Ok, I have some things to get off my chest. I haven't posted before, but I have been reading people's postings here for quite some time.
First of all, regarding price drops, your travel agent as several other clients. No matter how much revenue you bring your travel agent, they do not sit and watch the price of your cruise to see if it goes down. They are not going to call you to let you know it has gone down, becuase, as previously mentioned, your travel agent is busy-working! Not, as assumed by the general public, because they don't want their commission to go down!! (trust me, a repeat client is more valuable!!) If you notice a fare change, go ahead and give them a call.
Second, cruise lines have a policy that they do NOT discuss reservations directly with a client if the reservation was booked with a TA. It's not becuase they are rude, or lazy, or trying to smoke you. It's part of the business agreement between TA's and the cruise lines. It's to protect YOU from someone calling the cruise line and changing, or cancelling your reservation, or God knows what else. No one is trying to make your life more difficult. And if you really want a confirmation of something directly from the cruise line, your TA, if a reputable one, should be more than willing to produce a confirmation fax from the cruise line.
People, please realize that TA's aren't the one's to blaim when your cabin is dirty, your meal was cold, or you got seated with Mr. Redneck from Middle of Nowhere who thinks a baseball cap and "I like fishing" t-shirt are acceptable dinner atire. It's not your TA's fault that you didn't purchase insurance, or that you wanted a balcony but the cruise line is sold out.
TA's are great resources, they work hard to help you get the most for your money. Treat them as you would like to be treated, and I promise, you will see the benifits!!
I agree with you! Our TA is wonderful, but I don't expect her to be checking the price on our cruise every day. I check on my own and email her if I see a lower price (we've always gotten the lower price ).
I know a lot of people would rather do their own booking, but we've found our TA to be invaluable. We often get extra OBC from her agency, she answers "silly" questions and "major" questions with no problem, and we certainly don't blame her if something goes wrong on the ship!
Some people don't realize that they aren't paying a TA for their services. The cruise lines pay the commission! IMO, there's absolutely no reason NOT to use a Cruise Specialist TA !
As far as the cruise line not talking to you if you have a TA, well, that's what a TA is for! I love having someone to run "interference" for me!
"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour."
Carnival Inspiration 2002 Carnival Elation 2004
Grand Princess 2004 NCL Sun 2005
Sun Princess 2006 NCL Dream 2007
Caribbean Princess 2007 NCL Dawn 2008
Island Princess 2008 Island Princess 2009
Golden Princess 2009 Carnival Conquest 2010
Grand Princess 2010 Island Princess 2011
Grand Princess 2011 Carnival Magic 2012
Carnival Dream 2012 Island Princess 2013
Couldn't agree more Heather, I'm also a travel agent and experience the same situations, however, I do more Corporate Travel. We did have a few things blamed on us back in my leisure days though. For example, a woman wanted to go to Hawaii in October and was upset with us because we never advised her it was the rainy season. She also blamed us because the hotel had an open lobby with no doors and we should have recommended another hotel. Lastly, she stepped on a bug, which turned out to be poisonous and wanted us to pay the medical bill because we did not advise her of the poisonous insects that she may encounter! I think traveling is a responsibility of those planning to go, not just everyone else. If you're going to a new destination, research it to get the best out of your trip.
BTW, thanks Fern, for posting that fact that we as travel agents are not taking your money, we're just simply transfering it along to the cruise line which will pay us commission after you take the trip. The only source of profit that travel agents receive anymore, are limited commissions from international flights, service fees, and some hotels, depending on the rate. I will book my corporate travelers the lowest rate possible regardless if we are getting commission or not.
I am reading this thread and laughing. I have been blamed for so much in my ten years! When people book these days I have typed up a sheet that tells people what they should be doing and what they are responsible for. For instance: Iput arrive at the airport two hours before departure, the airline may change your flight schedule and is beyond our control, Place your baggage tags on your bag etc.....
