San Francisco area travel agencies discuss vacation planning tips
Who we talked to
Victor Velayudhan, owner
A New World Tours Travel
1533 Franklin St.
Marita Roth, manager
16375 Monterey Road, Ste. N
Cynthia Posterman, president
506 Tamalpais Drive
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
Victor Velayudhan: "For those who don't want to use the Internet and would rather get personal service, they should talk to us."
Marita Roth: "In the rare case where something goes wrong, [our] preferred providers try to resolve our problems."
Cynthia Posterman: "Because we've traveled a lot and have experienced the destinations. We can tell them what to expect."
Do you offer both online and personal service?
Victor Velayudhan: "We don't offer online service - just personal service."
Marita Roth: "Both. I don't like conducting business without talking to them."
Cynthia Posterman: "We do have a website but we prefer to deal with our clients personally."
Do you plan all aspects of customers' trips?
Victor Velayudhan: "We do everything. It depends on what the person wants. If people just want airline tickets, we can do it."
Marita Roth: "Yes, everything. If they need dinner reservations at the Jules Verne on top of the Eiffel Tower, we'll reserve them a spot."
Cynthia Posterman: "It depends on the client. Some want us to plan everything, and some want us to do the simple things like buying the tickets."
How far in advance should people plan trips?
Victor Velayudhan: "I need a minimum of two weeks' notice."
Marita Roth: "It depends on where they're going. I'd say at least nine months."
Cynthia Posterman: "A least two months or six months, depending on the season."
What is your experience in the travel industry?
Victor Velayudhan: "I've been sitting in the same location for 18 years."
Marita Roth: "I've been an agent since 1990, when we never booked anything online."
Cynthia Posterman: "I've been doing this 35 years and I'm well-traveled."
Is there a region or country you specialize in? If so, where?
Victor Velayudhan: "Yes. Southeast Asia."
Marita Roth: "Hawaii. I go there twice a year."
Cynthia Posterman: "We book a lot of business to Israel, Greece and Spain."
How far in advance do people need to get their passport?
Victor Velayudhan: "I say it should be the first thing they get before even planning."
Marita Roth: "They've been coming back pretty quickly lately. I'd say at least three months."
Cynthia Posterman: "At least two months."
What's the one travel tip you always give customers?
Victor Velayudhan: "Make sure you reconfirm within 72 hours of any flight."
Marita Roth: "Use common sense. Don't spoil your vacation by leaving your common sense at home."
Cynthia Posterman: "Always reconfirm, even on return flights. Airlines change their schedules constantly."
Do you recommend customers get trip insurance?
Victor Velayudhan: "Yes. We always recommend it. It can save a lot of money."
Marita Roth: "Very much so. I suggest they purchase complete coverage with AIG Travel."
Cynthia Posterman: "I think it's very important. With cruises and other prepaid services, you could lose 100 percent."