Travel Agent or not to Travel Agent?

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Nov 7, 2017
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#1
Hello! First time posting here. My wife and I are looking at taking a 12 day Grand Canyon tour through "Go Ahead Tours". We have the option of purchasing airfare and trip insurance through them as well.

It's the trip of a lifetime for us, and we're wondering if we should book through a travel agent so as to have an advocate in case anything goes wrong, or if having another party involved will just muddy the waters in case we have a problem.

Would love to hear from experts and more experienced travelers before we book.

Thanks in advance, Mike & Dorothy
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,782
12,758
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
Never heard of them. Go online and google "complaints about XYZ" company and check the BBB.

It sounds like this is a tour company, NOT a travel agent. You need a travel agent if you want an advocate- the tour company is only going to act in their best interest.

If you want to find a travel agent, go to travelsense.org.
That is an ASTA listing of ASTA agencies and if you book through one of their agencies and something goes wrong and the agency isn't helping, ASTA can give you help.

That's they way you need to research companies. We can't recommend companies but can teach you how to research.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,678
6,667
113
San Francisco
#3
Mike, I definitely think you should use a travel agent. A good agent will take care of problems, sometimes before you even know you have a problem. However, sometimes a travel agent is not as professional as we would like. It would be helpful if you could get a referral from a friend or someone who has an agent they like to work with.

Under no circumstances should you use an online booking agency (Expedia, Travelocity etc) of any kind. They call themselves TAs but really only take your booking and your money and are of little help when issues arise. Wendy Perrin publishes an annual list of agents and their expertise ... you might check her website as well as the sources Neil mentioned.

Generally, you should not be purchasing air and insurance from the tour provider. That is the kind of question a good TA will answer. Good luck, and please let us know what you decide and how the trip goes
 
Nov 7, 2017
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#4
Never heard of them. Go online and google "complaints about XYZ" company and check the BBB.

It sounds like this is a tour company, NOT a travel agent. You need a travel agent if you want an advocate- the tour company is only going to act in their best interest.

If you want to find a travel agent, go to travelsense.org.
That is an ASTA listing of ASTA agencies and if you book through one of their agencies and something goes wrong and the agency isn't helping, ASTA can give you help.

That's they way you need to research companies. We can't recommend companies but can teach you how to research.
This is great...thank you! We will certainly follow up on your advice. Appreciate your time.
 
Nov 7, 2017
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#5
Mike, I definitely think you should use a travel agent. A good agent will take care of problems, sometimes before you even know you have a problem. However, sometimes a travel agent is not as professional as we would like. It would be helpful if you could get a referral from a friend or someone who has an agent they like to work with.

Under no circumstances should you use an online booking agency (Expedia, Travelocity etc) of any kind. They call themselves TAs but really only take your booking and your money and are of little help when issues arise. Wendy Perrin publishes an annual list of agents and their expertise ... you might check her website as well as the sources Neil mentioned.

Generally, you should not be purchasing air and insurance from the tour provider. That is the kind of question a good TA will answer. Good luck, and please let us know what you decide and how the trip goes

Thanks for your insights. You have given us plenty to think about and we appreciate your time & effort! Regards!!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,678
6,667
113
San Francisco
#7
Thanks for your insights. You have given us plenty to think about and we appreciate your time & effort! Regards!!
Mike, I want to clarify my comments on finding a TA. You definitely can work with a TA 'long distance', you don't have to sit down at someone's desk but can receive excellent advice and guidance via the phone and internet. I don't wish you to think that TA meetings have to be face to face. You can work with a TA in NYC if you live in San Francisco ... it's just the boiler-room online booking agencies that need to be avoided. You know, the ones who advertise everywhere all the time.

As an example, I haven't met my colleague " Neil", but I wouldn't hesitate to discuss an upcoming trip with him ... such as a week in Costa Rica, a place I know little about. I think there may be a small fee for booking air with a TA, but his expertise would be worth many times that, I'm sure.
 
Nov 7, 2017
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#8
Mike, I want to clarify my comments on finding a TA. You definitely can work with a TA 'long distance', you don't have to sit down at someone's desk but can receive excellent advice and guidance via the phone and internet. I don't wish you to think that TA meetings have to be face to face. You can work with a TA in NYC if you live in San Francisco ... it's just the boiler-room online booking agencies that need to be avoided. You know, the ones who advertise everywhere all the time.

As an example, I haven't met my colleague " Neil", but I wouldn't hesitate to discuss an upcoming trip with him ... such as a week in Costa Rica, a place I know little about. I think there may be a small fee for booking air with a TA, but his expertise would be worth many times that, I'm sure.

Thanks for your continued input. Although my wife and I have traveled in the past, and it was in the pre-internet age we feel like we're "out of practice.

We like the tour itinerary and cost of the operator we found. Online reviews are favorable, too. Our main areas of curiousity (read WORRY) involve purchasing air travel and trip insurance, and if we're better off using a provider other than the operator..

A huge concern on my part is reading about how many airline travelers get bumped, and what we can do if that happens to us. (We are not members of any frequent fliers programs, nor would we know who we would be flying on until the last minute if we book thru the tour operator). How do you catch up to your tour? Who do you call?

These are our concerns, and we welcome any other input you may care to provide. It sounds like you know what you're talking about!!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,782
12,758
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
There is no guarantee of not having issues with air or anything else.

Here is some advice:

Bumping is rare. To reduce your chances of being bumped, do your online check in the night before and get to the airport early. Two hours before a domestic flight, 3 hours for international.

Opt for direct flights and if you need to connect make sure you have at LEAST two hours in between connecting flights.

If you use this supplier never buy their insurance. If they should go belly up, their insurance is worthless. Buy from a third party. If you have pre existing medical conditions make sure you purchase it within the correct time frame to cover them. And maje sure you buy a policy that covers supplier bankruptcy.

I really recommend you use the link I added above to find a travel agent near you that can help you with these things. It sounds like you are not 100% comfortable with all aspects and you would benefit by using someone with expertise. I bet you can find an agent nearby using Travelsense as you can search by state.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#10
A huge concern on my part is reading about how many airline travelers get bumped, and what we can do if that happens to us.
The odds of being involuntarily bumped are vanishingly small. Last year, in the US, approximately 1 in 16,000 passengers was bumped involuntarily.

Put another way, the odds of being involuntarily bumped from on a flight from NYC to LA are only marginally higher than the odds of being killed driving from NYC to LA.

https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/...ansportation_statistics/html/table_01_64.html
 
Likes: Mike Mas.
Nov 7, 2017
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#12
The odds of being involuntarily bumped are vanishingly small. Last year, in the US, approximately 1 in 16,000 passengers was bumped involuntarily.

Put another way, the odds of being involuntarily bumped from on a flight from NYC to LA are only marginally higher than the odds of being killed driving from NYC to LA.

https://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/...ansportation_statistics/html/table_01_64.html
Thanks! In reading the columns about travel problems this topic always seems to be one of the most popular ones, hence my paranoia.
 
Nov 7, 2017
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#15
It's also advisable to fly in to the place where your tour begins at least the day before.
Thank you. Would you suggest we book the lodging and flight through the tour operator to help coordinate transfers and transportation? Appreciate you taking the time to post.