival, NCL, RCCL, Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity all had ships in the LA/San Diego areas doing Mexican Riviera cruises. Personally, I would have spent more time getting to know him, what he was looking for, and then talking about the various cruise lines and itineraries.

Needless to say, I was very surprised when the agent only 'recommended' one cruise line; Carnival!

The gentleman said he heard Carnival was more for younger people and reiterated they wanted very nice and not a party crowd. The agent told him Carnival would be perfect for them. Never once in the entire conversation did she even mention any of the other cruise lines.

The guy asked a question (can't remember what it was, but it was something any cruise agent should know) and she didn't know the answer. So she picked up the phone and called Carnival. She asked the rep the question, got the answer, and then asked her to hold. She put the phone on the desk and answered the guy's question. A couple of minutes later he asked another question she didn't know, so she picked up the phone, asked the question, got the answer, and then put the phone back on the desk. This went on for 45 minutes!!

The agent recommend they purchase a suite so the family could get together in the stateroom, which is something I would never do. She recommended they purchase the airfare through the cruise line, which is something I would never do. She recommended they purchase the travel insurance through the cruise line, which is something I would never do. And so on....

Finally, the festivities were over and employees kept coming up and asking if they could help us. We kept reading a brochure and saying we were still considering some options. In the meantime, I wanted to grab this couple and run them out the door as far and fast as I could get them away from this VERY incompetent agent. My professionalism forbid me from saying or doing anything, so regrettably we left. We actually sat in our car outside the store for about another 1/2 hour just to see if we could talk to them as we really felt sorry for what they were going through. No one, especially someone who has never been on a cruise, should be subjected to total incompetence like that.

When I got home, I did some research to see if I could figure out why this agent was pushing Carnival and found where they were offering agents a $50 bonus commission for booking 7-night Mexican Riviera cruises!

Unfortunately, as I said, with every profession there are those who are more interested in the almighty dollar than they are about providing good service.

Now, with that said, there's not an agent out there that can know every little thing about everything to do with cruising, I don't care how hard they try. They can't cruise on every cruise line and on every ship. Don't know anyone who can say that. So there's no one that is going to be able to give you all the little tricks, hints, and nuances of everything they all have to offer. But those aren't the reasons why people book a cruise. Once a cruise has been decided upon, then that's the time to do all the research to find out about all the little peculiarities that people have posted on the internet.

But an agent is still the best way to book a cruise. You always want a professional working for you, especially if anything goes wrong. You don't want to have to fight the fight all by yourself against a large corporation.

I have a very good friend who use to be a regional manager for one of the major cruise lines. I've known her for 12 years and she finally decided to quit her job and become an agent with our company. She told me that knowing everything she knows about the cruise industry, she would never book a cruise for herself without using an agent, which is why she became one. She got tired of showing agents how to be better at their job and do it herself. Said it was the best move she ever made and she loves it.

Pete
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Old May 21st, 2014, 01:17 PM
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Great story, Pete! Unfortunately that couple probably took that Carnival cruise, hated it, and never cruised again! But you never know, maybe they ended up loving it! Sometimes, as in my case, you find out that what you think you want in a cruise is not really the best fit for you. It is so hard to know when you have no cruising experience. It seems that recommending the right cruiseline would be the hardest part of being an agent.
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Old May 21st, 2014, 03:01 PM
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You used that word 'recommending'. Remember what I said about 'recommending'. If an agent is recommending things, they are, in affect, pushing you in a direction that may or may not be something you want. It's not their choice to make for you, it's your choice.

I never recommend any cruise - that's not my job. I look at my job as providing information so you can choose the right cruise for you based on your requirements, lifestyle, and budget. To me, that's not a hard part of my job, but it can be time consuming, which is why alot of agents just recommend things so they can book you, get rid of you, and get onto the next client. An agent should never be in a hurry - if they are, find another agent. As I've said before, I've spent 2 hours on the phone or meeting with a client who has never cruised before because they have so many questions and need alot of information.

Good agents realize that it takes alot of hand-holding with first time cruisers and they're spending a great deal of money for a vacation. So it's important for them to feel comfortable with their choices and not feel hurried or pressured into a decision.

