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Travel agents
Old 08-05-2022, 02:02 AM   #1
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Travel agents

For many years I have booked my own flights/stays/rentals directly with providers and have no problem doing so going forward in most cases.

But about 20 years ago I traveled a lot for business. My boss hooked me up with a travel agent he had worked with for years. He was ex-whitehouse and ex-c-suite at Boeing, Lockheed, and a few other aerospace companies. The agent was very good and very affordable (~$35 a trip) and usually save me a lot. When I had issues she was a call away and fixed things quickly. I was able to use her for personal travel as well.

She is retired now. And I know we are in a post travel agent world. But does anyone have a great travel agent or agency to recommend?
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Old 08-05-2022, 08:50 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by SecondAttempt View Post
For many years I have booked my own flights/stays/rentals directly with providers and have no problem doing so going forward in most cases.

But about 20 years ago I traveled a lot for business. My boss hooked me up with a travel agent he had worked with for years. He was ex-whitehouse and ex-c-suite at Boeing, Lockheed, and a few other aerospace companies. The agent was very good and very affordable (~$35 a trip) and usually save me a lot. When I had issues she was a call away and fixed things quickly. I was able to use her for personal travel as well.

She is retired now. And I know we are in a post travel agent world. But does anyone have a great travel agent or agency to recommend?
I guess I didn't know they still existed. Our last one (15 years ago?) almost got us on the no-fly list with her advice - long story. I'd prefer going through a travel agent, but in addition to the cost, I might as well be responsible for my own travel because, when all is said and done, I AM responsible for it. YMMV
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Old 08-05-2022, 09:06 AM   #3
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To me, a great travel arranger is one located in my destination country. Or, sometimes, going direct to the tour operator.

US arrangers need to eat, of course, so they mark up whatever they sell and being many time zones away from the destination, cannot be much help if there are problems. All they do is to hire a local arranger anyway.

With local agencies you skip the US markup and have someone available to deal with any problems. Going direct to operators also saves a markup and provides a path to price negotiations. We saved 40% or more going direct in the Galapagos in 2010 when everyone was scrambling for business.
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Old 08-05-2022, 12:07 PM   #4
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For many years I have booked my own flights/stays/rentals directly with providers and have no problem doing so going forward in most cases.

But about 20 years ago I traveled a lot for business. My boss hooked me up with a travel agent he had worked with for years. He was ex-whitehouse and ex-c-suite at Boeing, Lockheed, and a few other aerospace companies. The agent was very good and very affordable (~$35 a trip) and usually save me a lot. When I had issues she was a call away and fixed things quickly. I was able to use her for personal travel as well.

She is retired now. And I know we are in a post travel agent world. But does anyone have a great travel agent or agency to recommend?
We have exactly the same challenge. For the past several years we have only been using a TA for cruises. We do all of our other arrangements.

One thing we have been doing is dealing with travel firms and vendor in other countries. Sometimes because the service and info is much better, often times because the price is more attractive.

We hooked up with a South African based safari firm and arranged a safari and other travel. Used email, facetime, etc.

We booked a 21 day Aus/NZ cruise by calling RCI in Sydney, Australia. Price was 30 percent less than if we had purchased from a US based TA.

Last trip to Mexico we purchased two seperate 5 day last minute AI stays through a UK based travel agent. 20 percent saving over dealing with a US TA or dealing directly with the hotel.

Same for some hotel accommodations in SE Asia and Europe.

It takes some work but I am retired. Pre covid we were doing 2 7-9 week trips per year. We started this when we were planning a 7 month trip right after retiring early.
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Old 08-05-2022, 11:07 PM   #5
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I guess I didn't know they still existed. Our last one (15 years ago?) almost got us on the no-fly list with her advice - long story. I'd prefer going through a travel agent, but in addition to the cost, I might as well be responsible for my own travel because, when all is said and done, I AM responsible for it. YMMV
That's why I called it a "post travel agent" world.

Seriously, this lady was good and knew about all kinds of special fares. We used a "circle Pacific" fare a lot. We had projects in Asia and the company was Australian. A circle Pacific fare had rules I don't remember but it was something like needing a stop in both northern and southern hemisphere and one on each side of the Pacific ocean. It was usually about the same price as round trip to Tokyo from LA. So people would usually have the opportunity to visit the company in Australia for free.

Anyway, I have no idea if these kinds of fares still exist or how to buy them. But as I start planning trips for the first few years of retirement I'd like to find out.

I am perfectly comfortable booking my own travel and can get myself out of jams, cancellations, etc. in most cases. But if I can pay someone $35 (probably now at least $50) to have one person to call to take care of everything, I'm happy to pay.

With all the travelers here I guess I'm actually a little surprised no one has mentioned anyone.

Edit: I am also very comfortable using an agent based in another country, although there would be exceptions based on language, rule-of-law, etc. Australia, NZ, Europe, Japan, Canada, South Africa, UK, etc. I would be comfortable with
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Old 08-06-2022, 06:47 AM   #6
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We do have a travel agent in Tampa we sometimes use for cruises. She comes up with competitive rates and often freebies that are not advertised. We do use VacationstoGo.com to research the cruises prior to contacting her, however.

Otherwise, the internet makes arranging for accommodations and transportation so easy. Questions are easily found there.

I often read (on Rick Steves) where large families are attempting to travel internationally. I would suggest groups go through a travel agent as it just puts too much pressure on the planner to move more than 4 people from place to place.

Brownell Travel in Birmingham is one of the really premier travel agencies--especially for luxury travel.
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Old 08-06-2022, 09:36 AM   #7
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Unless a cruise (where it's their responsibility to get me there or reimburse me), I prefer to DIY. Like on land trips where getting there 'eventually' is good enough now that I'm retired.
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Old 08-06-2022, 09:40 AM   #8
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Mostly we DIY for simple trips, but we do have a local, small agency we use for more extensive, or multi-city trips. Our agent works from home, but we have worked with her for years.
I have used Expedia and Priceline in the past, with so-so results and experiences.
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Old 08-06-2022, 09:43 AM   #9
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We hooked up with a South African based safari firm and arranged a safari and other travel. Used email, facetime, etc.
After we arrived in South Africa for a similar adventure, I did have a moment of thinking “I really do hope I was dealing with a reputable agency”.

It worked out great and we have a wonderful experience, but I suppose it could have worked out more problematically.
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