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TA Correspondance Etiquette?


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#1 vivrant_thing

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    Posted 27 May 2009 - 06:43 PM

    just a preface... this is my first time dealing with a travel agent, so please feel free to tell me proper ways of doing business with them!

    How long does it take for rates? After having to change the date on her for the 3rd time, I told her that we finally settled on the week of feb. 12-18th '10 (fri-thurs). This was last Monday, and back then, on orbitz.ca the rates were about 1057 pp flight +Hotel , taxes included. now they are going up to 1121... i know its not SO much but i would really love to start booking our flights already before they go up even more! My parents have also been asking me every day about whether its okay to book yet (On their own) and I've been tellin them to wait since i haven't heard back from my TA yet... but finally iwas like go ahead if u really want to....
    so i'm jus wondering.. how does the process work? i hope she's not already upset that i changed the date so many times already... although, both dates i asked her for weren't going to be ready yet til july & august, plus i'm sure i'm not the first dw bride to change her mind on the date or whatever...

    just wondering what ur thoughts & experiences were with your travel agent... how long it took, how big of a discount you actually got....
    oh i should add that FH's side (parents, brother + wife + daughter) can get free flights bc his dad & brother work for an airline so they will only be needed hotel rooms)
    thanks!

    #2 La Romana Stacey

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      Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:48 PM

      Hi!

      I would NOT advise your guests booking before you get the group rates back. Firstly, the group rates have nothing to do with the individual rates you see online. Group rates are calculated by the rates that each tour operator has contracted with a resort for that particular season. Yes there is chance you could get it slightly cheaper if you book individually online but it's also very risky.

      When you book a group you are guaranteeing the space for your group. You are also, locking in the rates for each member of you group. So if you book today and your parents book in a month from now they will pay the same rates as long as the space is still available.

      What happens if your parents book now and there are only a few spaces left? Then they are stuck with the booking. What if the rates come back and your particular dates can’t be confirmed. My advice is for you to wait and book your core group together e.g. immediate family, friends, and people who you definitely want there all at once.

      No matter how much the rates fluctuate online the group rates should remain constant, unless there is an early booking bonus that has expired.

      I definitely think you should wait for your TA. Having said that it should only take 2-3 business days to get rates back. If it's been longer than this you should write your TA an email asking her if she's heard anything.

      This is just my two cents :) Hope it helps!

      #3 La Romana Stacey

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        Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:59 PM

        Sorry I forgot a few things. Don't worry so much about what your TA thinks. I'm sure he/she has dealt with a lot worse:) Changing dates is normal part of the booking process, especially for a destination wedding. Even if you do come off as super demanding who cares, that the TA's job. As long are you are respectful there is nothing wrong with asking for what you want. Group bookings are huge business for TA's, they want these bookings and should do everything they can to get yours. If he/she doesn't I'd look for someone else to help you.

        In regards to your guests who only need the hotel, your TA should be able to get rates for that as well. Just ask for them. It's just easier to keep everyone booking with the same person if it's possible.

        Okay I'm done now

        Good luck and congratulations!

        #4 TammyWright

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        Posted 27 May 2009 - 11:02 PM

        i have to agree with TA maureen as well. it does not take just a few days to get group rates as you have to see if the space is available, then get the contract, go over the contract, negotiate terms, etc...this is not done isntantaneously.

        also, to be honest, if i had a client that changed their dates a bunch of times, it would really make me think twice about where to focus my time and energy....and i am NOT saying that vivrant_thing, you did not have good reason to change your date but i like to focus my energy on clients that are committed to their location as well as date. they are the clients that get my priority.

        we get alot of people that contact us just to "kick tires"...i have even had people contact me before they got engaged for a wedding 3 years out..

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        #5 JenniferSS

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          Posted 28 May 2009 - 12:13 AM

          Just to add my two cents-

          I too would be hesitant to prioritize someone who is on their third request for pricing/dates.There are only so many hours in a day and I need to be able to assist my clients who need me immediately and are settled on what they really want. In a typical day I write out approximately 50 emails and in a week I usually will receive about 25-35 requests for destination weddings and/ or honeymoons. Many of those are people who recognize the value & knowledge that a TA has! They want to pick my brain for the knowledge I've accumulated with hard work & training over the years but they plan on booking elsewhere, for a literally a couple of dollars less. We've all had this happen and most often the client won't give the TA a chance to price match or explain why theirs may be a little higher.

