Use What You Are Already Paying For… A Professional Travel Agent
Would you ever buy a product in a store and leave part of it behind and unused or throw away essential components in the trash?
Would you go grocery shopping, pay the bill, and then leave a few of the bags in the parking lot?
Of course, you wouldn’t.
So why are you doing that with your travel and vacation reservations?
If you are not using a professional travel agent like me to help you make arrangements or book yourself directly or online, you are doing exactly that.
Every cruise rate, every hotel booking, every trip to an all inclusive resort has a built-in provision by the vendor in it to cover travel agent assistance and marketing… which you pay whether or not you use a travel agent to book your trip.
What? Did you think that people who book thru an agent pay a higher rate than those who do it online?
Nope. Not for the cruise itself or the reservations themselves.
Built-In Personalization Is Already Paid For
Most travel providers can’t maintain a large enough staff to handle the magnitude of requests and bookings so they “outsource” to travel agents and pay them to handle a large portion of customer needs. They build that into the pricing of their products and whether or not you use an agent to help you… you are still paying for that assistance.
You might think, “well, if I don’t use an agent the travel provider will give me a lower rate.” Nope. They just distribute their costs thru their own employees and office expenses and since guests who don’t use agents tend to call into the cruise lines more often than those who do, they justify keeping the rates the same.
The thing is, when you speak with a customer service clerk from a vendor you only get one line of assistance, the most profitable one for the cruise line or travel provider.
They’re not going to guide you to a better option as a travel agent like me will.
In fact, agents very often have access and knowledge about promotional rates or have built in bonuses (like on board credit) that are even better than what a consumer will find on that travel provider’s website or from their customer service rep.
Recently, I had a guest contact me to book them a Viking Ocean trip. They knew what cabin they wanted, they knew the published rate, and they wanted my guidance and assistance on a few destination topics so they asked if I could book them.
“Of course I can,” I told them.
After a short Zoom call to get a little more background on the guest I contacted my VIP desk at Viking, booked the guest and sent them their confirmation.
About an hour later I got a call…
”Dave, what happened here? We just got our confirmation. What did you do?”
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“Well, this is cheaper than the rate we saw and we see $300 per person on board credit listed on our invoice. How did you do that?” they asked.
Quite simple actually.
First, I knew some codes which the guest was unaware of that brought down their rate below the published fare that they’d seen.
Second, as I am now part of a travel agency consortium called Oasis in the Signature Travel Network I had access to even more codes that allowed me to gift them onboard credit to use for tours, tips, spas, or whatever they liked.
Not only that, Viking pays me to help these guests throughout their booking as a built-in part of the fare.
Had the guest not called me, they would have paid more, not gotten professional assistance for the duration of their trip, and also not benefited from my membership in Oasis and Signature.
Now, do some travel agents have some side fees if they do additional work for their guests? Sure, some do.
I, personally, have a two tiered system whereas my guests who know what they want and simply want me to book them and give them essential guidance get my services 100% free. The cruise line or hotel line pays me for helping them.
Guests who want me to design a trip for them, customize things and basically do a good deal of research and organizing for them pay a flat $200 fee for my Royal Treatment service. (Guests with 5 or more cruises with me get that Royal Treatment for free as part of my Royal Court Loyalty Program)… but considering how much I save my guests and maximize their travel budget beyond what they could do themselves, that $200 is a drop in the bucket to their overall experience and worth every penny.
Are you already booked on a cruise and don’t have an agent? Cruise lines will let you turn the booking over if you are outside of final payment or the booking is less than 90 days old.
Travel agents like me add so much value to your vacation… why wouldn’t you use me since you’re already paying for me anyway?