Travel Agents, and even Apple Vacations, are often asked … why book with you, when I can go direct and book with an On-Line Travel Site and save a few dollars.
I say step back and look at the big picture. What are you really saving? OK, you might on occasion save a few dollars, if anything… but what are you getting in return? What if there is a problem, or a delay or change in plans, who is there to help you? Don’t you want a travel agent and a reliable Tour Operator like Apple Vacations to take care of you? Don’t you want a customer service team and representatives in your travel destination?
A friend of mine was planning a trip to New York for an event last fall. I told her to book through the hotel website as the cancellation policy was 4PM day of arrival. She found a rate of $20.00 less with an On-Line Travel Site. I said don’t do it! She did and when the event was moved by one day she was out 100% the cost of the room. She called and asked me for help, and there was nothing anyone could do. They would not allow her to move the date by 1 day. So she paid for a room she never used.
I asked our Travel Agent friend Suzie Sturm for some experience she has had when dealing with On – Line Travel Sites in bookings to Mexico & The Caribbean. This is what she had to say.
With the economy being as it is, we are all looking to save some money. We are all looking for the “trip of our dreams” that we worked hard for all year. We want a nice beach, a clean room and decent flights.
I just had 3 families book their own air from Expedia and book land only from me. Expedia had them on 2 different carriers to get to their destination. Then there was a problem. When they got to the first airport, the woman at the counter had no idea who they were. According to the ticket counter, Expedia never sent the info on the flights. They were at the airport with no one to help. The woman at the desk basically said they would need to rebook and leave the next day. They now had 3 rooms that they are paying for that they could not use. When they got their new flights, the new flight times were terrible with long layovers. I did call the resort and let them know that they would be coming in a day late and called the transfer company with their new times. Keep in mind, sometimes what seems like a great deal – is not a good value! Personal attention and follow through is what most Travel Agents pride themselves in, I know I do. Also, when we tell you to take insurance there is a reason for that! Please listen. For everyone out there who thinks saving a few dollars is going to be worth it, please rethink that! When things like this happen, our hands are tied. There are reasons Expedia is cheaper. They do not have the customer service staff to assist you. If we can leave On-Line Travel sites out of the mix when booking a vacation, we will all be better off.