One of the most frequent comments we receive when we tell people we own a Travel Agency is, “I didn’t think Travel Agents still existed. How do you compete against the internet?”
Well, the answer is, quite simply, we DON’T compete against the Internet. The internet has a ton of Online Travel Agencies where you can go and book anything from a flight, rental car, cruise or packaged tour; and you can book directly with most vacation operators.
The people that man the phones for these companies are Travel Agents. They are order takers, plain and simple. You tell them what you want and they put the reservation in the system and take your credit card information. For most it’s a 9-5 job and they don’t necessarily travel themselves or have any real experience with the trips they are booking for you, although most are well versed in what they sell. The internet is full of Travel Agents.
We are Travel Consultants. Much of our time is spent researching, traveling and learning about the places that we send you and the products that we book. Another large portion of our time is spent creating relationships with other Travel Consultants and companies to help expand our knowledge through their experiences and we often have on-the-ground-support so we have a “guy” that knows the answers you need if we don’t.
Our job is to help advise you through our own experience, education and relationships to connect you to the vacation of your dreams. We don’t book just any vacations, we ask questions: What experiences are you looking to have? Why that destination? Are you really into the food, the culture, the history, the art, the architecture of a place? Or do you just need to relax, get away and unplug? Do you want to go hiking, biking, ziplining, exploring or are you just looking for a great beach and a resort with pampering service?
We also give you information you may not even think you need to know: Can we carry our laptops on the plane? What’s the easiest way to get from X to Y? Is a Visa required for visiting XYZ country? We book vacations every day, while most people only book them once a year. We simply have more information because it’s what we do.
We are an independent agency, so we don’t answer to any particular brand of vacation. We don’t have sales quotas to meet or anyone that tells us we have to sell more of XYZ. We work for YOU and we treat your vacation with as much care and attention to detail as we do with our own personal vacations.
We do all of this because we’re passionate about helping people to travel well and connecting them with their dream vacation! But we are a BUSINESS and we do all of this in order to make a living. And that’s another distinction between a Travel Agent and a Travel Consultant. We charge fees for our advice and expertise, and that’s EXACTLY why we still exist and don’t compete with the internet.
If you are comfortable researching and booking your vacations online, you may not need our services. You can use the Online Travel Agencies or the reservation agents that work for the vacation companies and have a fine experience.
We are here for you if you want a more personalized experience or you don’t have time to research your vacation or you get overwhelmed with the amount of information on the internet. We work to help you narrow down what you REALLY want out of your vacation and what might be a great match. We advise you about the difference between cruise lines, resorts, areas of a destination, room or cabin types and services that can be pre-booked. We can help with transportation, both getting to the destination and traveling from place to place. We put together full customized packages that include everything you might want to experience while you’re there.
However, we cannot do all of this work for free. We do get paid commission on some parts of travel bookings, but the number of suppliers that don’t pay commission or pay less and less commission is growing every year. And we’re working harder and harder to stay on top of all the current information for you, to help make your vacation the best it can be.
We have been charging to book airline tickets since we opened ten years ago because the airlines don’t pay any commission. We’ve been charging after we do the research and make the booking, but we can’t do that anymore. Too many people want our advice and expertise on the best flights at the best prices and then take that information and book the flights themselves online. Now we’ve done our work and get no compensation. We can’t afford to do that.
We don’t charged a fee for people who book packaged vacations or cruises, because we do get paid commission on those vacations. However, again, too many people are asking for our assistance and then booking themselves online or deciding they didn’t really want that particular vacation after all. Again, we’ve put in the time and done all the work and not gotten paid at all.
We have been charging Consulting Fees for customized itineraries, but were not collecting them at final payment. Some clients sadly have had to cancel their vacations, but now after doing all the work booking and canceling the vacation, we got paid nothing. To compensate for the time spent, even if our clients cannot go on their trip, we need this fee upfront.
After reevaluating how we spend our time and how we get paid, we have made the decision to change our fee policy and have listed the changes below:
Our Updated Fee Policy
- First Consultation – ALWAYS complimentary. We are happy to discuss your vacation needs and determine together if working with us is the right fit. Fees will be discussed and determined at this meeting to the agreement of both the client and the consultant.
- Airline Ticketing Fee – $75/ticket – Due upfront as a Credit Card Guarantee with signed Credit Card Authorization form BEFORE quotes will be researched and sent. Fee can be paid after ticketing via check for the reduced amount of $50/ticket or charged to credit card at $75/ticket.
- Packaged Vacations – $100 Consulting Fee – Due upfront as a Credit Card Guarantee with signed Credit Card Authorization form BEFORE quotes will be researched and sent. If client books packaged vacation (ie. cruise, all-inclusive resort w/air, escorted tour), the $100 is NOT charged, but put towards vacation cost. If client opts not to book or books on own, we charge the $100 fee and retain it to cover our time and expertise for information given to client.
- Customized Vacations – $150 – $500. This Consulting Fee is on a sliding scale and will be determined during first consultation, based on number of travelers and client’s requests. Fee is to be paid upfront via check or credit card, as is convenient for the client.
We want to be clear that we are not OVERCHARGING or trying to make more money with these changes. We are simply trying to get paid fairly for the time and expertise that you come to us for. You have many options when it comes to booking your vacation and we want to work with you. We value your business, we hope your value our expertise and service in return.
If you have questions or need further clarification, please email me directly. I’m happy to discuss these changes with you.