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      07-19-2013, 01:09 PM   #1
M_Six
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Travel agents - worth the cost?

Wifey and I are thinking about a Hawaiian cruise around Thanksgiving. Fly out to Honolulu, get on a boat, and cruise the islands for a week.

Normally we plan and book all our own trips, but we were wondering if using a travel agent might not get us some perks on this trip like a cabin upgrade or whatever. Does anyone here use travel agents to book trips? How much do they generally charge and is the ROI worth it?
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      07-19-2013, 01:36 PM   #2
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No, I shopped both the travel agency and Costco...ended up going to costco for a slightly cheaper rate and some perks, ie upgraded rooms and slight discount on activities. The best part is, all of it is arranged by Costco...just like having a travel agent.
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      07-19-2013, 01:48 PM   #3
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No, I shopped both the travel agency and Costco...ended up going to costco for a slightly cheaper rate and some perks, ie upgraded rooms and slight discount on activities. The best part is, all of it is arranged by Costco...just like having a travel agent.
Did you end up with travel plans you liked? Like flight schedules? I'd want some control over that to make sure I didn't end up with a 15 hour layover in DFW or O'Hare or something.
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      07-19-2013, 01:57 PM   #4
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I've been in that situation. From my experience most travel agencies only offer expensive packages. All the good ones around here specialize in vacations of $15k-20k and up. I would search online for deals or go to Costco. If you do it online make sure to check the flight time and duration.
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      07-19-2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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Did you end up with travel plans you liked? Like flight schedules? I'd want some control over that to make sure I didn't end up with a 15 hour layover in DFW or O'Hare or something.
yes, I got the days I wanted and even the seats I wanted. No lay overs/direct flights from san diego to HI. I book all my activities on the Costco site as well and they cover all transportation to and from the activity sites. they even pick you up from the airport, unless you get a rental car.
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      07-19-2013, 02:08 PM   #6
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I've been in that situation. From my experience most travel agencies only offer expensive packages. All the good ones around here specialize in vacations of $15k-20k and up. I would search online for deals or go to Costco. If you do it online make sure to check the flight time and duration.

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yes, I got the days I wanted and even the seats I wanted. No lay overs/direct flights from san diego to HI. I book all my activities on the Costco site as well and they cover all transportation to and from the activity sites. they even pick you up from the airport, unless you get a rental car.
Thanks, I'll look into that.

I did already find out that the airfare alone more than doubles for the Thanksgiving week, so we won't be going then. But the week prior looks good.
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      07-19-2013, 02:19 PM   #7
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Thanks, I'll look into that.

I did already find out that the airfare alone more than doubles for the Thanksgiving week, so we won't be going then. But the week prior looks good.

You have a lot of time which is good...I booked mine 2 months in advance and just for shits and giggles I booked an identical trip 3 weeks before the actual day and it went up about $500 and change.
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      07-19-2013, 03:17 PM   #8
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Don't "cruise around" the Hawaiian Islands. Spend some time on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.
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      07-19-2013, 03:32 PM   #9
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Don't "cruise around" the Hawaiian Islands. Spend some time on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.
This cruise actually spends two days on each, plus we plan on adding "shore time" to the trip.
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      07-19-2013, 03:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by PSUSMU View Post
Don't "cruise around" the Hawaiian Islands. Spend some time on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.
This. You're not going to get much of the island experience from a boat trip.

I have also never needed a travel agent. If you have an afternoon and a computer you have all of the tools you need to successfully book your own travel. Kayak is great for flights as you can see all options available as well as the nearby dates to see if it might be cheaper with a slight tweak. Hotels are also cake. Many have special rates through the travel sites (expedia, hotels.com, etc.).

My best advice is to do it on your own. Oh, and skip the cruise part. It's the "buffet lunch" of traveling. Sure, you get to experience a peppering of each place but you never get the full experience.
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      07-19-2013, 04:02 PM   #11
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Travel agents are a lot more expensive than you booking on your own.. They wont give you any special deals that you can find online. And if you do and tell them about it they will NOT match it.
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      07-19-2013, 04:30 PM   #12
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Travel agents are a lot more expensive than you booking on your own.. They wont give you any special deals that you can find online. And if you do and tell them about it they will NOT match it.
Makes you wonder how they stay in business.
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      07-19-2013, 05:22 PM   #13
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No it's not worth it. Travel agents don't do anything special. You're paying someone to browse the internet for you, essentially.

You should also be wary about paying for vacation packages that combine hotel, airfare, etc.

Sometimes, getting things a la carte ends up being a little cheaper.
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      07-19-2013, 07:06 PM   #14
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Yeah, how DO they stay in business?
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      07-19-2013, 08:14 PM   #15
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It's funny. When we last booked flights to Asia a few months ago, we were able to find available flights for about $1350 when a local travel agency couldn't find the flight we wanted. Well, they could but it was going to cost about $2,000. I've never had the need to use a travel agency to really book a trip so I'm not sure if it's worth it. However, based on what I've seen you can do everything yourself. Even Costco costs more than if you were to book things on your own.
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      07-19-2013, 10:31 PM   #16
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Yeah, how DO they stay in business?
from people who don't want to bother doing their own shopping online (like my parents). the only reason i can think of using a travel agent is if you want to pay in hard cash.

