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Fartlek

Why use a Travel Agent?

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For all our cruises, flights, hotels, we have always booked online.  I do know a lot of people still use travel agents and I see lots of travel agency companies but I'm not sure why.  There must be a reason so what am I missing?

 

Thanks

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1 minute ago, Fartlek said:

For all our cruises, flights, hotels, we have always booked online.  I do know a lot of people still use travel agents and I see lots of travel agency companies but I'm not sure why.  There must be a reason so what am I missing?

 

Thanks

Some Travel Agencies give additional OBC or offer extras like free insurance. Other may be first time cruisers who rely on a professional to guide them to the right cruise line and itinerary. I always book directly. 

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8 minutes ago, Fartlek said:

For all our cruises, flights, hotels, we have always booked online.  I do know a lot of people still use travel agents and I see lots of travel agency companies but I'm not sure why.  There must be a reason so what am I missing?

 

Thanks

My wife and I have used a TA on every cruise except one, and it has always payed off. We just booked a Spa Mini Suite on the Escape in October to Bermuda. The TA saved us $390 and gave us $100 OBC Vs booking directly with NCL with the same cabin

Edited by Laszlo

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I had no idea that you could save $$ by booking with a Travel Agent.  That seems strange as I had always thought that it would be cheaper to book directly with the supplier.  I usually tried to avoid third party people as it usually costs extra but I will speak with a travel agent next time to see if there are any savings.  

 

I learned something new today.  Thanks

 

 

 

 

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I always get additional OBC with my TA, and normally they also cover the pre-paid gratuities.  Sometimes I'll get a bottle of wine or chocolate covered strawberries.  And the cost is the same - if I booked through the cruise online (or call) it is the same price that I pay my TA.

 

Side note - I don't buy travel insurance through a cruise line either, I get it from the TA.  It normally covers more and gives more flexibility. 

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I don't think I've ever saved money booking with a TA, but they usually throw in some OBC.  When we have booked NCL with American Express Platinum Travel, they've always done OBC and a dinner at LeBistro.

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7 minutes ago, mdsgu said:

I don't think I've ever saved money booking with a TA, but they usually throw in some OBC.  When we have booked NCL with American Express Platinum Travel, they've always done OBC and a dinner at LeBistro.

 

You can also do that through a TA - there is a code the TA can put in when you pay with your AMEX.  My typical cruise includes whatever current perks the cruise line offers (OBC/Dining/Beverages/TaxFree/etc) + TA perks (usually OBC/Grats) + AMEX (OBC and LeBistro - other lines have different perks for AMEX) + Shareholder Benefits.  Typically I have around $800-$1200 of OBC per cruise.

 

For example, for my 7-day June NCL Star cruise coming up (Family Suite) I have $900 OBC ($300 from NCL, $300 from AMEX, $200 TA, $100 Shareholder).

Edited by Stealthdog

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I have used the same local travel agent for many years.  I use him for all of my travels not just cruises.  As a widow, I find it much more comfortable to have him handle-- travel arrangements, flights, ground transportation and hotels.

 

This past Saturday we ran into a problem while trying to book a Norwegian cruise for February.  By 9 A.M. yesterday morning he had it fixed to my advantage.

 

One than once he a has fixed a flight problem before I knew that there was one.

 

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Alright you have me considering a TA for our next cruise but what about Flights and Hotels.  Is there any savings in using a TA for these?

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We always do our own bookings on line, but this time we were invited to go with some friends who asked we all go thru their TA.   She got us booked OK, but I've been filling her in on things.  I told her we were able to book dining and shore excursions now for our June cruise.  She had NO idea.  This is why I don't bother with TA's but went along with our friends on this one.  We didn't get any freebies like others either.

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As a rule of thumb, a travel agent should get you 8-10% of the cruise fare in OBC or other items. My TA allows me the option to get OBC or reduce the fare amount by that much.

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After booking a cruise directly with Norwegian Cruise Lines, you have 30 days to transfer your booking to another Travel Agency. Contact several different Travel Agents, to see if they can add anything extra on to your NCL deal. You may be surprised, because most will be able to sweeten your deal. We have done this several times. NCL will usually be unable to match their better offer. It has to be done within 30 days of the original booking, with NCL though.

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One thing to keep in mind that no one has mentioned. Using a TA does not guarantee you will be able to bid for an upgraded cabin (if that is important to you). Not all TA's and box stores participate in NCL's program

Edited by Laszlo

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1 hour ago, Stealthdog said:

I always get additional OBC with my TA, and normally they also cover the pre-paid gratuities.  Sometimes I'll get a bottle of wine or chocolate covered strawberries.  And the cost is the same - if I booked through the cruise online (or call) it is the same price that I pay my TA.

 

Side note - I don't buy travel insurance through a cruise line either, I get it from the TA.  It normally covers more and gives more flexibility. 

Same with me....my TA is an online TA that specializes in cruises....great OBC and/or gratuities.

