Washington, D.C., area travel agents discuss their work
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Carroll: "When you use travel agents, it's a service. You're going to get a certain level of expertise. When things don't go well, it's nice to have an advocate in your corner."
Who we talked to
Stuart Carroll, owner
Carroll Travel Inc.
201 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. Ste. C9
District of Columbia
Mary Peters, owner
Friendly Travel Inc.
1506-D Belle View Blvd.
Wahlgren: "Usually we have more information at our fingertips. People come to us when they're stumped."
Peters: "For the personal information, expertise and experience."
How do you charge?
Carroll: "We charge for airline tickets, but the exception is if it's part of a package. Then the wholesaler pays us. It always depends on the package."
Wahlgren: "We charge $35 to $50 for domestic flights. If they purchase a package and we make a commission from the vendor, there's no fee."
Peters: "We have a variety of consulting fees and service fees, it just depends on what the customer wants to purchase."
What's the one travel tip you always give customers?
Carroll: "The best advice I give people is to check the work that I do. Double-check our work because we're human and we can make mistakes, too."
Wahlgren: "Be practical when you travel. Be glad that your flight takes off, your luggage arrives and you're not cavity searched at the airport."
Peters: "In your pockets you must put extra patience. Be flexible and have a good sense of humor. It's an experience to travel, not a chore."
What makes your agency better than others?
Carroll: "Our motto: We'll kiss your ass. I don't know if we're better than others, but we really care about our clients and the product."
Wahlgren: "We answer the phones and respond to e-mails. We utilize all the tools that are around to find the best deals."
Peters: "We're very friendly, and very experienced."
What's the worst or funniest travel story you've ever heard from a client?
Carroll: "A client called me from a train in New York. She looked out the window and realized she was going to Baltimore instead of Block Island [R.I]."
Wahlgren: "A client called from the airplane and wanted me to call the pilot to request they save him a chicken dinner. He heard they were about to run out of chicken dinners."
Peters: "A lady wanted to take her dog with her on the plane and I told her it would cost $15 per leg. I meant 'per leg of the trip,' she thought I meant 'per leg of the animal.'"