+1 for kayak... it was really easy getting everything started for my europe trip
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      07-22-2013, 02:07 AM   #17
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My only reason for using a travel agent is because I flip flop my tickets around a LOT.
Expedia for example doesn't really allow me to book a flight, then change my mind 3 hours before the flight and not get charged a dime. Or change my return ticket without penalty after I actually flew to my destination.

Also, if you miss you flight or whatever, Expedia will not help you.
I've gotten to certain hotels also where I just didn't end up liking it. Called the travel agent, she figured everything out with the hotel and booked me a new one instead of me bumbling around with roaming 3G trying to find a hotel.

It has some benefits and you need to know where your agent is competent.
ticket prices usually vary a mere 25$ and hotel is maybe 10$ more expensive. For the time it saves me, and all that flexibility, IMO, worth it!
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      07-22-2013, 11:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
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My only reason for using a travel agent is because I flip flop my tickets around a LOT.
Expedia for example doesn't really allow me to book a flight, then change my mind 3 hours before the flight and not get charged a dime. Or change my return ticket without penalty after I actually flew to my destination.

Also, if you miss you flight or whatever, Expedia will not help you.
I've gotten to certain hotels also where I just didn't end up liking it. Called the travel agent, she figured everything out with the hotel and booked me a new one instead of me bumbling around with roaming 3G trying to find a hotel.

It has some benefits and you need to know where your agent is competent.
ticket prices usually vary a mere 25$ and hotel is maybe 10$ more expensive. For the time it saves me, and all that flexibility, IMO, worth it!
I have to agree with Comet here. Any time there is an issue, expedia, kayak or any other website is not going to be able to provide the customer service/fixes/perks that a travel agent can provide. I have been stuck between connecting flights a few times, and I can tell you the difference in having a travel agent making the calls to the airline and you making the calls is like night and day.

If you book through kayak and go to a resort, you should also not expect to get anything extra in regards to upgrades, etc. You get exactly what you pay for. Booking through a travel agent can get you little extras that make the stay that much more memorable. My wife and I went to Turks and Caicos recently and were upgraded to an ocean view honeymoon suite with complimentary champagne and a few other perks just based off the fact that we went outside of peak season and our agent made a 5 minute phone call.

As far as the people wondering how travel agents stay in business, they make commission back from the resorts and hotels. This also creates a business relationship that helps get you those free add-ons, because the resort gets to know the agency, and will reward those clients based off of the volume being sent their way.

Travel agents also rake in cash on the extra fees they charge you on top of your vacation, which goes directly in their pocket. But, that said, there is a travel agency based locally that does not charge for their services, which makes it a win-win for me. OP, or anybody else for that matter, you can PM me if you would like the website.
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      07-22-2013, 01:17 PM   #19
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I work at a hotel and trust me, the one thing we hate the most are dealing with people who went through travel agencies or 3rd party reservation websites(travelocity, hotwire, expedia). 99% of the time the room isnt the right one that the guest wanted, ie: guest wants 2 beds and the reservation is only for one. Since they are 3rd party reservations no changes, extensions, or cancellations can be made. Last night I was dealing with this guy who was staying with us for 6 nights. His travel agency never send an authorization to pay for his stay and he was stuck at our place(halfway across the country) with no way to check in. Finally he payed us for one night with cash and has to get in touch with the travel company to get full authorization. Most hotels can match prices listed by other sites/companies as long as you have proof.
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      07-22-2013, 07:32 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I work at a hotel and trust me, the one thing we hate the most are dealing with people who went through travel agencies or 3rd party reservation websites(travelocity, hotwire, expedia). 99% of the time the room isnt the right one that the guest wanted, ie: guest wants 2 beds and the reservation is only for one. Since they are 3rd party reservations no changes, extensions, or cancellations can be made. Last night I was dealing with this guy who was staying with us for 6 nights. His travel agency never send an authorization to pay for his stay and he was stuck at our place(halfway across the country) with no way to check in. Finally he payed us for one night with cash and has to get in touch with the travel company to get full authorization. Most hotels can match prices listed by other sites/companies as long as you have proof.
I find that sometimes I get better rates directly through the hotel (especially locally if they offer FL resident rates) however many times they are much cheaper through the 3rd party sites. However I always call ahead of time the hotel directly to confirm everything is as I booked.
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      07-23-2013, 12:06 AM   #21
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I find that sometimes I get better rates directly through the hotel (especially locally if they offer FL resident rates) however many times they are much cheaper through the 3rd party sites. However I always call ahead of time the hotel directly to confirm everything is as I booked.
Most of the time we match prices for people who are staying for more than a week, where the total price can be really high. I always tell guests to avoid travel agencies and third party hotlines because no changes can be made to extend or shorten stays either. A lot of people leave 2-3 days early on pre paid reservations and just have to deal with it because once we get the authorization from a company we charge the full amount
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      07-23-2013, 01:37 AM   #22
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i don't mind dealing face to face (when i'm actually there), otherwise online is still a great way to go to get started. and kayak is a meta site so it does redirect you to the actual hotel/airline
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