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  Reply # 2095620 24-Sep-2018 16:20
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kingjj:

 

/Rant

 

Wife was a travel agent for years (thankfully well out of that line of work now). She worked long hours, often doing a couple of hours of OT each day (especially around end of month). The problem with the industry is that the majority of travel agents are on base + commission with the base being not much above minimum wage. To make a decent commission they have to up-sell, especially insurance and activities.

 

 

Therein lines part of the problem as well. There are both good and bad travel agents out there but when you're essentially on minimum wage + bonus it becomes a race to the bottom. Commissions from everybody (incl airlines) have dropped significantly.

 

You can't afford to waste large amounts of time with people who may be tyre kickers simply looking for advice before booking their holiday online - but also can't easily tell who these people may be.


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  Reply # 2095622 24-Sep-2018 16:23
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I haven't used a travel agent for years. We even booked our whole honeymoon online five years ago - flights, Expedia for some hotels, some direct, didn't have any problems at all. If I needed some kind of complex flights then I might consider a travel agent.

 

If you book flights with different airlines I have a vague recollection that you must leave 12 hours between them or travel insurance won't cover missed connections. That's probably not right and policy specific.

 

Also be careful to get travel insurance and specify all your pre-existing conditions. If your regular health insurance company does travel insurance that'd be a good way to get travel insurance, just say "look at what my health insurance policy says".





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  Reply # 2095633 24-Sep-2018 16:36
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sbiddle:

 

You can't afford to waste large amounts of time with people who may be tyre kickers simply looking for advice before booking their holiday online - but also can't easily tell who these people may be.

 

 

Yeah, I get that. But as the inverse to that, my wife now refuses to deal with the agent that originally served us. She was quite unimpressed with the level of service and perceived disinterest we got from her. And considering we're looking at a potential $30-40K budget for this (excluding spending money), that would seem like a wee bit of commission to be lost.


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  Reply # 2095638 24-Sep-2018 16:47
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dclegg:

 

sbiddle:

 

You can't afford to waste large amounts of time with people who may be tyre kickers simply looking for advice before booking their holiday online - but also can't easily tell who these people may be.

 

 

Yeah, I get that. But as the inverse to that, my wife now refuses to deal with the agent that originally served us. She was quite unimpressed with the level of service and perceived disinterest we got from her. And considering we're looking at a potential $30-40K budget for this (excluding spending money), that would seem like a wee bit of commission to be lost.

 

 

My girlfriend has used a travel agent in Wellington for quite a few trips now that have involved tours and complex itineraries. Last year she booked a trip and had a list of hotels, one of which she decided to book directly.

 

The price was only a few $ cheaper but it had (from memory) breakfast and a bigger room (and probably points - lots of the chains won't give points on commissionable bookings). She mentioned to the travel agent when she went back and the agent was really shitty about this. It was a great way to lose a customer who had probably given her $30k over a couple of years.

 

 


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  Reply # 2095702 24-Sep-2018 18:24
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networkn:

 

Where we have found agents to be better is in multi stop over trips, esp if they are complicated. 

 

 

I booked a multi stop trip last week - London/Tokyo. 3 passengers, different travel dates, but some shared flights, so we wanted to ensure we would be seated together. So, I visited a travel agent to see what they could offer.

 

What they offered were fights that totaled $3,600 more than booking directly online!

 

So we lined up three PCs side by side, did 3 simultaneous searches for each person, checked the flights we wanted matched, booked and paid for the three tickets simultaneously, while even lining up selected seats. 

 

In 2015 we booked an European trip entirely online:

 

- main tickets via Air NZ online

 

- short haul trips across Europe via Easy Jet online (and their mobile app was great)

 

- French trains online (great pricing).

 

- AirBNB for all accommodation,  we were able to secure entire apartments for the same price travel agents were offering single hotel rooms (for 3 people).


