Minneapolis travel agents give tips on booking vacations
Who we talked to
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Marsha Boie: "We have a lot of experience. We know the ins and outs of the specific destinations because we've been there."
Jo Freese: "We're cruise consultants. We have a vested interest in making it a good experience for our clients so they come back and repeat their business with us."
Carrie Caldwell: "I have years of experience and special training in the area of travel. This is my job and career."
How do you charge?
Boie: "In general, the suppliers pay us a commission but it's so low we have a processing fee. It's $35 per person."
Freese: "Our fees are strictly paid by the cruise lines. It's included in every package."
Caldwell: "We're paid by the suppliers. If I book on their tours, I get a commission."
How far in advance should people plan trips?
Boie: "I'd say as far in advance as possible. Even a year in advance in some cases."
Freese: "The sooner, the better. There are last-minute deals but the price of last-minute airfare is so expensive it negates the deals."
Caldwell: "They should start thinking at least a year in advance, especially if it's a cruise to Alaska or something, if they want the best deals."
Do you have a region or country you specialize in? If so, where?
Boie: "Well, pretty much any international travel."
Freese: "Not on purpose. We're forced by our clients - it's the Caribbean in the winter and Alaska in the summer."
Caldwell: "Well, I consider myself an expert in respect to Europe but I can and have planned travel anywhere."
What's the one travel tip you always give customers?
Boie: "Just be sure you check and then double check every booking."
Freese: "It may seem stupid, but always take extra wire hangers. The cruise ships never have enough of them."
Caldwell: "Be organized but be flexible."
Do you recommend customers get trip insurance?
Boie: "Yes we do. It can be priceless."
Freese: "I do. Liability-wise I have to recommend it. It can be so valuable. Also it provides peace of mind."
Caldwell: "I buy it myself. I always recommend it."
Are more vacationers turning to Internet travel sites instead of agencies? If yes, how are you handling this?
Boie: "Yes. We're getting some back because people need more information than what's available online."
Freese: "I find they go on and look and do some homework, but few people actually book online."
Caldwell: "Well, I'm so busy I can't keep my head above water. I've got more work than I can handle - I don't see it."