Little Travel Co.

The Little Travel Consultant. Helping You Create Memories. Based in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. The Little Travel Consultant is affiliated with Nexion Canada, ULC 100-235 North Centre Rd, London, On N5X 4E7 HQ Phone 519-660-6966 TICO Reg# 1549342 ~~~

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Five myths about travel Consultants

by Everett Potter, Special for USA TODAY
Mention the phrase "travel agent" to many travelers, regardless of age, and they can't imagine why they would ever use one. It's easier and faster than ever to book a hotel, airline ticket or car rental online, and there are user reviews everywhere, so why would anyone need an agent? We found out when we looked at some of the myths about how they work.
1. I can easily book the same trip on my own without using a travel agent.
Sure, you can book a trip yourself, but it may not be the same trip that you'd get through a travel agent.
"If they book it themselves, they're just a credit card number" to a travel supplier, says Anne Morgan Scully, president of McCabe World Travel, a Virtuoso agency in McLean, Va. "I make a point of knowing the general manager of the hotel where they might be staying and I usually call the GM the night before one of my clients arrives and see if they might be upgraded. If they book with a good agent, they're known on arrival."
 Agents are especially useful on specialized trips, whether it's a honeymoon, a cruise or an adventure travel vacation.

"Anyone can book a hotel room and a rental car but I sell romantic trips and adventure travel to Africa," says Jonathan Haraty of Jon's Dive & Travel Services in East Longmeadow, Mass., a Tripology agency. "Do you want to take a chance on booking your own hotel or safari camp in Africa? Will someone be there to pick you up in the airport in Nairobi? I know people who've been stranded when they arrive. That's one reason you need an agent."
"They can read all of the hotel and resort reviews on the Web that they want," he says. "But will they really be happy at an all-inclusive resort? Do they plan to go out every night? What kind of room do they really want? The answers aren't readily available on the internet."
"It's simply knowing who to call," says Scully.
And when you're stranded because of a canceled or delayed flight, there's nothing like e-mailing or texting your travel agent to get you on another flight. They can often do it much faster than the airline.
2. I can get cheaper prices online than I can when booking through a travel agent.
"You could be correct," Scully demurs, "But it's not what you pay walking in the door, it's what you pay when you leave."
She's referring to the upgrades that a good agent can get for a client, upgrades based on a relationship with a hotel, a cruise line or a tour operator. Agents who send clients to the same properties get to know the staff. The hotels and cruise lines, for example, want repeat business, and might reward the agent's clients with perks like a room or cabin upgrade or a bottle of champagne. It could be complimentary breakfast during a stay or even a spa credit. These are much more than niceties. The value can add up quickly when the hotel in question is charging $25 or much more per person for breakfast or hundreds of dollars more per night for a larger room category. Scully says that even if a client finds a good price at hotel, she can often make a call and get a perk or two thrown in to sweeten the deal.
3. Travel agents steer you to hotels or cruise lines where they get a higher commission.
Not true, says Scully, who says that "we wouldn't keep our clients if we did that."
Instead, she plays what she calls "The Match Game," developing a relationship with a client and learning what their tastes are.
"I could be getting a huge commission from some cruise line but if the client isn't a fit, it doesn't make sense," she says. "It's all about finding the perfect match."
4. Travel agents charge surcharges and fees on top of the price.
Some certainly do. Travel agents get paid on commission by hotels, airlines and resorts, but many more are charging fees on top of that because of their time. Putting together an itinerary, particularly one involving a complicated trip, like a safari, or booking multiple tickets and transfers for an extended family vacation, is a lot of work. Charging a fee is a bit of insurance for all of the time and effort put into creating an itinerary in the event that a client ends up canceling.
"You could spend three weeks creating an itinerary and then a client could take it and shop it around for the lowest price," says Haraty. "When I plan a trip to Africa, it could be 100 e-mails back and forth, multiple phone calls, and two months before its finalized."
That said, everyone handles fees differently. Some agencies charge fees up front and then drop the fees when the client actually books.
5. All travel agents are the same.
"Absolutely not," says Scully. "It's like picking a lawyer, doctor or dentist. They need to be right for you and certified by the right organizations. I think people have to realize we are counselors and concierges and lifestyle planners. People should choose a travel planner the way they choose a financial planner."

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