Sacramento travel agents give advice about trip planning
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Marlene McGary: "If you don't know what you want - a travel agent knows things the average person doesn't have access to."
Who we talked to
Marlene McGary, owner
10360 Newton Way Rancho
Bruce Bitnoff, CEO
Worldpass Travel Group
5080 Robert J. Mathews Parkway
El Dorado Hills
Bill Stone, owner
Let's Go Travel
36 Keel Court
Bruce Bitnoff: "The No. 1 reason is expertise and knowing the components of your travel package."
Bill Stone: "Because a travel agent can give knowledgeable information about the personality of cruise ships and the nuances of resorts."
Do you offer both online and personal service?
Marlene McGary: "I don't offer online service, but people can e-mail me for information."
Bruce Bitnoff: "Yes. We're more of a tour operator, which means we deal mainly with groups."
Bill Stone: "We just offer personal service."
Do you plan all aspects of customers' trips?
Marlene McGary: "I do about 90 percent of the planning."
Bruce Bitnoff: "We're like a trip wholesaler. It's one stop for everything."
Bill Stone: "Yes."
How do you charge?
Marlene McGary: "If I get paid through a hotel or cruise line, I don't charge. If I plan an airline ticket, I charge a service fee."
Bruce Bitnoff: "It's usually just one price that gets you everything. Each trip is customized and has its own fee."
Bill Stone: "Suppliers pay us commission. It would be rare for us to charge a customer."
How far in advance should people plan trips?
Marlene McGary: "I like my clients to tell me what their next three trips are for the next three years."
Bruce Bitnoff: "Anywhere from one year to six months out for groups."
Bill Stone: "At least six months."
How far in advance do people need to get their passport?
Marlene McGary: "I'd like them to get it at least a month ahead of time."
Bruce Bitnoff: "The passport laws have been constantly changing, but I recommend they start six months out."
Bill Stone: "Today. If they need a passport, they should get it as soon as possible."
Do you recommend customers get trip insurance?
Marlene McGary: "Trip insurance is a big rip-off. A waiver, though, is a great idea."
Bruce Bitnoff: "Yes, we recommend it. When you need it, it's invaluable."
Bill Stone: "Yes, particularly if they're older."
What's one place you recommend everyone should visit and why?
Marlene McGary: "Everyone should do London and Paris, but not in the same trip."
Bruce Bitnoff: "I don't think I can answer that. I don't think there's one place everyone should visit."
Bill Stone: "Probably Washington, D.C., because that's the heartbeat of America."
Are there places you tell people to avoid? If so, where?
Marlene McGary: "Jamaica."
Bruce Bitnoff: "Afghanistan. The state department's travel advisories are well worth reviewing."
Bill Stone: "France. French people don't like Americans and act accordingly."