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Old 04-22-2012, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Earth Wanderer, longing for the stars.
12,408 posts, read 16,815,439 times
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My husband and I are retired and may set our minds to traveling a bit. As we are retired, we would not have the time deadlines that many travelers do.

Do people use travel agents any more?

Agents, I have read, often specialize in specific parts of the globe.

I can see using an agent if they have special relationships with hotels, tour guides, etc, and can get you better prices and service than you could get on your own.

A good agent can book you early on a cruise and then watch to get you bumped up later on, I think.

A good agent can get foriegn tours with guides that speak impeccable English.

How would a person find a guide who has knowledge of many regions of the globe? Does one search for an agency with worldwide coverage and ask for specialists in the area of the globe that interests them at the time?

As you can see, we are new to this.
Any information would be of interest.
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:52 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 55,549,681 times
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A good travel agent is worth their weight in gold, unfortunately there are far more bad than good out there.

The best of the best are true specialists in one or two areas of the globe. Often they charge a fee to you on top of the commissions they get for assisting in planning complex itineraries or travel into lesser known places. This type of travel agent usually has wonderful connections which can open doors to get you into places that many travelers never get to see. They might have connections with a hotel to get you the room with the best view in the house, a restaurant for the perfect table at dinner, a chateau owner for a private tour of a wine cellar, or the curator of a museum who can arrange a private after hours tour. Of course if you are looking for a Priceline type of trip, it would be unrealistic to expect upgrades or perks.

A friend of mine used a well connected travel agent who arranged a tour of Abbey Road Studios (which are not open to the public) and a private tour of the Tower of London which took them into parts of the Tower not typically shown to the public. But he paid a flat fee to the travel agent to put together the entire trip for him based on his interests--he had neither the time nor desire to do the research on his own.

I use one of two travel agents when I cruise (depending on which line and the destination). With one I always book a suite so don't get an upgrade, but there is always an on board credit and a gift in the room from the agent, and she has been able to arrange private bridge tours and other perks.

The other travel agent just got me an upgrade on an upcoming cruise and was able to secure a an upgraded view and free breakfast at my pre-cruise hotel as well as offer very valuable information that I needed for one of our ports of call.

I book my business travel (not complex, airfare, rental car, and hotel rooms) on my own.
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
73,797 posts, read 86,247,773 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldengrain View Post
My husband and I are retired and may set our minds to traveling a bit. As we are retired, we would not have the time deadlines that many travelers do.

Do people use travel agents any more?

Agents, I have read, often specialize in specific parts of the globe.

I can see using an agent if they have special relationships with hotels, tour guides, etc, and can get you better prices and service than you could get on your own.

A good agent can book you early on a cruise and then watch to get you bumped up later on, I think.

A good agent can get foriegn tours with guides that speak impeccable English.

How would a person find a guide who has knowledge of many regions of the globe? Does one search for an agency with worldwide coverage and ask for specialists in the area of the globe that interests them at the time?

As you can see, we are new to this.
Any information would be of interest.
A good agent is worth his/her weight in gold and they are not in the business to get rich, but to help people make good decisions on travel. That being said, too many are nothing but order takers, that is why the business doesn't have the best reputation, like any sales job, some are in it for the wrong reasons.


As for knowing how to find that special agent, the one that specializes in what you are looking for at the time can be challenging.The best place to start is by asking friends, the next is google the net. SImply put in what you are looking for and see what you get.

Some might say go with a major agency like American Express for instance, but that isn't always the best way either. Many of them are still just order takers.

Some may also suggeat you do your own on line research and forget an agent...very bad idea. Remember you are paying the travel agent nothing, his/her commission comes from the venders. The advantage of an agent, like you said, is knowledge plus some will throw in perks, be it a gift certificate, help pay insurance, travel bags, etc. and if a problem arises a agent can be your best friend. No, agents can not solve all problems, but they are nice to have if you need help, not to mention they do the research. I know some people love to do their own research and for those who have the time and some knowledge it is fine, but many, especially those just starting to travel the help of an agent can be worht a lot.

I guess you know how I feel and no, I am not a travel agent.
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:53 PM
 
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Gosh, I've used a travel agent once in maybe the last 20 years? (We were living in Japan, travelling to Thailand via Tawain)

I think it would depend on where you are going ?
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Old 04-23-2012, 04:49 PM
 
4,919 posts, read 20,280,043 times
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Travel Agents are not the people we think of back yonder. There was a timne that atravel agent ewas more like a general family doctor, good at so much but a specialist and none. Today, they are more and more like the specialist who works specific areas, regions, markets and results. The travel agent company the corpoartion uses is geared specifically for fast pace business travel. They provide more than reservations, they provide intel on where you are going.

