Monday, September 24, 2018

Don't be afraid, sometimes, to get the assistance of a travel agent.

l am one of those people who prefer to use the Internet for planning and booking all their travel requirements.

That is to say, I did

Let me explain.

About four trips ago we were in the final stages of planning.  We were going to Italy, back to Florence and then a few days in Tuscany based in Greve, up to Innsbruck in Austria to go to Swarovski Crystal Worlds then on to Salzburg, Venice, and finally London for business before heading home.

Grist to the mill for any travel agent.

It didn't take long to realize that unless you traveled between pairs like Brisbane and London, booking odd pairs with stopovers could not be done economically on any of the internet sites.
l wanted to go Brisbane - Hong Kong with stopover - London - Florence with a few unavoidable hours at London.  The lowest Internet fare I could find was around $6000 each.  It was then that I realized Airline sites, even composite airline sites like Travelocity and Webjet composite sites, can't cope with breaking journeys.

After many attempts, thinking I was just doing it wrong, I gave up and went to the travel agent.  I was not expecting much of a difference in price, but l had nothing to lose.  l told her what l wanted and after writing it down with a few modifications based on her knowledge and experience, she set to work.  Half an hour it was done; booked for just over $6,000 for both of us.

OK, if I was a little savvier I may have worked it out myself on those airline sites, but after my experience with this particular travel agent, why bother.

A sidebar to this story was the booking of accommodation, particularly through travel agents.  Every time it seemed that we paid a lot of money and were given the worst rooms.  I could never understand why until I asked one of the staff in our hotel in Venice on our first visit.  The wholesaler paid as little as possible to the hotel, and that was repaid in kind to the customer.  He advised next time to book via the internet for a better deal.

We did, and he was right.  Sometimes the wholesalers care only about their commission than caring about the traveler's requirements.

At the time I booked the airfares I asked for a guide to available accommodation, with the thought that I would use the internet to book it.  When I compared the prices in the book with those on the internet I found they were more or less the same.

After the deal of the airfares, I thought I’d give the travel agent an opportunity to do the accommodation as well.  I picked a place in Greve, and from the Internet site picked the room (by name) that I wanted.  I could not do that on the Internet, and fully expected it could not be done by an agent.

I was wrong.  Once again I was pleasantly surprised.  It seems if you are very specific about what you want, quite often a travel agent can make it happen.

And I have to say those four days in Greve were absolutely amazing.

I may use the Internet for travel requirements when my travel requirements are simple, but when I want something out of the ordinary; I have what I now call my personal travel consultant.

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