In the times that I am not covering sports, I am a full-time travel agent of 12+ years. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the travel world. I’ve heard the horror stories from customers, and even family members of mine. So I guess what I am doing is writing out an article that will serve as a Public Service Announcement. But more importantly, maybe educate the customers about booking with a travel agent. I figure there are about 5 or 6 cruise myths that customers love to believe. These are not the only ones, just a few I’ve come across the most. For each one, I will list the myth and then I will explain what really goes on.
Popular Myths in the Cruising Industry
“If I wait until closer to the sailing date, I will get the best deal.”– Wrong, this myth actually started prior to 2001 and prior to the boom in cruising. This myth actually grew legs because people who lived close to the ports would go to the pier the day of sailing and get great rates. This was because prior to the Internet and prior to September 11th, 2001 the cruise lines would basically beg people to fill their ships so they wouldn’t go empty. Now, thanks to the internet and computer algorithms Cruise Lines are filling their ships weeks ahead of the sailing date and there are no deals closer to sailing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The best pricing is when the ship first opens for sales.
“I don’t want to book with an agent because then I will have to pay their commission.”- Wrong, I have actually had this told to me multiple times. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Travel Agents. The fact of the matter is, the commission comes from the base price of the cruise. Which is the same no matter where you book. So for example, if you book XYZ cruise and the total price is $1500 with the cruise line, then the price with a travel agent will be equal to that. Sometimes it may be lower due to Groups or Incentives. Out of that $1500, let’s say the base rate is $900. Well, the cruise line will give the agency a percentage of the $900 in commission, depending on how much volume the agency does. It does not affect the price of the cruise one bit.
“I don’t want to talk on the phone, I can just book it online.”- Not so much is this one wrong as is it creates a responsibility on the customer. Travel Agents are trained in the different fare codes and the terms and conditions. The customer/website is not. There have been times where I have personally fought for a customer. Hence, I have gotten something accomplished simply because they had a travel agent on their side. Also, a common misconception is that the website price is less than booking with you. Again, not true as the website pricing and the pricing the agent have are both the same.
“I don’t need Travel Protection, nothing will ever happen to me.”- You may be right, nothing will happen to you or you are as healthy as an ox. But that doesn’t mean something can’t happen to a family member or to a traveling companion’s family member. It’s also not just for cancellation. As my Aunt Dina can attest, if she had Travel Protection when she booked her last cruise she wouldn’t be out over $200 for seeing a doctor on the cruise ship. You never know and the amount of money it cost to protect your vacation is so minimal. Thus, it would be wise to invest in Travel Protection.
“The Cruise Line has this cruise for lower pricing or can offer me On Board Credit that you can’t.”- False. Cruise Lines no longer compete with Travel Agencies for business. Most of them would prefer you book with a Travel Agent. Any price/offer the cruise line can give you, I guarantee the Agency who is working with you can get from the Cruise Line for your booking. Because again, as I said, Cruise Lines are not competing with Travel Agencies, they’re working side by side.
“I have a coupon and it says to book directly with the cruise line.”- Most agencies will accept any coupon that is offered by the Cruise Line. Whether it be because you had a terrible cruise last time or because you complained about something not being right. Once again, because they’re not competing with Travel Agencies, they’re working together.
Conclusion: So in conclusion, Travel Agents are not just glorified note takers or secretaries. Travel Agents go through all sorts of training and ongoing training. This is to stay on top of all the new deals and promos that come out. By booking with an agent, you are putting your vacation in their hands to make sure that you have the peace of mind knowing if something goes wrong they will fight for you to make sure your vacation is an unforgettable one.