Woman’s Day: Why they are Wrong about Travel Agents.

When Woman’s Day Magazine recently chose to publish an article depicting travel agents in a less-than-stellar light, they could not have predicted the backlash the travel professional community would unleash upon them.  In my own defense of this article, I wanted to write a post with yet another reason why it is in the consumer’s best interest to book their travel with a travel agent.

Recently, a client called me saying she and some friends wanted to get away over the 4th of July holiday.  She gave me a budget and said that basically the only requirement was they wanted to go to the beach somewhere.  There was one main hang up:  They would be leaving in a week!

After much discussion and sleeping on it that night, she finally decided booking two ocean-view cabins on a cruise and driving to the port would probably fit their budget the best.  I then set out in search of the best cruise for them.

They had planned to sail from New Orleans to make their drive as short as possible.  The only problem was the only cruise I could find for them sold out before I could get their cabins booked for them.  The next best cruise was from Port Canaveral, and when I called her to give her the quote she was ready to get it booked so we didn’t lose these cabins.  I made sure she knew it was in the penalty phase and that once booked they could not be cancelled.  She wanted to put both cabins on her credit card and her friends were going to pay her back.  (What a friend!)  So I got them all booked and they were good to go.

Later that evening, she called saying she didn’t know what to do because her friends were backing out on her.  They had decided that the drive to Port Canaveral was not their idea of how to start off a relaxing vacation.  I reminded her that the ship was sailing in less than a week at that point and cancelling would result in forfeiting the cruise fare.  I also suggested trying to find anybody else that might want to go in their place, but alas she could not and asked if I would call the cruise line to see if there was anything they could do.

Feeling like it was a hopeless endeavor, I again went to work for my client and called the cruise line. I spoke with a lovely young lady, explaining to her my client’s situation and asked if anything at all could be done.  She said because my host agency is in good standing with the cruise line and we book a lot of cruises with them she would be willing to work with me so we could both make the client happy.  She gave my client a few other options such as trying to move the sailing to a better date or closer port and looking to see if she could get them a good deal on air, but in the end my client just wanted to cancel the bookings all together.

I was shocked when the cruise line agent said if there wasn’t anything else she could do to keep the booking and keep the client happy she would refund the full amount of both cabins since it had just recently been booked and was booked through me.  Wow!  My client was so happy and relieved when I gave her the news.  She ended up booking a trip that all of her friends were happy with and wasn’t out the money from the cruise.

Now if I was the type of agent that was described in that Woman’s Day Magazine article I would not have been willing to work with the client the way I did.  I would have made much more commission from the cruise than I did on the trip my client ended up booking.  But you see that is not why I do this job.  Of course I want to get paid for my efforts, but the real reward is in sharing my love of travel with all of my clients and hearing their pure joy when they describe the trip they’ve taken that I booked for them.  That is when I know I have done my job well.

This client got lucky because she booked her trip through an agent.  Had she booked this on her own, I doubt very seriously that she would have had the same pleasant conversation with the cruise agent that I had.  This kind of relationship and reputation with the suppliers is just one more reason to add to the list of why it is better to book your travel with an agent.

Have you read the Woman’s Day Magazine article?  What did you think?

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