Remember the days when every city and town had several Travel Agencies to choose from? You used to make an appointment or stop by an agency, pick up brochures, learn more about the destinations you were thinking of going to? Well, in the USA Travel Agents (leisure ones at least) are a dying breed. Many of the "brick and mortar" agencies have closed up shop.
It all started in 1997 when Delta airlines cut and capped commissions to travel agents. Then all the others did it too. Then they eliminated commissions all together. YOU the consumer was used to not paying for the services of a Travel Agent, it was ALWAYS built into the cost in the form of commissions. Some people thought if they went direct to the airline they would save this cost.....not true, it just increased the profit margin to the airline...you paid the same price. SO, when Travel Agents began to charge fees to clients they rejected it.
Now honestly...think about it. You pay an Attorney, and Accountant, A Doctor and many more for their professional knowledge why not a Travel Agent?? You could get a book to tell you how to remove your friends Appendix but would you actually want to do it yourself and make a mistake???
I can remember when I worked for Mrs. Patricia Persson (The most incredible boss EVER) at AVENUES OF TRAVEL in Winter Park Florida. We had 5 Travel Agencies within a 4 block radius. Now, there are none. As commissions were cut out and lowered the cost of operating an Agency grew to be too much and many have closed their doors.
I have people tell me, "well, I just research hotels on the net and pick one." And who do you think rights the information you are receiving?? Answer: The Hotel. Do you honestly think they are going to tell you that they are a dump, the pool water is green, their restaurant was closed by the health department, and they have the rudest most under trained staff in town?!?!?
Travel agents used to visit popular locals and check out hotels on "FAM Trips". While was in Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon on one of these trips I toured 36 hotels personally in 1 week. They also had knowledge from clients who had been somewhere they didn't.
There used to be an old Ad that said "Without a Travel Agent, Your on your own." and this is so true.
Points for researching Travel:
1.Check for sites that give unbiased reviews (Like this one, Tripadvisor.com, cruisecritic.com, etc...)
2. When looking at photos pay attention to the people in the photos (Clothing styles and hairdos will tell you how old the photo is)
3. ALWAYS,ALWAYS,ALWAYS PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD!!!! If something goes too badly you can always dispute it.
4. NEVER EVER Use a travel site that makes you PRE-PAY (unless it is a package). There are some that will make you pre-pay for just a car rental or just a hotel. DON'T DO IT!!!!
5. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING! If you are going to Puerta Vallarta and want to spend a lot of time at the beach ASK how close they are to the beach.
6.Know the travel jargon!! (See my next post)
7. Don't be afraid to demand what you were promised or you are entitled too. It is not rude.
8. When a Supplier TELLS you something that is not in print..ASK FOR IT IN WRITING!! Even an email saying it. At least then when you say "But they told me...." you have back up.
Up Next: TRAVEL JARGON...