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Why use a travel agent?


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#11 *JillD*

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    Posted 12 February 2008 - 09:03 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TA Jennifer
    Let's see if I can help-

    I've noticed and have spoke with other travel agents (to confirm that I wasn't losing it LOL!) about how the group rates seem to be creeping steadily higher and many times are higher than individual rates.Individual booking rates may be best ( depends on resort, time of year and how many traveling, plus if there are specials) and the amenities for the groups seem to be dwindling.

    Quite often the group rates may be higher, but the advantage is that as long as everyone pays their deposit within the timeframe- they are all paying the same rate. The bride & groom can also place deposits for stragglers- thus guaranteeing them the same rate as everyone else.

    Individual bookings may be less , but as travel pricing is fluid (sometimes changing right in the middle of a booking) some of the guests may pay less, some more. And of course as availability lessens the price goes up- I don't think you can hold your TA responsible for your guests procrastinating. The suppliers (whether they are through a TA or an online agency such as Expedia ect) base the price on how many rooms are in their inventory and are constantly adjusting to get the best ROI. The airlines also operate this way and typically group air is more expensive ( although again not always).

    Many of the suppliers will only allow 1 date deviation from a group- it all depends on what the hotel policies are, whether you have charter, bulk or published air and again time of year!

    What I do is look at all of the factors present and then make the recommendation to the bride & groom. I've had times where group rates are amazing with great charter air and then times where I've recommended individual rates- it really is a case by case basis. When I do individual rates- it may take me a bit to get back to the guests ( normally it may be a day or two at most) as I check with several suppliers to be sure I am offering the best value- ie flights, hotel & transfers. There are also suppliers who are typically less $$ than the ones I use. However I know that they have zero customer service and the rooms they contract with the resort are lousy- thus the cheap price.

    As an example- I may have a price of $XXX.XX with flights that have a do-able layover, two hours on the way out - 3 hours on the way back. This is along the east coast in the spring, I know that the guests more than likely will encounter delays during travel due to bad thunderstorms so I want to be sure they have enough time to make the connections. I also check to see that the flights on the way home leave at a reasonable hour as there is an hour and a half drive back to the airport from the resort- they need to check in at least 3 hours early as security can be really slow at this destination so an 8am flight home means that they are leaving the resort at the latest at 3am- yuk! My flights leave at 1pm.

    Guests goes to the internet and finds a price on orbitz that is $100.00 less. The kicker is the layover on the way out is 49 minutes- a perfectly legal connection, however the chances of making it are very slim and none if there is a delay! The way back the flights leave at 8am ( I know -you saw that coming!) Oh yeah- they didn't notice that transfers were included in my price but not in the online package.

    So the typical story goes- there was a delay due to weather, they missed the connection, next flight out is full and they will need to wait till the next day. The airline won't put them up at a hotel as it was a weather delay that caused the missed connection. After a 20 minute hold with online agency they are disconnected .....call back another 20 minutes to be told they need to deal directly with airline. Stay at airport hotel for $100.00 - food at hotel cost another $35.00 for dinner ( and if it was me another $50.00 in martini's , ) get on am flight the next day, arrive at airport to spend another $50.00 on transfers. Find out their ocean view room was given away and they are now downgraded to look over the dumpster ( I may be laying it on a bit thick but troll the internet you'll find dozens of stories like this!) but they can't check in until 4pm.

    That may not happen all of the time but it happens often enough! The point of my story is travel should not be all about price- a good travel agent brings experience, expertise and knowledge to the equation. Yes, sometimes we are a bit more than online- but it's not because we are trying to gouge our clients- it's because in the big picture we are recommending the best value! Most often though I find I bring a great value and a lower price!

    TA Jennifer

    That's a great example for people wondering about booking online or using a TA, I think you said it perfectly!

    #12 starchild

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      Posted 13 February 2008 - 03:38 AM

      Thanks Jennifer...that was explained well and makes total sense :o)

      #13 jmill130

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        Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:38 PM

        Just wanted to bring this thread back.

        I am having a hard time with TA prices with room block and prices on the large travel sites. It just seems like my guests can get a much better deal online. I know it might be a short lived deal and could change at any moment but my guests can book the trip for $500 less online then with the TA, i think thats a crazy amount difference. If my guests start searching and book online then i wont be able to keep my contract. Then we are the ones getting screwed, yet we were originally trying to save everyone money. I am not sure why its so much more through the TA. The online site offer discounts for flight and hotel but the TAs dont do this.. I dont understand why, it seems this is where the travel sites are able to save people money. I am not sure what to do here, drop room block down and hope i get at least 10 rooms booked or what.. $500 is too much of a difference!

        I dunno what to do, anyone else run into this??

        #14 Alyssa

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          Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:44 PM

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by jmill130
          Just wanted to bring this thread back.

          I am having a hard time with TA prices with room block and prices on the large travel sites. It just seems like my guests can get a much better deal online. I know it might be a short lived deal and could change at any moment but my guests can book the trip for $500 less online then with the TA, i think thats a crazy amount difference. If my guests start searching and book online then i wont be able to keep my contract. Then we are the ones getting screwed, yet we were originally trying to save everyone money. I am not sure why its so much more through the TA. The online site offer discounts for flight and hotel but the TAs dont do this.. I dont understand why, it seems this is where the travel sites are able to save people money. I am not sure what to do here, drop room block down and hope i get at least 10 rooms booked or what.. $500 is too much of a difference!

