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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 11-10-2007, 07:52 AM
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How many people can say they once had a travel agent who had an engineering degree from RPI, and helped design the 767? She is really a unique woman!


Dave, I wonder if you've seen the most interesting part of her resume? We went out to dinner with them many years ago, to a Moroccan place that had a belly dancer. When the dancer danced over to our table, M got up and belly danced with her! Apparently M had taken belly dance classes and did a good job showing off.

I'm glad to hear they have children. I know they wanted that.

Sandy
  #22 (permalink)  
Old 11-18-2007, 09:24 AM
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My experience with a TA has been a good one. The first travel agent my wife and I used actually called us out of the blue one day after we had booked our cruise and told us that she was giving us some money back because the cruise line had discounted some prices! Unfortunately she is no longer in business as she was getting up there in years. Our new travel agent has been very helpful. My wife has bugged her about alot of things and she has done them without question. Royal Caribbean was trying to make us pay a fee for changing our flights, which was their mistake in the first place, and she made it all right for us.
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 11-18-2007, 01:18 PM
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I wish more people would realize that by using their local businesses they help their local economy.
  #24 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2007, 08:10 AM
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I think I saw in another forum, can't remember which, this same topic. They were all comparing booking with a TA because they expected an on-board-credit for their booking. One even said if the agent did not give them, then he would not book with them.
I agree with all of you. When was the last time your local grocery store or WalMart, or furniture store, or clothing store. etc. gave you an in-store-credit everytime you book with them. If an agent gets 10%(?)of the base rate of a cruise that cost $800.00. How can that agent afford to give back part of her/his whopping $80.00 before expenses. Out of that $80.00 comes her salary, utilities, office expenses, etc. She may be left with a net profit of about $15.00, maybe. Do the math. I am figuring this on your local, small-town, store front agency. The big guys may be quite different, I do not know. But supporting your local businesses if a plus for everyone, or you may see more and more empty store fronts in your local town.
Just my opinion.

kathycruiser
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2007, 02:35 PM
 
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I have a slightly different take on the TA question. We generally book about 70 - 80 days of cruises per year (4 or 5 longer cruises) and over the years have been on 11 cruise lines and more than 50 different ships to 6 continents. We have developed a "short list" of 4 TAs (my list does change depending on new info) who are all larger cruise agencies. We buy our cruises simply based on price! For us, we have found the service to be pretty uniform across the industry and our TAs are essentially order takers (we tell them which cruise, which cabin or category and they book). We always compare the prices of several of our TAs against the cruise line sites (the cruise line sites are always higher) and will often save over a $1000 per cruise by shopping. When we are on cruises we often meet other frequent cruisers and we share "note" about the best TAs. We currently have 4 cruises under booking for the next 8 months (71 days) and they are booked through 3 different TAs. The other important thing is to continuously monitor prices after you book as this can sometimes save you lots of money if there are price decreases. Of our 4 current cruises, 2 of them have been rebooked multiple times (a RCI cruise and a Azamara cruise).

Hank
  #26 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2007, 05:43 PM
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We buy our cruises simply based on price! For us, we have found the service to be pretty uniform across the industry and our TAs are essentially order takers (we tell them which cruise, which cabin or category and they book).

That's okay advice for someone who knows the cruise industry, ships and other things. Personal service may make a big difference for clients with lesser knowledge of the industry. Your agents are order takers because that's all you need from an agent. There are many who are ONLY order takers and if a client needs direction or advice or just general information may be out of luck if they were to adopt your system for themselves. Not having great service because you simply don't need it is one thing. Needing it and not having it available is something entirely different. For a select few clients I am nothing more than an order taker myself. They have found in a cruiseline(s) what they like and shop simply for which ship or itinerary they want and call just to book it or shop it as well. Hank, you are among a very fortunate few in being this informed and prepared. Also for those who I know will have no loyalty if another service bought a block I don't happen to have to get a $50. pp onboard credit I have very little incentive to offer such amenities up front. They are the same clients who will have me change their sailing 3 times over such minor amenities, chasing promotions after booking. Just as an FYI, that means 6 times the work for your agent as each booking and then cancellation is double work. 3 bookings = 6 times the work to keep you happy with your ever-changing promotion/lowest price request.