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  Reply # 2095727 24-Sep-2018 19:02
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If you are looking for luxury hotels, booking through some travel agents can get bonuses when you stay like a $100 USD credit, room upgrade, late check-in and check-out and free breakfast through programs like Virtuoso, Starwood Luxury Hotels & Privileges, Hyatt Prive, Four Season Preferred Partners or Shangri-La Luxury Circle.

 

 

 

Otherwise, travel agents are probably a waste of time


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  Reply # 2095807 24-Sep-2018 20:53
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I was referred to a travel agent fifteen years ago when planning a mountain bike bike trip across Chile to Bolivia. I had my plans made out for the trip and he slotted it all together along with side trips to Lake Titicaca and the lost city of the Inca's in Peru. He arranged all the flights, nine in total and accommodation where nessasary. The agent did a really good job and the trip went smoothly.

 

When planning the above I was lucky to be introduced to the owner of the agency and we both had a good rapport with each other and on the same wave length so that was a good foundation. I have since used the same agent for a trip to America, a trip to Europe, a trip to Canada and a five week trip to Japan. He has also done several short trips for us like a week in HongKong, Tailand and Bali One thing that I found was that if you want to book a rental car with Avis or Hertz I did my own research and got pricing on line but the agent was substantially cheaper. They must get bulk w/sale rates and can price accordingly. I was lucky that the agent traveled extensively and had a good range of resources to call on for information. For example even though I had mapped out what I wanted to do and see in Japan I needed help to string it together. An agent from the Japanese tourist board in Auckland was down in Christchurch on business so I was given two hours to sit down with him and get ideas. That was free of charge.He came from the Island of Shukuku were I wanted to explore the temples etc and his help and information was extremely valuable. They also gave me the web site, " Hyperdia" so I could get all the train timetables for each day. The agent also gave me paper maps for each hotel in relation to the train station so it was easy to find the accommodation each day especially when there was no English signs. Also on the Japanese trip he was able to get us Premium acconomy seats on AirNZ for not much more than cattle class that we would have flown normally. 

 

If I want to go up to Auckland for a couple of days I will book airfares on line looking at Jetstar and AirNZ for prices and flight times. Also book a car and hotel on line or ring them. I have in the past booked holidays in Australia using online and phone with no problem.

 

For the simple trips there is no reason not to do it yourself but where you need a lot of local knowledge an experienced and well traveled, travel agent can be of huge benefit.

 

I suppose that like most people who deal with one firm on a regular basis you tend to get good service and support as as customer. I find that is very worthwhile.

 

  


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  Reply # 2095813 24-Sep-2018 21:01
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We booked and traveled Italy and France on our own without using a travel agent.

 

It depends whether you love/hate the idea of searching and booking hotels,flights yourself.
I love doing my own research - going through various blog/forum posts, documentaries, travel shows helps me get to know the place and also gives me a nice teaser of the holiday that's coming up laughing 

 

As many already pointed out, the Travel agents works for a commission and definitely they wouldn't suggest low key non-corporate hotel / accommodation which may have a better views and facilities than the other ones.

 

Some places are better seen in Train and some in car. Those choices can't be sold in a booklet and handed over to every customer. Same goes with the activities in the visiting city - Only you can better judge what you like to do there.
Also if you are booking for yourself, you have control on where to spend more (Eiffel tower view, beachfront,etc..) and where to spend less (transit hotels, history trails..)

 

The most memorable places that we have stayed are the ones which aren't commonly known - I recommend (if you have the luxury of time and energy) doing your own research and book the flight tickets and hotels. When going through this process, you will know the local culture and preference. You will be better equipped to deal with it when the moment arrives (and if you are lucky you'll save some $$$$ as well). 

 

If you plan an itinerary and work out a rough estimate, you can compare that with the agents quote and decide from there.