          I dunno what to do, anyone else run into this??
          that is unfortunate! I hope one of our Dreams TA's can chime in and shed some light on this subject for you

          #15 rodent

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            Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:50 PM

            Quote:
            Originally Posted by jmill130
            Just wanted to bring this thread back.

            I am having a hard time with TA prices with room block and prices on the large travel sites. It just seems like my guests can get a much better deal online. I know it might be a short lived deal and could change at any moment but my guests can book the trip for $500 less online then with the TA, i think thats a crazy amount difference. If my guests start searching and book online then i wont be able to keep my contract. Then we are the ones getting screwed, yet we were originally trying to save everyone money. I am not sure why its so much more through the TA. The online site offer discounts for flight and hotel but the TAs dont do this.. I dont understand why, it seems this is where the travel sites are able to save people money. I am not sure what to do here, drop room block down and hope i get at least 10 rooms booked or what.. $500 is too much of a difference!

            I dunno what to do, anyone else run into this??
            Maybe you need a different TA? My guests have shopped around & no one found better prices. But, my guests are booking package deals. I'm not doing a room block. i told everyone not to waste their time with expedia, etc, but a lot of people checked there anyway. I got several emails telling me I was right, the TA was the way to go.

            #16 Leia78

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              Posted 31 March 2008 - 01:41 PM

              I think having a TA for a DW, especially if you're expecting a lot of guests is a must! I'm using Tammy, and she has been so great, patient, accomodating, informative...the list goes on. Let me just say that both John and I have a large, crazy asian family (we love them tho'). So right off the bat, the idea of a destination wedding was very foreign to them. For a lot of the older adults, traveling was too! And let's just say email is just out of the question...actually, sometimes even picking up the phone to call her was just too much for some of them to handle. I booked a few rezzies on behalf of some of them, just to make things easier. I'm sure Tammy can vouch for this, she had to deal w/ many of phone calls that entailed a lot of questions, ideas, misnomers, changes etc. about traveling to Cabo. She dealt with all of them and not once called me to complain...shoot, I was the one complaining to her!!!!! Thanks Tammy

              So i did a room block of 20 rooms at Dreams. I knew she has a lot of "pull" at the hotel, so I know that we would be taken cared of. One of my guests actually found a cheaper rate for her room on Orbitz, but she had to book it w/ air (which was the only way she was going to get that low room rate). I emailed Tammy about it and she somehow worked her magic. She was able to match that price for our guests! She is truly an advocate for all her brides, she's knows Dreams so well and has a good repor w/ them which I think helps to get excellant service when we get there. Afterall, I am one of "Tammy's brides"!

              So now we have about 40+ rooms booked at Dreams, thanks to Tammy.

              #17 TammyWright

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              Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:39 PM

              i think what people do not realize is that some of the rates you see online are not for an infinite number of rooms...they may only have 2 or 3 rooms at that price and once they are booked the price goes up. you also have to pay in full w/ a lousy cancellation policy. many of your guests may not want to do that. they may just want to put a small deposit down then pay in installments. or they may not be ready to commit to air yet (about 30% of people that book through me end up revising their room reservation...changing dates, length of stay, who they will room with etc.) and want to have some flexibility with their trip which they would not be able to do online.

              and lastly, if you book online you really do not have anyone as your advocate if something does go wrong. i think that is really where our value really shows.

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              #18 TammyWright

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              Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:42 PM

              also, dreams is having a sale right now so the rates are lower...

              they are $350 per night for double occupancy for your dates.

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              #19 Leia78

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                Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:50 PM

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Tammy Host
                i think what people do not realize is that some of the rates you see online are not for an infinite number of rooms...they may only have 2 or 3 rooms at that price and once they are booked the price goes up. you also have to pay in full w/ a lousy cancellation policy. many of your guests may not want to do that. they may just want to put a small deposit down then pay in installments. or they may not be ready to commit to air yet (about 30% of people that book through me end up revising their room reservation...changing dates, length of stay, who they will room with etc.) and want to have some flexibility with their trip which they would not be able to do online. that is so true. This is exactly what happened in my case. Just as an FYI for future brides, this happened a lot for my guests who were single and wanted to later on add a roommate or people who booked a double occupancy and wanted to add a third person to their room. If they booked online, they wouldn't have been able to change their reservation. But b/c they booked their room thru Tammy, they were able to add, or subtract a person in some cases, and keep their rate.

                and lastly, if you book online you really do not have anyone as your advocate if something does go wrong. i think that is really where our value really shows.
                which is why we wanted you!

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by Tammy Host
                also, dreams is having a sale right now so the rates are lower...

                they are $350 per night for double occupancy for your dates.
                thanks for the heads up!

                #20 jmill130

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                  Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:52 PM

                  Our guests are paying 362.00 per night.... some have booked, some have not... I can't get anyone to answer my calls.... I am so angry!

                  I know the value of a TA, but mine has been in meetings... I call and someone says call back in 30 minutes, I do and she's still in a meeting! There is a $500.00 differnece! I don't know how to explain this to my guests! If she would answer the phone they would have booked by now and not be looking on line... HELP!




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