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Ann_on_the_road

How you met your luxury TA

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Tell me how you met and fell in love with your TA specialist for luxury cruising. Any stories about why you stick with them also appreciated.

 

My only experiences with TAs have been dismal, mostly through corporate contracts mandated by my employer. Those outfits were abysmal, we never let them book anything without telling them the exact flight numbers, etc.  Then there’s the time a TA sold me “travel insurance” that failed to pay out because she attached it to only a tiny segment of my 3 month trip, clearly did not know her products and couldn’t fix it. 

 

We just finished our first and last mainline cruise. Got a taste for what we liked, abhorred and is possible. First thing we want is a ship an order of magnitude smaller, LOL.  I’d sure like a competent TA to help me next time, but have no idea where to find one in this category and no friends IRL who cruise to ask.  So while CC doesn’t let us talk about “who”, surely how you found your pro is fair game. Give me hope that there’s a match for us, because true luxury would mean not having to do all the upfront work myself. 

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We were lucky enough to be given a personal recommendation from a fellow cruiser on our first cruise - a favour we've now in turn been able to do for many fellow cruisers over the years. I really think that is how successful agencies prosper by recommendations from happy customers 

 

When we spoke the TA (who is located in the US while we are in Australia) to check them out for ourselves we found them to be knowledgeable on the luxury lines as they had sailed on them and had relationships in place both in the lines back offices onshore and with management on the ships. They were also able to offer a generous OBC.

 

We continue to be surprised by the little things they come up with to make our cruising and travels great experiences and we've been lucky enough to sail with them on a couple of occasions

 

I suggest you work out some questions that relate to the things that are important to you that you can ask any TA seeking to look after you

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My first TA was on my brother's recommendation, but I didn't like her much.  Since then, I have been using a TA that I selected sort of at random, after sending email requests to several cruise-heavy or cruise-specific travel agencies in town - the one I selected offered me the best deal in OBC (and is a very high-volume Crystal agency).  Recently I took a recommendation from Stickman and have have booked a very future cruise with his favourite TA.......I hope I don't need her expertise very often (i.e. I hope nothing goes wrong), but the experiences of Stickman and other cruisers I've met who use her have been excellent. 

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We also received a referral from another passenger (10 years ago) for our TA that is one of Regent's top selling TA's.  They give a rebate on your cruise fare and OBC's on many sailings.  This is not a one person shop where you cannot reach anyone if he/she is sick or on vacation.  Every 2-3 years they have a party/get together in either their hometown or Miami with Regent management present.  They are kind, understanding and amazing.

 

 

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So I ran into the one friend I thought might use a TA and she just laughed. She hates to travel, so nope. I suspect I may have to do the legwork myself for our next trip and hope I can get a referral from another passenger if we like the experience. Sub-optimal, but the idea of interviewing random TAs from the Internet sounds unpleasant and time-consuming. Sure would like to tap some OBC though. 

Edited by Ann_on_the_road

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17 minutes ago, Ann_on_the_road said:

Sub-optimal, but the idea of interviewing random TAs from the Internet sounds unpleasant and time-consuming. Sure would like to tap some OBC though. 

 

How about this compromise....

Reluctantly, but so you do get access to OBC for your next cruise, can I suggest you do find a TA off the internet who offers OBC for your first trip (there's plenty out there) and then when onboard have a chat to new friends you meet about how they use

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We actually found out about our high-performing Regent agent here on CC, when agents could actually hang out here (although not to solicit business.)  That was 15 years ago, ha ha.  And we're still using this agency.  But the best way sometimes can be a personal recommendation from others *while cruising*.  Then again, you can talk opening elsewhere on social media which will remain unnamed.

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On 9/24/2019 at 9:24 PM, Ann_on_the_road said:

So I ran into the one friend I thought might use a TA and she just laughed. She hates to travel, so nope. I suspect I may have to do the legwork myself for our next trip and hope I can get a referral from another passenger if we like the experience. Sub-optimal, but the idea of interviewing random TAs from the Internet sounds unpleasant and time-consuming. Sure would like to tap some OBC though. 

For your next cruise keep asking people you know; neighbors, work colleagues, relatives and friends who cruise if they have a TA and if they do ask if they would recommend them.  I would start there before going pot-luck.

 

Going forward as you cruise ask people if they have a TA that they are happy about.  Try to come up with a handful of TA's including contact information.

 

For your next cruise write to each of them.  Send them the particulars of the cruise and ask what amenities they would offer.  Also ask them all the same set of questions; how long in the business, what types of lines they specialize in (if you want luxury lines I recommend finding a TA who specializes in them), how they differentiate themselves from other TA's, and a few other questions along these lines.  This in itself will give you a feel of their responsiveness as to how the level of effort they put into this and their timeliness.  Set up a phone call with those whose answers you felt fit what you were looking for.  Yes this is sort of like a phone interview to see how you click with them.  To me it's important to see if you click with the TA.  We all have different personalities and requirements so while one person might love their TA it might be the wrong fit for someone else. Sort of like most things in life.  Even cruise lines.  😀

 

I've been booking cruises for 35+ years.  We didn't' find that perfect TA the first time around but overtime we keep finding TA's that were a step up from the previous one and several years ago found our current one who we think is wonderful along with her support team.  By the way this is a question I recommend which is how does the TA operated when they are out of pocket/away from the office or wherever they work.  Do they have an assistant.  If not who fills in for them?  You don't want to be left hanging. Another question is in addition to the actual cruise do they do other things; help with tours, hotels, flights, etc and what benefits do they bring to the table. (Eg., some TA's are part of agencies that provide additional perks at hotels).

 

My point is it might take time to find the TA that you are pleased with.  You might find one the first time around or you might find one after trying out other TA's.

 

Good luck with this.

 

Keith

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About  10 years ago we left the full-service TA and found the one that gives us the biggest discount. We’re very happy with her because I do all the legwork tell her what I want and she takes care of it. When we return home we have a lovely surprise of a big check waiting for us.  I  found her on the website of the agency. If you were willing to do your own research it’s the way to go. If you want your handheld it is not the way to go.

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