 

P.S. We watched Michael Portillo's bbc documentary - Great Continental Rail Journeys, Phil's ,Anthony Bourdain's travel show in Netflix on Europe, Rick Steve's videos (though i found it boring  - kind of class room lecture), read many tripadvisor, lonely planet forums. If you are going to stay in a place for long time, get a Lonely planet book for that place - it has tips on accommodation, transport, activities (when to plan what),etc.  Use Cheaptickets and Orbitz  for hotel booking wherever you can - they have discount codes for 16% frequently - use flyertalk to find them (useful for airline deals as well). sawdays , mrandmrs smith , tablet - for boutique hotels. PM me if you need any details for Italy / France travel plan.

 

 


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  Reply # 2095829 24-Sep-2018 21:40
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I prefer travel agents for these reasons

 

1) If flights are delayed and cause me to miss connecting flights, I only need to call the travel agent for them to take care of things.

 

2) I can buy travel insurance when I buy the tickets.I've had to use this in the past, Otherwise would have been $7,500 out of pocket (and quite a delay), to get my kids home from overseas. So grateful to the travel agent who asked if I wanted travel insurance.

 

 

 

I go direct to the airline when I just need flights within NZ, but for our trips to South America, it's so great having someone available to help when/if things don't go to plan. Happy to pay a little extra for this service.

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 2095833 24-Sep-2018 21:56
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Kiwifruta:

 

I prefer travel agents for these reasons

 

1) If flights are delayed and cause me to miss connecting flights, I only need to call the travel agent for them to take care of things.

 

2) I can buy travel insurance when I buy the tickets.I've had to use this in the past, Otherwise would have been $7,500 out of pocket (and quite a delay), to get my kids home from overseas. So grateful to the travel agent who asked if I wanted travel insurance.

 

 

I see neither of these as travel agent benefits.

 

Depending on the situation a travel agent typically can't do anything if you miss a flight. If both flights are on the same PNR it's up to the airline to sort you out and that's exactly what they'll do - a travel agent can't do anything in this case.

 

If your flights are on different PNRs and you miss one at best a travel agent can sell you a new ticket. I would however be questioning how the travel agent got you into that situation - booking connecting flights that could be delayed is a very risky thing to do and if you're a risk adverse traveller I'd highly recommend it. Even with the amount of travel I do I will never willingly book same day connections onto a long haul flight without them being on the same PNR. The risks are simply too great.

 

As for travel insurance booking international travel without it is just crazy.. But after looking in this extensively earlier in the year for a post I started to write for TravelTalk that has ended up in the "too difficult" basket at present, buying travel insurance from two major travel agents was IMHO the worst thing you could do. Their policies had some glaring clauses in them and were pretty expensive (they make great commission on them). Not all travel insurance is created equal, and there are some pretty important clauses to be aware of particularly if you have travel before you leave the country as some policies will provide no cover at all until you've left NZ.

 

 


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  Reply # 2095874 25-Sep-2018 07:07
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sbiddle:

 

Kiwifruta:

 

I prefer travel agents for these reasons

 

1) If flights are delayed and cause me to miss connecting flights, I only need to call the travel agent for them to take care of things.

 

2) I can buy travel insurance when I buy the tickets.I've had to use this in the past, Otherwise would have been $7,500 out of pocket (and quite a delay), to get my kids home from overseas. So grateful to the travel agent who asked if I wanted travel insurance.

 

 

I see neither of these as travel agent benefits.

 

Depending on the situation a travel agent typically can't do anything if you miss a flight. If both flights are on the same PNR it's up to the airline to sort you out and that's exactly what they'll do - a travel agent can't do anything in this case.

 

If your flights are on different PNRs and you miss one at best a travel agent can sell you a new ticket. I would however be questioning how the travel agent got you into that situation - booking connecting flights that could be delayed is a very risky thing to do and if you're a risk adverse traveller I'd highly recommend it. Even with the amount of travel I do I will never willingly book same day connections onto a long haul flight without them being on the same PNR. The risks are simply too great.

