Has anyone ever booked online- I found cheaper prices online then my TA was able to get. I gat very nervouse doing this! Thoughts, comments greatly appreciated! Thanks! Nancy
BTW- I thank all of you who have recently answered my other posts, you ALL are a wonderful group of people! Cannot say how happy I am that I found this site! Have the book Cruises for Dummies, that is how I discovered you all!
I have used on on-line travel agent, but I make sure they have an 800 phone number, so if I need to call, I can actually get in touch with the travel agent. If you talk to the t/a and feel comfortable and think he/she is knowledgeable and does return phone calls, e-mail etc. chances are they will be there for you when you have a problem. Another thing you can do is see if your regular travel agent will meet the price, sometimes I'd rather pay a little more and get the service, so give that some thought as well. Good luck.
I use an agent I met "on-line" and have very positive experiences from it. Her customer service is excellent and her prices are wonderful.
I had previously heard great things about this person before I booked from her.
There are a couple of things that I would recommend when using an online agent: see if anyone else has used this agency with or without problems, make sure they are part of CLIA, and make sure they run your transactions through the cruise line and not their individual company.
Can you explain to me why it is important for the agency to run your transactions through the cruise line and not their company?? You have me worried, I believe my internet agency (they do have an 800# and address in Florida) ran the pre-payment through their company.
I have read of several circumstances where the agency has run the credit card transaction through their travel agency. Everything looked normal but the travel agency never sent the money on to the cruiseline. People had paid or made payments to the travel agency and then the travel agency goes bankrupt. Thus, they are out of luck.
If this happens - you can contest this through your credit card company which is messy and takes awhile. I have heard from several people that they made a couple of payments throughout the booking process (let's say 3 payments). Well - most credit card companies allow only 30-60 days to content a charge. So if you book a cruise a year in advance and make payments throughout the year - you may not be able to contest the charge. Different credit card companies have different policies.
Ask the agency if they will do this - most will. I was naive when I first started travelling and used a local agency and WROTE CHECKS! How naive!!! I have travelled a lot and read a lot on this subject. I have seen too many people burned through the process.
If you are using a small agency or unsure of the agency you are using - this is one way of insuring that the money is going directly to the cruiseline and that your reservation is intact. The cruiseline then pays the agency their commission.
If there are any TA's out there - feel free to comment on this!!!!! The 2 online agencies I have used - do this as part of their normal practice.
Alice - chances are, everything will go fine with your booking. But there are enough travel agencies (online and down the street from you) that are not able to survive with the industry trends. This just offers a "better solution".
Remember - some insurance plans cover if the cruiseline goes bankrupt but none cover if the travel agency goes bankrupt (or at least the ones I have seen).
See <a href=http://www.cruise-forums.com/read.php?f=20&i=6643&t=6614> this post </a> for the answer to your question. Unfortunately, stories of the type that Theresa describes are not exactly uncommon.
I am sure this is a silly question, but i have received an e-mail receipt from my travel agents company and a "booking number" which has allowed me to log onto the Princess web site and record personal preferences and information, so i should be alright, right???
Thanks again for the information and great advice.
The email receipt with the booking number (that works) on Princess' site is a good sign.
If I were you - in the future - just ask that your future payments go through the cruiseline.
In the majority of the cases - you will be ok. There have just been too many stories of bookings that go bad that I now insist. LIke I said - it has never been a problem asking and my current online ta has that as her policy. About two days after I authorize a payment - I can see it "online" when viewing my visa bill.
As a local agent, I can tell you that ALL my transactions go thru the cruiselines from deposit to final payment. I NEVER touch money and receive confirmations from the cruise lines and then pass that on to my clients.
