Our last few cruises I booked myself because of an awful experience with the TA I was using. Still not sure if she could have really done anything or not to remedy the situation. She has since retired so I need to find a new one. Any suggestions?
Hi Ally. You can locate a CLIA-certified cruise counsellor by going to the CLIA website and using the search engine on the lower right. (CLIA = Cruise Line International Association.) I recommend those affiliated with CLIA due to their expertise in the industry. Good luck with your search! (Does this mean you're booking soon?)
Thanks everyone. Like I said before, I usually book our cruises directly with the cruise line but I like to use a TA if we have to fly. We normally book next years cruise while onboard.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to live in Miami!
We book a lot of cuises (cruise more than 70 days a year) and finally figured out that there is no reason to have any loyalty to TAs. Most have become simply order takers (not a bad thing) and I have delt with few who have extensive travel experience (we have been onmore than 60 different ships). Over the years we have developed our own short list of 5 on-line TAs (we would add more if needed) and we simply go with whoever has the best price for a particular cruise. We have never (and I emphasize never) seen a price on a cruise line's own web site as cheap as a price offered by some TAs. The pricing often depends on whether the TA has a group booking, is in a consortium that has some kind of special incentive with the cruise line, etc. But, our savings can often run into the thousands of dollars on a single cruise by simply shopping around. As to service, as long as my TAs do their job we are pleased. If they fail to do their job, they can count on losing thousands of dollars in future commissions (a good incentive). One TA recently charged me a $25 fee for rebooking a cruise to obtain us an $800 savings. That TA will never get our business again and I told their owner that they could have their $25, but could also kiss goodbye any future business (and the commissions). Travel is simply a competitive business and keeping that in mind will get you the best prices and generally the best service.
Hank that's quite a post. You start by saying you have no reason to have any loyalty to any T/A. Then go on to later say that one got you $800. in savings for a fee of only $25. And that you read the riot act to that agent and the owner of the agency and would not use them again. I don't know the details of the fee but it sounds like a pretty sweet deal to save $800. for a fee of $25. Loyalty with some agents gets you perks. Some agents go to bat for you when the wheels fall off.
I have paid from my own pocket for upgrades when I had a loyal client get to the ship and discover their cabin was next to a pressure washing engine they use in the middle of the night to clean the outside of sea spray. That made sleeping in the cabin they booked with me unbearable and the cruiseline refused to do anything about the situation. I recently did the same when a cruiseline, without disclosing that their guarantee cabin could be upgraded to a bunkbed for two couples in their 70s and 80s. I don't think I'm the exception to the rule when it comes to providing the service loyal clients expect and going above and beyond when the rare and unexpected happens. I do it, I know of other agents in my office that do it. I'm certain there are many, many agents I don't know with other agencies that do it. Our agency pays thousands weekly to resolve issues that were agent error or in some cases cruiseline error and no fault of the client. The cruiselines don't have the best record of resolving issues, even the ones they create. Most are innocent mistakes by those new to the industry or system but even veteran agents are human and can make errors that should be fixed so as not to inconvenience any client, but for the loyal client it may be that there will be something beyond the fix for their inconvenience and to keep them a loyal client.
Knowing your philosophy about never being loyal to any agent or agency, price is the only factor of any consequence, I'd still take your order as you call it. But as for perks or going above and beyond in such situations I'm not sure you'd appreciate it anyway so I'd try to fix the issue. I would not put your cabin difference for the fix on my Visa or ask the agency to do so. I'd likely get a survey in the end to me and the owner criticizing my performance. I hope you never have a situation that would require an extrordinary agent to resolve. If you ever do I'm not certain they'd be sympathetic to your situation if they read the post above.
The decision on having a dedicated agent as opposed to doing it yourself depends on personal comfort zones, expectations for service, price, and other things.
I value loyalty and therefore have used the same agent for over 10 years. Her prices have typically been in line with other booking options, sometimes less, sometimes maybe a little more. Overall, average. I would never toss her over the side just because I could get the same cruise someplace else for a little cheaper. Why? Because she takes care of me. I don't have to do anything other than provide cabin choice, dining choice, and a credit card number. The prices goes down and she gets the new rate for me. She gets specials for me that have onboard credits. I am not going to ignore that service because Agency X can do the cruise for a hundred bucks cheaper.
Now, if I could get the cruise for $800 cheaper and my agent couldn't match it, she'd be the first to tell me to jump on it and there would be no hard feelings. And I've not booked every cruise with her, because some have been group cruises just like our upcoming cruise-chat cruise. In those instances, I have always let her know about it because that is the right thing to do in what is essentially a long-term business arrangement, and it also shows loyalty works both ways.
Dave I guess that booking air thing has been a little out of my comfort zone. But I keep coming here & am learning alot that I didn't know. It looks as though I will become my own TA after all! Would love to get the 10% as well...