 

As for travel insurance booking international travel without it is just crazy.. But after looking in this extensively earlier in the year for a post I started to write for TravelTalk that has ended up in the "too difficult" basket at present, buying travel insurance from two major travel agents was IMHO the worst thing you could do. Their policies had some glaring clauses in them and were pretty expensive (they make great commission on them). Not all travel insurance is created equal, and there are some pretty important clauses to be aware of particularly if you have travel before you leave the country as some policies will provide no cover at all until you've left NZ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the weather, my wife and kids had their initial domestic flight in South America cancelled, meaning the next day they couldn't make the first of their 3 international flights heading back to NZ. The international flights were booked with an N.Z. agent, and because we were unable to book it from N.Z. the domestic South American flight was booked with a South American agent. Booking the international flights from South America would have cost 2-3 times as much as the agent there would only sell return flights and at prices far higher than N.Z. prices. Hence two sets of tickets.

 

Being able to call my travel agent to have her organise new international flights and have the insurance cover the cost of the tickets was a godsend. She worked overtime to get it done, unfortunately, she no longer works in the industry.

 

Quite stressful when the next day the government of one of the countries wouldn't let my kids out of that country, but that's another story.

 

I stand by my statement, that I prefer using travel agents for the 2 reasons mentioned above, someone knowledgeable to help out when things hit the fan.

 

 


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  Reply # 2095882 25-Sep-2018 07:39
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If you are a confident traveler that can work out for yourself things like allowing the appropriate extra time at a crap airport (like LAX) and hotel check in times then do it online using sites like airnz, expedia or webjet. If its a complex trip and you are not confident with such things then use the travel agent. Expedia is well capable of doing complex travel however and they have live chat help and a really good app that in my opinion does a better job than the average travel agent at a better price. Ive done quite a lot of travel, some of it complex (the last one was 9 flights) and I have not used an agent in the last 10 years. An interesting trend is that some times the best deals can actually be had directly on airlines websites, like recently I got business class flights to the US via Hawaiian Airlines at almost the same price as everyone else's premium economy, I found this through careful comparing between Expedia, Webjet and the Hawaiian website. Everything else I booked via Expedia.


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  Reply # 2095956 25-Sep-2018 08:52
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sbiddle:

 

 

 

Depending on the situation a travel agent typically can't do anything if you miss a flight. If both flights are on the same PNR it's up to the airline to sort you out and that's exactly what they'll do - a travel agent can't do anything in this case.

 

If your flights are on different PNRs and you miss one at best a travel agent can sell you a new ticket. I would however be questioning how the travel agent got you into that situation - booking connecting flights that could be delayed is a very risky thing to do and if you're a risk adverse traveller I'd highly recommend it. Even with the amount of travel I do I will never willingly book same day connections onto a long haul flight without them being on the same PNR. The risks are simply too great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The single PNR is critical. I went to book a multi airline flight on-line from Auckland to Toulouse. I tried several on-line aggregating sites including Sky Scanner but I could not get satisfied that when I pressed the 'pay now' button that I was going to get issued the whole journey with one PNR. So rather than take the risk I booked through a travel agent.

 

 

 

In the end I was routed with Qatar to Madrid and then Iberia Airways to Toulouse. This was the same routing Sky Scanner produced, but there was no indication if it would be one PNR or two. And the travel agent told me she could do it $100 cheaper if it was two PNR's - so there was a risk that the Sky Scanner quote was actually going to be two PNR's.

 

 

 

I looked at another aggregating site that appeared to give a really good price (for the same journey) and it was only at the 'pay now' button that it showed a message saying 'hand/cabin baggage included'. That raised my eyebrows as it is nearly always included with every airline, so it made me wonder if it included  no checked baggage. So sent a support message off and sure enough this 32 hours flight half way round the world included no checked baggage. It would have been very easy to book this as there was no message or link to fare rules BEFORE you paid.


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  Reply # 2095964 25-Sep-2018 09:06
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There are lots of catches to be aware of when booking fares that can catch out people who don't know, and also very important rules for luggage which can be determined by the MSC (most significant carrier) on a ticket.