Two things I love to hear from clients when they return from a cruise is that; 1) it was the perfect cruise for them, and 2) there were no surprises.

That tells me that we worked together to find them exactly what they wanted and covered all the details so they knew what to expect.

The last thing in the world a good agent wants is to have a client return from a cruise disappointed and announcing they never want to do another cruise.

Pete
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Old May 21st, 2014, 03:13 PM
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Pete, a few questions regarding your visit to the local AAA. I have used them in the past; first thing I ask at the front desk; I want an agent who's been on cruises. Why do you say you would not recommend a suite for a family. We have done that. We booked owners suite on Freedom of the Seas; plus three inside cabins across hall. All the kids/grandkids used out suite as a staging area; they would leave sticky notes on our door to let us know their whereabouts. So it worked for us.
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Old May 21st, 2014, 05:32 PM
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I actually have a very good friend who works at AAA and she told me the majority of their agents have never been on a cruise. And based on my personal experience, it's not just in her office. Plus, she also confirmed they have a huge turnover rate. People come to work there thinking it's a glamorous job with great benefits and the chance to travel for very reduced rates. Doesn't take long at all to find out it's alot of work, long hours, not glamorous at all, not alot of pay, and very little chance to travel at reduced rates if, in fact, they can even get time off from work.

(Believe it or not, the average lifespan for a new agent working in these type of agencies or call centers is less than 6 months.) Many people think they're immediately going to make alot of money and are disallusioned when they find out they don't get paid their commissions until after a client takes their trip. In other words, as an example, today I just booked someone on a 52-day cruise on the Quantum of the Seas for May 2015. So I'm doing all the work now, but I won't get paid for this until a year from now. And if the client ends up cancelling, I get nothing. Makes it extremely difficult for someone just starting out in the industry.

As for recommending a suite (there goes that word, again), if in the course of talking about the various staterooms, their prices, and what they have to offer, the client showed an interest in a suite, then I would absolutely talk about the benefits and amenities of booking one. But again, I'm not going to recommend they get one, especially if they did not show any interest in getting one. To me, that's just being pushy and trying to up-sell. And that's exactly what this agent was doing - trying to get them to buy something they really didn't want.

As I've said before, if an agent is recommending things, it's usually not in the best interest of the client. Often times they are simply trying to steer the client into buying something they may not want or can't afford, or it's because the agent is going to get a bigger commission.

Keep in mind that the more cruises an agent sells with a particular cruise line, then the bigger the commissions are. So if they sell alot of Carnival and not very many of Royal Caribbean, then it's in their best interest for you to purchase a Carnival cruise and they're more apt to steer you towards Carnival and away from RCCL.

Pete
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Old May 21st, 2014, 07:48 PM
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The same thing is true for the order takers who answer the phones for the cruise lines. Most of them have never cruised...many years ago I asked the one trying to help me if he had cruised....nope. These people know of no "secrets"

I have also experienced working with 2 different agents over time, who after several years seem to have lost the zest for the business. Giving them both guarenteed bookings with friends,and having both ta's either, not get back to them in a timely manner, or not at all...thus losing my business as well as my friends.

How often in this economy can you get a free service, have someone watch your back,and have the ability to help you from beginning,to end, and in case of any issues be there for you....a no brainer.
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Trip View Post
I have also experienced working with 2 different agents over time, who after several years seem to have lost the zest for the business. Giving them both guarenteed bookings with friends,and having both ta's either, not get back to them in a timely manner, or not at all...thus losing my business as well as my friends.

How often in this economy can you get a free service, have someone watch your back,and have the ability to help you from beginning,to end, and in case of any issues be there for you....a no brainer.
Trip,
I understand what you are saying. I think a number of "good" Travel Agents succumb to the "curse of riches". In that, they are good and receive a number of recommendations and end up with more clients then they can handle. At first they take care of their long time clients but new clients do not get the service that the long time clients receive and, even worse, the agents become so overloaded that all of the clients are neglected. This destroys the agents business and also can be embarrassing to the clients who recommend their friends only to be told the agent was worthless.

Success can destroy a business. I learned that, a long time ago, in business school, and I've seen it happen to a number of businesses. You must control, and plan, your growth and adjust to success.