The BEST complaint and blame I had as of yet was a single women who went the Golden Princess to Canada out of NYC a few years back. Keep in mind I am 20 minutes from NYC. So no air was involved. It was really simple. Keep in mind this was her first cruise but she was a veteran travller. Nevertheless she goes on the cruise and never tags her luggage! So the entire first night the ship goes hunting for her luggage. They could not find it because it was not tagged. They must have put it aside somewhere on the ship. Early the next morning it was found. After her she came back and yelled at me. She let me have it infront of a client and my co-workers. I said to her that she recieved baggage tags with the tickets and I took out another client who was going on the same cruise she did just a week or two later. When I showed her the baggage tag she looks at them and says!!! THIS IS THE BEST PART Oh I thought those were stickers I put them in my scrapbook. I thought I was going to burst out laughing. She says this with the straightest face! The client I had at my desk was covering her mouth from laughing. The women proceed to yell at me and she said that I should have told her this! I did! When she picked her tickets up but she did not listen!
You gotta love it you cant make this stuff up. Anytime you deal with the public no matter what job you get s*** upon. I am actually leaving the travel agent world and I am going into teaching!!! I am really in for it!
With all kidding aside finding a good agent is hard. I myself did not take any sort of test to become a TA and many people may view that as a poor agent. I did however learn on the job, I attended a program to learn a reservation system called Sabre, plus I went to college and received a degree in management and psychology. Unfortunately the industry does not have a standardized test which I would be in favor for to weed out the "get rich" quick people to whom you reference. And yes those people do exist. However, I am not sure how rich they are getting these days. I know we beat this piont till its dull but with all seriousness travel agents get paid very crummy. Yes we get SOME travel incentives but you have to travel on a whim usually. I get paid a salary and sadly I can't support myself with it. I know its wrong to advertise but full time I make a little over 20K, no health benefits. This is after being in the business nine years and with a 4 year BA degree. Keep in mind I live in suburban NYC and its not cheap to live here so my salary can't support me. I do however make 50% commission on personal clients (these are family, friends and people I meet OUTSIDE the office and I have to work on these clients on my own time). I am 25 still living with the parents and putting myself through grad school (as I said before I will become a teacher). I am not saying all of this so people feel sorry for me. PLEASE DONT, I have a nice life. I am trying to put it into perspective of how some agents get paid. So to answer your question the quick buck cowboys do exist BUT again I am not sure how richthey are getting unless their clients book all first class travel which could be the case.
In regards to concerns with online TA's as consumer look and ask. Ask the agent questions--are they a member of organizations such as CLIA (my agency is not and we are legit), ASTA? Are they certified and bonded? Ask the agent how long they have been at the job. See if they have travelled at all personally.
And as a travel agent I am not happy with all the diverse service that my industry provides. I think many of these internet only agencies give some of us a bad name. I know there are some good internet agencies but again many of them are order takers and not a proffessional and thats the differance. When people come to me with an "order" I will still qualify them to see if they really will fit in with what they want. I wont order them not to go but I beleive that I did a part in assisting them to find the best possible vacation.
In Canada they do have tests to give the good agents certification.
Agents/counsellors that have C.I.T.C. diploma have pasted the tests or gotten training in schools etc... http://www.citc.ca/index.asp
I agree with you about the internet agencies ...when something goes wrong there is no one to help the client.
People don't understand that TA's can usually get the same price as the internet places but they don't want to pay the TA commission even though it does not come from their pocket.
Now the TA's here can charge a fee for consultation but before we could not ...we had to rely on commissions.
People will come in ask all the qustions about the travel arrangements and book online so now agents have to charge for their time...it is a good thing in my book.
I can remember spending hours on the phone finding the best prices for my client then they go book elsewhere.
I am retired from the travel business but iI did go to a travel course & get my CITC designation but many TA's do not ...it does not make them a bad TA but having the designation you get hired with a better salary than those that don't.
If you can take course do it. it will give you more credibilty and more money in your job.
ASTA has a good site with educational programs.
You can also take their test to get your CTC designation ..it would be worthwhile for you do do it if do not have it yet. http://www.thetravelinstitute.com/forms/tapform.cfm
Thank you kitty2! I thought of doing the CTC but now with grad school and work- time is obsolete! In fact school starts this week! My office actually does not charge a consultation fee though we talk about it beacuse as you said we get people who want info and leave. I know its part of the job but sometimes I have spent days doing the work to no avail.
That is very good Canada has standardized tests for TA's. I like a lot of things Canada does (but thats another story I would not post here!!!) I think it does assist in weeding out those who may not be good at doing this type of work.
I am curious, about how much do agencies charge for a consultation?