 

Interline and codeshare agreements can also pose issues for people who aren't aware - and I'll use a classic example which I read about a few days ago of booking a BA / NZ flight from LHR to AKL via PVG (Shanghai). BA and NZ have a codeshare and interline agreement despite being in different alliances and you can connect to BA flights from a few different Asian and North American destinations through to the UK.

 

At PVG Air NZ's interline baggage agreement only extends to transit to/from Lufthansa, Austrian Air, Swiss, Scandinavian, Eva Air or Virgin Atlantic so if you're booked on BA you'll need to clear immigration and apply for a 72hr transit visa, then collect your bags and then check back in again for the BA flight.

 

 


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  Reply # 2095986 25-Sep-2018 09:31
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risingstar:

 

We booked and traveled Italy and France on our own without using a travel agent.

 

It depends whether you love/hate the idea of searching and booking hotels,flights yourself.
I love doing my own research - going through various blog/forum posts, documentaries, travel shows helps me get to know the place and also gives me a nice teaser of the holiday that's coming up laughing 

 

As many already pointed out, the Travel agents works for a commission and definitely they wouldn't suggest low key non-corporate hotel / accommodation which may have a better views and facilities than the other ones.

 

Some places are better seen in Train and some in car. Those choices can't be sold in a booklet and handed over to every customer. Same goes with the activities in the visiting city - Only you can better judge what you like to do there.
Also if you are booking for yourself, you have control on where to spend more (Eiffel tower view, beachfront,etc..) and where to spend less (transit hotels, history trails..)

 

The most memorable places that we have stayed are the ones which aren't commonly known - I recommend (if you have the luxury of time and energy) doing your own research and book the flight tickets and hotels. When going through this process, you will know the local culture and preference. You will be better equipped to deal with it when the moment arrives (and if you are lucky you'll save some $$$$ as well). 

 

If you plan an itinerary and work out a rough estimate, you can compare that with the agents quote and decide from there.

 

P.S. We watched Michael Portillo's bbc documentary - Great Continental Rail Journeys, Phil's ,Anthony Bourdain's travel show in Netflix on Europe, Rick Steve's videos (though i found it boring  - kind of class room lecture), read many tripadvisor, lonely planet forums. If you are going to stay in a place for long time, get a Lonely planet book for that place - it has tips on accommodation, transport, activities (when to plan what),etc.  Use Cheaptickets and Orbitz  for hotel booking wherever you can - they have discount codes for 16% frequently - use flyertalk to find them (useful for airline deals as well). sawdays , mrandmrs smith , tablet - for boutique hotels. PM me if you need any details for Italy / France travel plan.

 

 

+1 to this.

 

We didn't book our flights ourselves (mainly because it was our first time to Europe, and we wanted a stop over) - we went to the Flight Centre Expo thing and did it there (that way, there was no dilly-dallying, it was booked and we were going!)

 

The Euro-Lease car from Paris, I would have been happy to do myself, but the agent did it for the same price as I could have, so if she got a commission off it, that's fine by me.

 

All accommodation, we booked ourselves. Mostly AirBnB, which in Europe is fantastic. We had an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - fantastic, another apartment on the shore of Lake Como, another one two blocks back from the Vatican in Rome. We also used Booking.com, and hotel websites (stayed at Travelodge Covent Garden for five nights - that is a great location for not much money if anyone's interested).

 

@dclegg - sounds like you're ready for an awesome trip - we looked at a river cruise, but didn't really have the time to spare, and we felt we got a lot out of driving to where we wanted to go and when. With AirBnB we would look at a map, decide where we wanted to be, and book something and go. The only accommodation we booked before leaving NZ was Paris and London (either end of the trip). I usually like to have everything sort of in place ahead of time so I can research etc., but had a great holiday doing it this way as well.

 

 

 

We are saving to go back. Next time I think we will probably just do 4 places for about a week in each. Probably Paris, somewhere in Spain, Provence and Tuscany. Although, I'd love to see more of Germany and Austria (didn't see much of wither this time, not enough time, but what we did see was beautiful!)


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