I used to use my TA's insurance, but now I shop online and there is one search that provides travel insurance and within their website, they do cruises.  Best insurance prices with all the insurance that is special for a cruise  (medivac, change in itinerary, medical, etc.).

Edited by dongordon

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1 hour ago, Stealthdog said:

I always get additional OBC with my TA, and normally they also cover the pre-paid gratuities.  Sometimes I'll get a bottle of wine or chocolate covered strawberries.  And the cost is the same - if I booked through the cruise online (or call) it is the same price that I pay my TA.

 

Side note - I don't buy travel insurance through a cruise line either, I get it from the TA.  It normally covers more and gives more flexibility. 

 

It can often be better to purchase third party travel insurance if one wants to get that (better terms/coverage/costs than through cruise line or TAs).

 

We use a travel insurance broker, and there is no additional cost (the insurer pays the commission; we'd pay the same directly from the insurer).  But the brokers can explain policies from several different insurers to help you find the policy that best fits *your* needs.

 

We use www.TripInsuranceStore.com - and have had good experiences with policies through them from Travel Insured.  This includes actual claims paid, which is the important part.

 

Here is a link to the Travel Insurance section of CC:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/499-cruisetravel-insurance/

 

GC

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I always use an online TA.

example of most recent Alaska cruise perks offered by my TA.

-$150 OBC

-pre-paid gratuities

-bottle of wine

-box of chocolates

-VIP ammeneties  (some people might enjoy this)

  • Welcome Letter from Hotel Director/Concierge
  • Concierge at your service providing Priority Guest Services
  • Invitation to VIP Cocktail Party with Senior Ship Staff
  • Priority Tender Tickets on tender days (if applicable)
  • Priority Disembarkation on final day (if desired)

 

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We use a TA for several reasons (just for the cruise part usually). The original reason was to support a friend's business, and that is still one reason, but over the years we've had a bunch of things happen that the TA was able to help with and make our lives so much easier! We had a cruise that was cancelled, excursions that needed to be changed, group events to coordinate, price drops/new promos we wanted to take advantage of, etc. All of those were things we could have handled ourselves, but it was so nice that we didn't have to. They also usually send wine and strawberries to our room.

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1 hour ago, Fartlek said:

Alright you have me considering a TA for our next cruise but what about Flights and Hotels.  Is there any savings in using a TA for these?

 

I've been using TA for my cruises recently (and am kicking myself for not doing so on one next spring because I could have gotten ~$400 OBC) but will not for airfare. Became aware of a problem last year when a winter storm cancelled many flights. We overheard airline counter staff turn away folks looking to rebook who had used agencies/ sites, such as Expedia. I hadn't considered that aspect so will continue to book my flights directly from now on. 

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I always use the same TA for all our cruises probably around 70 of them now. Always get perks but a few that stand out was $1,000 check from them after one cruise and $800 on board credit for a cruise next year and on that same cruise we just had a $200 price drop so she took care of that this morning.

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I recieved a free extra perk when I booked through them. They just alerted me to a price drop, after final payment, and were able to get me OBC.

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We used a travel agent for our first two cruises many years ago.  I'm not sure that booking online was even a thing in those days but we didn't get OBC or champagne or anything.  A couple of years ago we booked a Cuban cruise with the short-lived Fathom line and did it online.  A couple of weeks before the cruise I got an email with  a confirmation attached to it and found that we had randomly been updated to the biggest suite on the ship!  Had nothing to do with TA or not but a nice story...

 

Anyway, we are coming up on our first NCL cruise.  As we had 8 people in 4 cabins I thought a TA would be useful.  Didn't end up getting anything we couldn't have gotten for ourselves online.   If a TA provides OBC is that a last minute thing or something discussed up front?  Our TA doesn't interfere with the bidding process for what it's worth.  The one benefit was that when we decided we wanted to buy an upgrade rather than bid on it, she was able to work with NCL to get it done.  My understanding was that if I had contacted NCL about an upgrade they would have simply referred me to the bidding process.

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My first cruise I used a TA that was an acquaintance.  I didn't get any extra deals and I felt a little slighted.  Her specialty was luxury travel (SilverSea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, etc).  She made me feel like she was slumming it booking my cheap little inside cabin on NCL.  My syle is casual.  Before selecting NCL, I told her that my friends and I didn't want to dress up on vacation and have to spend a lot of money on formal clothes that would only be worn once.  Her response was "Well, be prepared to eating room service all week!".   🙄  I thought she would give me advice on excursions and other things to do.  Instead she just directed me to Shoretrips.com to book excursions so she would get a commission off our bookings.  This treatment really turned me off on TA's. 

 

When researching my next cruise, I accidentally got added to a TA mailing list and I got contacted by a TA from another company.  We talked at great length and I explained what happened previously.  He made me feel much more comfortable.  He was able to get our group OBC from both NCL and his company as well as a discount from the cruise price compared to booking directly with NCL. 

Edited by ironcheftoni

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