San Antonio travel agents discuss their businesses
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Macdonald: "If you book your trip online and something goes wrong, you don't have anybody to fall back on. There's no warm body to help you, and that's very important."
Herff: "They should plan it through a professional for the same reasons they would have an ophthalmologist look at their eyes, or a financial planner look at their finances."
Who we talked to
Patti Kirst, manager and owner
4900 Broadway, Ste. 100
Kirst: "They have someone to gripe at if things don't go right. Also, we may be able to find things that are more suitable to what they want because we can narrow down their choices, and hopefully for a better price."
Do you offer both online and personal service?
Macdonald: "I do mostly personal service. I prefer the personal contact."
Herff: "Primarily, our business is focused on personal service. We have a website, but it's not a booking engine."
Kirst: "Yes. I do quite a bit of business online, and I also do appointments on weekends and evenings."
How do you charge?
Macdonald: "The suppliers pay me a commission for booking, and it doesn't cost the clients any more."
Herff: "We charge consultation fees, and, for incremental airline business, we have transaction fees."
Kirst: "I charge for airline tickets. If it's a complicated booking, then I charge, but otherwise I get paid by my suppliers."
What's one place you recommend everyone should visit and why?
Macdonald: "One of the most incredible countries in the world is New Zealand. It's amazing - you go around a curve and it's an entirely different scene."
Herff: "The big capitals of Europe are high on my list because I have such an affinity for Europe. I also think Russia and India are very exciting at the moment, as well as Machu Picchu."
Kirst: "I'd say Antarctica. That was my favorite trip because it was so unusual and a totally different experience."
Are there places you tell people to avoid? If so, where?
Macdonald: "If they want to go somewhere where there is unrest, I always tell people that they need to go online and check what the State Department says, which I do for my clients."
Herff: "I would avoid Iraq, because it's an active war zone, or countries with high anti-American sentiment. However, I think that most of the world welcomes Americans, so the world is your oyster."
Kirst: "Not really. I wouldn't advise anyone to avoid anything because I won't, unless it's something the State Department says not to do."