Donna, as a small independent local agency that books both local and on the web, I would like to clarify why not all agencies place their 800 number on their website. Because there are so many shoppers online, my phone bill would be thousands of dollars from these people. When someone books a cruise with me they are provided with my 800 number, and emergency phone numbers to reach me 24 hours a day. PLEASE do not misinterpret what I am saying, as this is just a clarification that I wanted to mention as I have seen you post this on several boards, and want you to hear from the little guy and not freak out and think that an agent is not reputable because they do not have an 800 number. I spend hours with my clients preparing their vacation as if it were my own. Right now, with this horrific attack on America, I am contacting my clients to let them know they can reach me just to talk about their upcoming cruises, and that I understand if they want to cancel. Personally, I cannot imagine being on a cruise right now or traveling to one. I am CLIA affiliated and this by no means is meant as solicitation
I am so overcome with sadness with this attack on our country. I was supposed to be on The Summit for the 2 day inaugural, and believe ir or not, I am happy that it has been cancelled. Perhaps that makes me a poor agent, but I cannot concentrate as you can tell from this rambling message. I have emailed my clients that are sailing this week to let them know I will place any phone calls to loved ones and for those that will not have email access I have placed calls to the ships so they know I can be a middle person from them to their families in this trying time.
Again, please do not take this message in a negative way.
I certainly understand where you are coming from as an agent and it does make perfect sense. As a customer, we need that contact from time to time, so all I meant with having access to an 800 number, in order to keep track of any changes or errors in a booking. For me personally, I think its great we can shop on-line, but I don't thing the average consumer will just call all the 800 number in order to get prices, I'm sure some will???
I've been very fortunate to have booked with travel agents that are not local, and they have been able to corrspond through e-mail with no problem, thank goodness for the internet. Thats all I meant by being able to pick up a phone and talk to your agent if the need is there. You certainly sound like an agent I would do business with, keep up the good work :-)
When I started cruising there was no Internet but there was Cruise Travel Magazine, and I used to call every 800 number in there in order to get a decent price. Before that, there were only 2 discount cruise agencies in the country and I remember calling a radio station in Boston to ask them if they were reputable since they were the ONLY places not charging brochure rates.
I prefer email, as I worked for an International Computer/Market Research Company for many years. However, there are many people in my area that are still afraid to use an "Internet Only" agency and for them, they have the choice of face to face with online rates or sitting back and just doing it all online. I guess I'm a strong believer in "What goes around, comes around" and I feel guilty about calling and wasting all those agents time and money!
By no means at all, did I interpret your postings in a negative way. It's just that each time I read it, I put myself in the posters position of seeing my website, not seeing an 800 number, and "hearing" your words
Just to clarify, all I mentioned is that the travel agent has an 800 number, doesn't have to have it on the web-site, for the reasons you stated. I would think once you are ready to book, its a good idea to talk to the consumer, but thats just me, as much as I rely on the internet, I still like to have that personal touch, don't U?
Heavens Yes! Personal contact, is essential as far as I'm concerned, no matter what type of service is involved. I cant imagine handing a booking over to an agent not knowing what they sound like or checking them out thoroughly. I also want to speak with my client on the phone so I can know their likes and dislikes. I think we both understand what the other is saying
This is a good method to find the lowest price you can get. Then take that price back to your "friendly" TA to match. He or she should be happy to match that price. This way, you get the lowest online price and keep your local TA happy!
So you make people work for you and spend time and money so you can turn around and book with someone else....Don't you think this is not right. If someone takes the time and money to get what you want at a really good price I would think you would book with them just out of good ethics. Just to keep Local Agents happy??? Oh well maybe Im missing something here.
Perhaps Tom is speaking of all those "Beat This Price" Internet sites. Only he can answer that, but I do believe that both local and Internet agents can work together. I think ALL agents, whether they are Internet Only or Local Agents, get "Used" not out of malice, but the fact that consumers dont realize the expense that agents have. I'm sure the majority of the people dont realize that we all have to pay for brochures, tickets, documents etc. I know you love cruising as much as I do and that is why we are in the business. Our clients come to us and stay with us if we provide excellent customer service AND a great price. Sure, there will always be those clients who will want to save ten dollars and dont care about that "personal touch" and waste your time, but people do that in Walmart vs the little store downtown and Kmart too. I believe that if you are a good agent that cares about your client and REALLY love this business, it can be conducted in a professional manner, and at the same time have a wonderful relationship with your clients - online or local. It's all in everyone's "attitude"