Los Angeles travel agents discuss trip planning

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."

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." 

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