Hank, please don't think I'm including you in my little rant from here. This portion refers to a very minor segment of the booking population. Some clients will request or demand a price match even after they have booked and such changes often can't be done by the cruiseline rules for any agency. That puts the booking agency and agent personally in a position to have to either have an angry client who may never book in the future if they don't get such a match or the agent and agency having to come out of pocket to appease the client. I have had to pay from my own pocket more than the earnings on a booking in the past. If I refuse (I do support my family from earnings, not losses) they can often go over my head and get it done without my consent. In such cases, I lose, not only the earnings but also customer satisfaction ratings that relate to bonuses and job security.

There is a difference between wise shopping and taking advantage of the system. Repeat clients are how businesses grow. Many agencies see a loss on an individual sailing to keep a long term client happy the cost of doing business. I agree with that philosophy for loyal clients who feel they're being unfairly treated occasionally. For those who consistantly manipulate such generous policies at thier agents expense I have no such sympathy. If the cruiselines rules allow the lowered pricing for existing bookings by all means, have your agent adjust it for you. If they don't allow it, you should not expect for your agent to supplement your vacation. The fact that weeks or months later, you see a lower price on a competitors site (or the same site for that matter) does not mean you're entitled to that lower rate. The cruiselines often have rules, an asterisk stating "*For New Bookings Only" is a big tip off. Some lines don't allow the rate adjusted after the penalty period. That bad news is not coming from your agent, it's coming from the cruiseline. Whoever your agent is, be kind. Simply call the cruiseline direct and verify if you have concerns.

Cheers, Neil
  #27 (permalink)  
Old 11-27-2007, 07:51 AM
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Is there any website that "rates" TAs in our area?

We have used a PVP for years (and that is fine as long as we are cruising Carnival). The downside to a PVP (as wonderful as he is) is that he is limited to Carnival.

But now that we are looking to branch out, we need a TA that I can work with for overseas trips.

Dave: I will look for those "initials" you posted ... THANKS!!!
  #28 (permalink)  
Old 11-27-2007, 08:08 AM
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LHP,
Since it's always better to deal with someone who has "been there, done it", you might consider sending a "private topic" email to some of the "gurus" on this board as they are obviously "in the business". I'm sure they won't steer you in the wrong direction. Remember you don't need a TA in your backyard. TAs can be just as effective for you on the other side of the country.

Good luck "branching out". Cruise lines do not come in one size fits all.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 11-27-2007, 12:47 PM
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Originally posted by ChucksOK:
LHP,
Since it's always better to deal with someone who has "been there, done it", you might consider sending a "private topic" email to some of the "gurus" on this board as they are obviously "in the business". I'm sure they won't steer you in the wrong direction. Remember you don't need a TA in your backyard. TAs can be just as effective for you on the other side of the country.

Good luck "branching out". Cruise lines do not come in one size fits all.


Thank ChucksOK, will do!!

We used to use a wonderful lady years ago, but she retired.

I specifically need someone who is "well versed" in Princess Cruise lines and their air add on. I am trying to talk hubby into the June 7 British Isles cruise.
  #30 (permalink)  
Old 11-27-2007, 02:42 PM
 
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I am not a TA, but can sure speak to using Princess and their air. You should price the cruise and also get a price for Princess air (with transfers). Than, check the on-line prices for the air (doing it yourself) and compare! Keep in mind that transfers can be a hassle in England since the ports are located quite a distance from London. Another option with Princess is to use their custom air department which gives you options on choosing your own flights (you do have to pay the difference). We do a lot of European cruising (leaving tomorrow to catch the Brilliance of the Seas in Barcelona) and often find better deals doing our own air (this is true for tomorrow's trip where we got a great price from Aer Lingus). But, I can emphasize to much the transfer issue (particularly if you are new to Europe). Princess often uses Southampton which is accessible via the train from London, but that can be a hassle when you have lots of luggage.

Hank
 
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