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!


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