Los Angeles travel agents discuss trip planning
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "We do a lot of legwork for them. If something happens, they have somebody to back them up and resolve their matter."
Who we talked to
Aurora Lee-Nelson, owner
Arb Travel Tours
3440 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 609
Tony Banos, owner
Brazil Air Travel
10700 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 15
Andrea Maffitte, owner
Andrea's Travel Inc.
612 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Ste. 9
Tony Banos: "We can do everything for them. We have a broad spectrum of choices, and our experience helps them pick the best vacation."
Andrea Maffitte: "It's not as complex as online. There are many problems booking online and it's time-consuming to fix them."
How do you charge?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "Our service is free to our clients. We receive a commission from the packages we sell."
Tony Banos: "It depends. Some of the suppliers pay us a commission. For other packages, we need to charge fees. The fees are typically between $35 and $150."
Andrea Maffitte: "We get commissions from the cruises and packages. We do have airline booking fees. For international, it's $50, and for domestic, it's $25."
How far in advance should people plan trips?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "They can call us the day before; it's finding space that could be a problem. A few months is a great idea."
Tony Banos: "As soon as they have an idea on where they want to go. It can save them money."
Andrea Maffitte: "For a full package trip, like a long cruise, I'd say at least two or three months."
Do you have a region or country you specialize in? If so, where?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "We mainly specialize in Asia and South Pacific."
Tony Banos: "Yes. South America and Brazil."
Andrea Maffitte: "In general, South America."
How far in advance do people need to get their passport?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "Six months. You can have them expedited, though."
Tony Banos: "Several months before, but they should have one anyway."
Andrea Maffitte: "Two or three months in advance."
What's the one travel tip you always give customers?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "Make sure the passport name reflects the name on your airline reservations."
Tony Banos: "Don't flash cash, and keep a low profile."
Andrea Maffitte: "Before you arrange your trip, make sure your passport is valid and make a copy."
Do you recommend customers get trip insurance?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "I do - airline tickets are non-refundable."
Tony Banos: "Yes, if they have reservations about the trip. It can come in handy."
Andrea Maffitte: "Most of the time I do. It's good for expensive trips."
What's one place you recommend everyone should visit and why?
Aurora Lee-Nelson: "I'm partial to Switzerland - it's nice."
Tony Banos: "Everybody should see Rio once in their lifetime - it's gloriously beautiful."
Andrea Maffitte: "It depends on the person. There's something for everybody on each continent."