          Not saying that is what the original poster is doing but it is what we deal with on a daily basis. Her TA at this point may be a little gun shy to expend any more time & energy for this DW.

          Quite honestly if I have a super demanding bride who doesn't respect me or my staff then I will fire them. I've done it. Yes, I am in a service industry and I will go the extra mile but I will not be abused nor let a super demanding bride take me away from assisting my other clients. It's not fair that a bride who is respectful & patient would not get the time, attention and service level that she deserves because one bride is super demanding. That is usually the straw that breaks this camels back!

          Most DW group bookings are also not as lucrative as all of you may think- the amount of time spent on a 3 or 4 night group, from starting to work with a bride, assisting their guests and answering questions, problem solving and addressing any issues that may arise ( like the lovely swine flu !) till they return home - can have us actually making under the per hour minimum wage !

          I love what I do and it's great to be an integral part of such a wonderful event but please keep in mind that you are dealing with a real live person! Treat your TA as you would like someone to treat you at your job.


          Be patient, understand that we do have to triage our clients into what we have/can do on any given day- we may have a group that is having issues with flights that needs our undivided attention, we may be putting in final payments on a large group where we had to track many of them down to get said payment :) - we may have had other quotes that were requested prior to yours ect ect!

          I would contact her again, let her know that this is really the final change and that you are ready to go (only if it is). That you apprecaite her work and that you will use her to book (only if you truly will) .

          #6 Dmitri_Markine

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            Posted 28 May 2009 - 11:07 AM

            Those guests that work for the airline should double check availability and the flight status for that wedding location. Some airlines don't fly to certain locations or limit them to specific dates.

            #7 vivrant_thing

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              Posted 28 May 2009 - 02:00 PM

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Tammy Host
              i have to agree with TA maureen as well. it does not take just a few days to get group rates as you have to see if the space is available, then get the contract, go over the contract, negotiate terms, etc...this is not done isntantaneously.

              also, to be honest, if i had a client that changed their dates a bunch of times, it would really make me think twice about where to focus my time and energy....and i am NOT saying that vivrant_thing, you did not have good reason to change your date but i like to focus my energy on clients that are committed to their location as well as date. they are the clients that get my priority.

              I get what you mean... I'm worried that she may think I'm about to change the date yet again (dont worry, we won't.. we've already booked the ceremony venue).

              we get alot of people that contact us just to "kick tires"...i have even had people contact me before they got engaged for a wedding 3 years out..
              Quote:
              Originally Posted by TA Jennifer
              Just to add my two cents-

              I too would be hesitant to prioritize someone who is on their third request for pricing/dates.There are only so many hours in a day and I need to be able to assist my clients who need me immediately and are settled on what they really want. In a typical day I write out approximately 50 emails and in a week I usually will receive about 25-35 requests for destination weddings and/ or honeymoons. omg.. thats a LOT Many of those are people who recognize the value & knowledge that a TA has! They want to pick my brain for the knowledge I've accumulated with hard work & training over the years but they plan on booking elsewhere, for a literally a couple of dollars less. We've all had this happen and most often the client won't give the TA a chance to price match or explain why theirs may be a little higher.

              Not saying that is what the original poster is doing but it is what we deal with on a daily basis. Her TA at this point may be a little gun shy to expend any more time & energy for this DW.

              Quite honestly if I have a super demanding bride who doesn't respect me or my staff then I will fire them. I've done it. lol don't worry!!! she is one of my girlfriend's mom so i have been completely respectful to her... although i know shes probably pretty annoyed with me & the date changes by now :S Yes, I am in a service industry and I will go the extra mile but I will not be abused nor let a super demanding bride take me away from assisting my other clients. It's not fair that a bride who is respectful & patient would not get the time, attention and service level that she deserves because one bride is super demanding. That is usually the straw that breaks this camels back!

              Most DW group bookings are also not as lucrative as all of you may think- the amount of time spent on a 3 or 4 night group, from starting to work with a bride, assisting their guests and answering questions, problem solving and addressing any issues that may arise ( like the lovely swine flu !) till they return home - can have us actually making under the per hour minimum wage !

              I love what I do and it's great to be an integral part of such a wonderful event but please keep in mind that you are dealing with a real live person! Treat your TA as you would like someone to treat you at your job.


