Boston travel agents give tips on booking vacations
Who we talked to
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Atsuko Lewis: "Our services are much better than the Internet. If your flight is canceled, we can help you find another flight."
Diane Macedo: "We have the experience of visiting many places, plus we can look into all outlets available. We shop for the best price."
Pearl Lang: "An agent can look up all the information, and we have visited the destinations. If you have travel issues, we can help."
How do you charge?
"If it's a domestic flight, we charge $25. There's a fee for some international flights, but we have contracts with other suppliers in Asia so there's no fee."
"If it's a package, like a cruise or Disney trip for instance, we're paid by the supplier. If it's just airline tickets, we have fees depending on the trip."
"If it's airline tickets, there's a service fee depending on the trip. Vendors pay us for booking tours, and we don't charge customers a fee."
How far in advance should people plan trips?
"We need a day or two on airfare. During busy travel seasons, we recommend six months out."
"Average is six to eight months. For holidays, it's a year in advance."
"On average, it's five months in advance. If it's a holiday season, eight months in advance."
What places do you specialize in?
"We have a lot of international experience and specialize in Asia."
"Our top three specialties are Disney, Hawaii and Sandals resorts."
"We're specialists for places like Israel, Costa Rica, the Caribbean and Hawaii."
How far in advance do people need to get their passport?
"My recommendation is six to seven months."
"It's taking six to eight weeks."
"A renewal is three weeks. A new passport is two months."
What's one place you recommend everyone should visit and why?
"China. They're having the Olympics."
"For international, I would say Lisbon. They have truly merged the new with old."
"I would say Africa or any safari country to get the amazon experience. You see nature and how beautiful it is."
Are more vacationers turning to Internet travel sites instead of agencies? If yes, how are you handling this?
"I think so, but our clients trust us so they'll call and ask us to do comparisons. We may be a little higher, but they come back."
"Actually, we're seeing a resurgence in people using travel agents. People have gotten burned by Internet sites."
"I suppose some people are, but there's still a lot who want to talk to an agent to get personal guidance."