Take care,
Mike
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 10:58 AM
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How often in this economy can you get a free service, have someone watch your back,and have the ability to help you from beginning,to end, and in case of any issues be there for you....a no brainer.
Yes, and maybe their in lies the problem. Some people think nothing of asking their cabin to be changed, two, three or four times. Take this person off the res, add this one. Call for price drops, etc. And when and if the agent finally gets a commission, and divides it out by the hours spent, they may find they could have made more money at Mc Donald's. I often wonder if TAs will someday be an extinct species, with more and more people booking on their own.

Is there any discussion about TAs charging fees? Maybe a flat fee per booking? I thought I heard recently that Canadian TAs are starting to do this. A lot of people think there are already fees for using an agent to book.
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 01:01 PM
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Many agents do charge fees. I have several friends that do. Most of them will apply the fees to the booking, so the client does not actually pay a fee if they make the reservation through the agent. The fees aren't usually charged as a way to make money, they are to deter those who only want to use the agent for research and then go book the cruise online or with someone else who is less knowledgeable on the subject. Unfortunately, it happens and it's frustrating. Luckily, it doesn't happen all that often because the overwhelming majority of people who contact an agent know the value and benefit of using an agent, so they don't just use them and lose them.

We chose not to charge fees and, at least for the foreseeable future, we won't change our policy. Yes, we get the 'looky loos' who only want information and then book elsewhere, but they are so far and few between that we don't consider it a problem for us.

Agents who do airfare by itself (not combined with a cruise, tour, or resort) have been charging fees for quite a while since airlines have not been paying any commissions for many years. You'll see fees from $25 to $75 per ticket because the agent has to make money somehow for doing the work.

And actually, at least according to the research people, the number of people booking through agents over the many years has actually gone up a bit. The numbers moved up and down, but have risen a little lately because for the most part, people are very busy and just don't have the time to do all the research on their own. Plus, first time cruisers don't know where to start and are quickly overwhelmed by all the information. And there really is no comparison between contacting an agent and contacting the cruise line directly, because the agent should know about all the cruise lines, whereas the client would have to contact each cruise line they're considering, which can be very confusing and time consuming. It's like buying a new compact SUV - there are many out there and unless you're loyal to a certain brand, there's no way to compare all of them without going to test drive each one, especially if you have no idea which one will be best for you.

Travel can be confusing and scary for those who haven't done it, do it on an infrequent basis, or are overwhelmed by all the choices. They need someone to help them sift through all the information and options so they can pick the perfect vacation for them. Online sites and direct booking with the cruise line just can't give them the help they need and answer all their questions.

Pete
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 03:33 PM
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Pete, this went right over my head. Can you clarify how it's possible to apply a fee, but the client does not pay it?

"Most of them will apply the fees to the booking, so the client does not actually pay a fee if they make the reservation through the agent".
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 04:29 PM
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Agents will charge the client a fee to do the research and provide options for the client to consider. If the client books the cruise through the agent, the agent applies the fee towards the booking so that in the end, the client does not pay the fee as an additional amount.

In other words, if the fee is $35 and the client decides to book a cruise, then the agent will only charge them $465 more in order to pay for the $500 deposit.

Make sense?

However, there are some agents who will charge a fee and they do not apply it towards the booking so that the client ends up paying for the fee in addition to the reservation.

Pete
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 06:03 PM
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Pete, thanks for your answer; I understand what you meant by not offering up suites if you get the feeling the client only wants a balcony.
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by cruise planner View Post
Agents will charge the client a fee to do the research and provide options for the client to consider. If the client books the cruise through the agent, the agent applies the fee towards the booking so that in the end, the client does not pay the fee as an additional amount.

In other words, if the fee is $35 and the client decides to book a cruise, then the agent will only charge them $465 more in order to pay for the $500 deposit.

Make sense?

However, there are some agents who will charge a fee and they do not apply it towards the booking so that the client ends up paying for the fee in addition to the reservation.

Pete
OK, I get what you are saying now. I don't know that I'd pay someone else to do the research for me, at least for cruises. I have too much fun doing it myself. If I was planning a European land tour, it would probably be well worth it!
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