Seattle area travel agents give tips on trip planning
Who we talked to
Sally Goodgion, owner
1140 E. Seattle St.
Tim Cunningham, manager
424 Broadway Ave. E.
Chris Carnevali, vice president of sales
Doug Fox Travel/ U.S. Travel
2003 Western Ave. Ste. 445
Why should people plan a trip through a travel agency?
"The experience the agent can offer. Just reading about [a destination] doesn't beat the experience of a person who's been there, tasted the food and met the people."
"For expertise. You can book a ticket online, but you aren't necessarily going to get feedback about the destination. If you have problems while traveling, we have about 400 offices in most major cities."
"They get somebody who's very knowledgeable. When things go wrong, there's somebody to turn to."
How do you charge?
"Sometimes we charge service fees, but mostly we're paid directly through the great wholesalers we work with."
"We charge a $25 service fee per passenger if you buy something. That's about it. Most of our money comes from airlines or suppliers."
"It varies, depending on what they're doing."
How far in advance should people plan trips?
"I'd say three to six months. If it's an extensive trip, the longer you have to plan, the better."
"As far in advance as possible, especially for the summer or holidays."
"Depending on the destination, I'd do it at least 60 to 90 days out, and sometimes a year out."
How do you help customers narrow down their travel destination?
"I ask a lot of questions. The more I know, the more I can plan the perfect dream vacation."
"We talk about what they want to do on their trip. If they're not sure where to go, we can steer them to something they might want to do."
"The agent will sit down and talk with them and get a feel for what their needs are."
How far in advance do people need to get their passport?
"At least three months ahead of time. In case there's a problem, you don't want it to be at the last minute."
"The average wait time is six weeks, so if you don't want the extra cost of expediting it, I'd say two months."
"It's best if they can do it six months out. The earlier, the better. You need to renew it in a timely manner, too."
What's the one travel tip you always give customers?
"Purchase travel insurance. It's not expensive, and it saves a lot of hassle and heartbreak down the road."
"Take out insurance. You'll feel a lot more comfortable knowing you're covered if anything should happen."