Cleveland travel agents give tips on booking vacations
Who we talked to:
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Debbie Lane: "I guess just having the peace of mind of someone they can talk to. We're a safety net. We travel and see these different destinations and we have the first-hand experience."
Corinne Smith: "In today's unstable market, if you have a travel agent, you have somebody to go to if you have a problem We're here 24/7 for our customers and if they have a problem we can resolve it."
Marilyn Rapczynski: "Basically what a travel agency offers is service, knowledge and responsibility. It's a service that we sell you can't get over the Internet. If they have questions we generally have the answers."
How do you charge?
Lane: "We get a commission from the wholesaler. We do charge a service fee for airline tickets because airlines no longer pay commission, but we don't charge a fee for our tours."
Smith: "If it's a tour or cruise we don't charge. The only people who don't pay us for booking is the airlines, but we're reimbursed from the wholesaler for tours and cruises."
Rapczynski: "We receive commissions from the tour companies. The only time there's a fee is in processing airline tickets."
Do you recommend customers get trip insurance?
Lane: "Yes, I do. Definitely. I'm walking proof of it. It happened to me and I lost all my money. I just say, 'Look at the package price. If you lost all that money would that be significant to you?'"
Smith: "Yes. I recommend it, but I also recommend insurance through a third party. It's safer and it protects the wholesaler too."
Rapczynski: "Absolutely. You can spend $2,000 on a trip, and if you spend another $50 or so and have to cancel you'll get your money back. If you have the opportunity and don't take it, you lose all of it."
Are more vacationers turning to Internet travel sites instead of agencies? If yes, how are you handling this?
Lane: "I find them using the Internet, but more for reference than actually booking. But I think the personal touch and one-on-one is better and people like it. And we don't charge for it."
Smith: "Probably 60 percent of the time we get it cheaper. I think they do it for information services most of the time."
Rapczynski: "Absolutely. Lately, with the tour companies we deal with, we can almost match the prices. And if they have a problem, they have no one to call on the Internet."