- The best flight is the one that arrives at 0520 but cost 15% more than the next 8 flights. But those flights arrive at 0700 - 0715 the peek international arrival time which means instead of 5 minutes to clear customs and such, ot will take 30 or more and you also have a bunch of tourist flights arriving which means clueless passenegrs.

- Although airline A is $150 cheaper than airline B, airline B has more leg room and sleeper seats in business and first class. Their meals are robust and larger. They offer X, Y, Z. Without knowing all these details, whic to us are important, we probably would buy on price alone.

- I have been able to call them and they will get a seat on a fully booked flight even though it means bumping some other passenegr. They have the pull and clout that the airlies know they need to treat their clientrs well.

- I have even had they recommend flying into a reliver airport because although its a 50 mile drive to my destination, its quicker to get the checked luggage, the rental cars are on site next to the terminal, its easy in and out of the airport with little traffic, and all the drive is mostly highway coming in from the empty side of town. The main airport is a maze of terminals and walkways, wait and wait for the checked bags. The rental cars are in a central off airport facility, it takes 20 minutes just to navigate out of that lot, your fighting city and surburbia traffic and road cosntruction. yes its only 25 miles but its a hard 25 miles, something the travel agent was able to outline for us to make a educated decission.

Travel agents are like women, there are many to pick from, you don't really need one, not much they can do that you can't do or pay to be done, but when you get a good one, you know her value!
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Earth Wanderer, longing for the stars.
12,408 posts, read 16,815,439 times
Reputation: 8792
I was thinking of just jumping from place to place, going on various tours, as the weather and mood strike us, and not of a predetermined itinerary.

We have places to stay in Scotland and England. I thought from there, maybe Paris on a tour, then a river cruise to the Med. Then to visit Spain on tour followed by a cruise of the Med countries and work our way to India and over to the Far East and then Australia and NZ back to California.

It's just that an experienced person would know which tours have the best guides, when the weather is best in each area, which hotels might have safe drinking water, etc.

Because parasites are a concern, I thought that it would be good to travel with Smithsonian in third world areas.

So, you see, we are scattered all over the place. It would be nice to have one tour company, one number, to help us coordinate and plan.

Of course, this will take some time and we each would want a full medical test before launching.
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:35 AM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
40,186 posts, read 49,409,773 times
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Travel agents, they do all the work, we enjoy all the fun. nmnita said it well.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Ayrsley
4,714 posts, read 8,613,076 times
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I can't remember the last time we've used a travel agent. Nowadays, it is so easy for anyone to go on-line and search / research places, fares, costs, etc. (as well as find reviews of hotels and restaurants) that there really does not seem to be much of a need to pay someone else to do that for you. At least not like there was 15-20 years ago.

We're in the early stages of planning a trip to Tahiti (Moorea / Bora Bora) at some point in the next year or two. From the east coast of the States, its about 24 hours each way, multiple airlines, a possible ferry, hotels, island hopping, etc. We considered possibly contacting a travel agent to help arrange this. But then I spent about an hour on-line and was able to map out flights to and from Papeete, as well as travel between the islands and hotels all on my own.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:41 AM
 
2,382 posts, read 4,627,539 times
Reputation: 3432
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldengrain View Post
I was thinking of just jumping from place to place, going on various tours, as the weather and mood strike us, and not of a predetermined itinerary.

We have places to stay in Scotland and England. I thought from there, maybe Paris on a tour, then a river cruise to the Med. Then to visit Spain on tour followed by a cruise of the Med countries and work our way to India and over to the Far East and then Australia and NZ back to California.

It's just that an experienced person would know which tours have the best guides, when the weather is best in each area, which hotels might have safe drinking water, etc.

Because parasites are a concern, I thought that it would be good to travel with Smithsonian in third world areas.

So, you see, we are scattered all over the place. It would be nice to have one tour company, one number, to help us coordinate and plan.

Of course, this will take some time and we each would want a full medical test before launching.
Wow, sounds like you have some adventures planned. My husband and I travel alot now (his work) and would like to continue to do so once we retire.... lurking on the "retiring on a shoestring support thread" on this board is a great motivator for me to stick wth our budget/savings plan.

Parasites kinda freak me out too. We stick with bottled beverages or hot beverages, for the most part skip salads and fresh fruits and have cooked entrees instead. And carry our own antibiotics just in case...

Re: vaccines - it might be good to get started on those sooner rather than later - some are a multiple course treatment and take awhile to reach maximum benefit.
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Old 04-24-2012, 12:45 PM
Status: "DUMP TRUMP and his lackey, Barr" (set 13 days ago)
 
Location: Eureka CA
8,841 posts, read 11,611,960 times
Reputation: 13610
20 years ago when putting together a ten-country trip including some fairly obscure parts of Norway I definitely used a travel agent. These days the only travel agent I use is, believe it or not, AAA because sometimes, once in a while, they can get better airline fares.
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