Thursday, November 12, 2009

Re-Post from 4/18/09!

Good morning to everyone today! I hope everybody had a productive week and have had the opportunity to enjoy some of the beautiful weather we are having. As all of you are well aware, this 75 degree sunshine will only last maybe a couple more weeks here in Southeast Alabama. This week I am going to talk about the one topic that I feel has been touched on WAY more than others, but I have to do it again because every single week I have been in the travel industry I hear the same thing: Why should I use a travel agent instead of booking myself online?

This is a very fair question that 2 years ago I asked myself. Linds and I wanted to go to Walt Disney World for a few days during her Christmas break. So, just like I am sure most of you would have done I went to the Disney website and begin to click away. Two days later and what seemed like a million clicks, I had at least 10 different quotes on what I thought was the same trip and gave up and called a local agency. I told the young lady what we had in mind for our trip and she said to give her a few minutes and she would call me back. Sure enough, about an hour later she called with everything laid out for me along with a price that was a little bit lower than any of the ten quotes I had gotten online. Whew! How easy was that? Also I knew if there was a problem of any kind that I could call her, a local person in a local office with my issue. Trust me on this one...try calling an 800 # and understanding the language the person on the other end speaks. Plus if you do manage to master their language what happens if you get cut off? I know, you call back into a huge call center and no one has a clue what you were just discussing with the other guy. This one experience two years ago is where the idea of becoming a travel agent myself was born.

I am going to try to explain exactly what I do and how I get paid for my services as shortly as I can. First of all, let me explain my name sake. The name of my business is Wiregrass Travel, the franchise I purchased is Cruise Planners. I am assuming the reason the founders of Cruise Planners took on this name is because of the fact that they had worked in the cruise industry all of their careers and the fact that cruising has become the most popular, profitable form of vacation. To me, however, the name is very misleading. It tells, in my opinion, the customers that we only plan cruises. Cruise Planners is partnered with American Express travel and we have the same access to everything AMEX has to offer. I am sure all of you know that American Express has been the leading authority in travel for years and years. We book just about anything you can think of (European tours, hotels in NYC, Disney, all-inclusive, ski packages) at the same, or most of the time a few dollars cheaper than you can doing all the work yourself online! It does not cost you one penny more to use an agent, plus you get to talk to only one person, me. The only thing I would like to add to this is if you just need a standard hotel room for a couple nights in anywhere USA(not a major city or resort), yes it is easy and yes you may as well book it yourself.

Now here is the next question out of every one's mouth after hearing all that: Wow that's great but how much of a fee do you charge for your time? NOTHING!!!!!!! The tour companies, cruise lines, resorts, hotels, ect. pay the agents a percentage of the amount you spend in commission. Well do they raise the price to us the consumer to offset that percentage? NO!!!!! The vacation companies realize just how vast the travel industry is and they feel it is worth it to them to lower their amount of profit by the amount of commission paid to have us, the travel agents, help the customer sort through everything out there and recommend their form of travel. It is very literally a win win for both you and me.

Please do me a favor, if you hear anyone talking about any form of travel, tell them about this blog and how a travel agent can help. I promise it will help them feel better about their vacation and help me be successful. Like I said win win.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Little Catching Up!

Good wet morning to all! I decided to write a rare mid-week blog to follow up one the previous one where I left you hanging. If you remember I abruptly ended that one due to the fact the hospital staff had brought my grandfather's breakfast in and he needed some help eating. As for an update on him, me and my grandmother went to the rehab hospital where he has been since that same Saturday and received some great news yesterday. He is doing really well and we get to bring him home tomorrow! As for today it will be catching up on as much work as possible because we all know how hospital discharges can seem to take ALL day, then we have to get him home and settled.
Boy, it is wet outside if you live in the great state of Alabama today. It has pretty much rained all night long thanks to TS Ida. We all should be very thankful because to the best of my knowledge there has been no damage from this storm. The one major concern I do have is for the cotton farmers. Some of you probably know that my dad manages a cotton gin and he was really worried yesterday that the heavy rain and/or wind would ruin what is looking like a great crop. Whether you good people from the Dothan area know it or not, even though there aren't that many farmers in the area percentage wise they have a HUGE impact on the local economy. I have been in several different type of businesses and in everyone of them there is a direct correlation between good crop years and upswings in business...not to mention the guys really need these "bumper" years to offset the bad ones.
OK I know you didn't come here to hear all about the economy. I want to run through some specials that are going on right now in the travel industry. Disney cruise lines are running their "kids sail free" promotion on select cruises for most of the spring. Walt Disney World has a buy four nights get three free promotion going for any of their moderate resorts and above as well as buy five get three free at their value resorts. As is the case almost always this time of year all the cruise lines are making their way to the Caribbean for the winter and that means prices are getting dirt cheap for sailings all the way through mid-May. I strongly encourage all of you who are on a budget(like most of us are) to seriously think about taking a cruise now while the prices are low, just to experience it once. I think you will fall in love with the idea. Alaska group bookings are in their prime right now through the end of the year and I have a couple groups blocked for late next season(Aug.-Sept.) so let me know if you are interested in those. Sandals all-inclusive has a 65% off sale going on now and if you know me you know this is one of my favorites! I have also been getting some really good specials via email from the ski resorts out west. And last but not least did you know you can have a four day weekend to Vegas in March and stay at the Bellagio for less than $600 per person including air fare and transfers? Just some things to think about this rainy day. As always thank you all for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Oh yea, I almost forgot...The week of Thanksgiving the office of Wiregrass Travel will be closed all week. Gonna have a little family time and I encourage you to do the same :)