              Be patient, understand that we do have to triage our clients into what we have/can do on any given day- we may have a group that is having issues with flights that needs our undivided attention, we may be putting in final payments on a large group where we had to track many of them down to get said payment :) - we may have had other quotes that were requested prior to yours ect ect! good point... i think many ppl especially brides get so caught up in it being "my day" that we sometimes forget to consider other ppl & things like this

              I would contact her again, let her know that this is really the final change and that you are ready to go (only if it is). That you apprecaite her work and that you will use her to book (only if you truly will) .
              Quote:
              Originally Posted by TA Maureen
              Thanks Tammy and very well stated Jennifer!

              I just want to again state that we don't necessarily think the original poster, vivrant_thing, is trying to waste the TA's time or not serious about booking. We are just saying that this is how things look from our end and what we have to deal with. So hopefully it gives some insight.
              no no i did not feel that way at all.. i honestly have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, so i truly needed a heads up on that. even one of my BM told me that 'oh they should be used to the date changes' but obviously she ISN'T one and hasn't even used one so i'm glad i found this out too.
              thanks for all your help & thoughtful replies ladies! i'm at work reading/replying to this so i may be back later just to read it over again. thank u!


              #8 La Romana Stacey

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                Posted 28 May 2009 - 10:20 PM

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Tammy Host
                i have to agree with TA maureen as well. it does not take just a few days to get group rates as you have to see if the space is available, then get the contract, go over the contract, negotiate terms, etc...this is not done isntantaneously.

                also, to be honest, if i had a client that changed their dates a bunch of times, it would really make me think twice about where to focus my time and energy....and i am NOT saying that vivrant_thing, you did not have good reason to change your date but i like to focus my energy on clients that are committed to their location as well as date. they are the clients that get my priority.

                we get alot of people that contact us just to "kick tires"...i have even had people contact me before they got engaged for a wedding 3 years out..
                Sorry I didn't mean that TAs should put up with anything. I meant it's common to submit quotes for one date and then once they come back try a slightly different date to see if the rates are cheaper. I think you can tell if a client is serious about booking with you.

                Also I know here in Canada tour operators will generally return quotes within 48 hours in the slow season and 72 hours in peak season. This is excluding price matching of course. I am talking about the initial rates, not going over the contracts and term negotiation. All of these things are done days after the initial quotes have been received. I never implied that the complete booking of a group should take place in 2-3 days. Obviously this takes much longer.

                I'm so sorry if I made it seem like TAs should be punching bags! I never meant this. I just meant that a client shouldn't have to feel like they have to tip toe around their TA or worry about bothering them. I'm assuming vivrant_thing is serious about booking. Otherwise it wouldn't be right to keep changing things! The travel industry is completely customer service based. If the client feels they are not getting the service they desire they should find a TA who feels like a good fit.

                Clients don't always shop around to save an extra few dollars. They shop around for agents as well. It's important to trust your TA and feel like they are going to go the extra mile for you whether it's convenient for them or not. I did clearly say that as long as a client is respectful there is nothing wrong with asking for what you want. Respect is always important.

                #9 La Romana Stacey

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                  Posted 29 May 2009 - 11:26 AM

                  Quote:
                  Originally Posted by TA Maureen
                  Stacey, I just realized you and vivrant thing are from CA. Things do work differently there with the tour operators and such. Most passengers departing from Canada to the Caribbean seem to do week long packages on charter flights. Those can work a bit differently. Here we deal with a lot of scheduled published airfare for which we do not get paid commission from the airlines any longer (or some pay 5%) I'm sure you still are able to tack on a service fee to cover the work you have done. Due to the flight schedules from the US we have a lot of wedding guests that only travel for a weekend (3 nights). So those can turn out to be not as lucrative as some brides think like TA Jennifer mentioned. At this time, I am only dealing with US departures because when I tried to deal with Canadian departures things were a lot different and the expectations of those brides were very different because of the way things work there. I also seemed to get a whole different attitude towards me as a TA. I'm curious about the difference between American and Canadian brides in regards to the attitude they have towards you? What are the main differences?I didn't feel like I was the best match for them so I try to stick with US departures as much as possible. So I guess we can chalk it up to even though we are so close there are still a lot of differences in the travel industry between the 2 countries.Yes there definitely is. We work with completely different suppliers and policies.
                  Vivrant thing, since your TA is your friend's Mom, I'm sure she knows you're serious. Maybe she got busy or side tracked. Just send her an email saying you're really ready this time and things should be fine. Good Luck!
                  I only have experience dealing with tour operators in Canada and this is the way they operate up here. I didn't meant to offend you. I also saw that Vivrant thing was from Canada which is why I felt some of my insight could help her.

                  Take care!




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