While most people assume that the Internet has erased the need for travel agents, the industry is still alive and overwhelmed by travellers who want a little friendly advice alongside their plane ticket. This is good news for travel agents – but the uprise of Internet travel resources also means that travel agents spend most of their time translating Internet deals into realistic travel plans. And the misunderstandings that arise can cause a bit of frustration, to say the least. From an ex-travel agent, here are ten phrases that your trip planner loathes to hear.
1. “I saw a flight to X destination for half this price online!”
Yes, and I can get you the same flight for the same price. But the flight you saw had three stopovers, four different airlines and a total travel time of 46 hours. The flight I’m offering you is direct, because you specifically asked for it to be. Unfortunately that also means a price change.
2. “I don’t need to use a travel agent, I could book this trip myself online!”
Okay. Then go book it online. There are multiple benefits of booking with a travel agent, but since you’re sitting in my office and not in front of your computer at home, I’m going to guess you already know them. You’re simply asking me to beg for your business, which I’m not going to do. I enjoy helping you plan trips but if you’d rather do it yourself online, I’m not going to stand in your way.
3. “You can get me 50% off because we’re friends, right?”
No. I can’t even get myself 50% off. When I give you a discount it’s almost always coming straight out of my commission, which means I’m essentially working for free and/or losing money by not spending that time helping other customers. I love you, but not that much.
4. “$1200 is too much for that flight – I’ll pay $1000 for it.”
Here’s a shocking information blast – travel agents don’t set airfares. The airlines do. If you want to look at other options – perhaps an indirect flight or a different airline, I’m happy to help you try to find something closer to $1000. But if the exact flight you’re set on is $1200 I can’t give it to you for $1000. Not unless I put $200 of my own money towards it… and we all know that’s not happening.
5. “You must travel all the time for work!”
Nope. We do get good deals on trips but this is an office job just like any other – we probably have 2 weeks of vacation time per year and get paid next to nothing to work here. The combination of those limits our travel options. Chances are, we are insanely jealous of YOUR travel opportunities. You’re probably taking a lot more trips than we are.
6. “I want a two week all-inclusive trip to Jamaica in a five star resort for $1000. None of my criteria is negotiable.”
Then it looks like you should start looking for “Help Wanted” ads in Jamaica. We’re good at finding deals but we’re not miracle workers and some requests just aren’t realistic. When you refuse to compromise, you’re not winning the game of hardball. In order to help you, we need to work with realistic criteria.
7. “Just give me the best price you have.”
When we ask you questions about what kind of hotel, flight or experience you’re looking for, we aren’t always trying to upsell you – we genuinely want to find you something that fits your needs. I can give you the cheapest hotel in Los Angeles but you’re not going to be a happy camper when you get there. Best price does not always equal best deal.
8. “These change penalties/luggage fees are bullshit – I’m not paying them!”
Then you’re also not changing your flight or checking your bags. Honestly, we know they’re bullshit but they’re the airline’s rule, not ours. We can try our best to plea your case but at the end of the day we completely lack the ability to get most airline fees waved, so if you don’t want to pay them then you’re out of luck.
9. “I’ll need your personal cell phone number in case anything goes wrong.”
This is an industry grey area. Though I know many travel agents who will freely give out their personal numbers to clients, I sure as hell don’t want to be woken up at 4am to you asking me to order you a taxi to your hotel in Indonesia where it is currently mid-afternoon. If you do get into trouble abroad, most travel agencies have an emergency line that you can call 24 hours a day. I, on the other hand, have very limited resources available to me in my bedroom. Calling me at home isn’t going to help resolve your problem.
10. “Thanks for the advice – I’ll book it online tonight.”
We’re happy to share our travel expertise because we do genuinely want you to have the best trip possible. But at the end of the day, we make our money off you booking with us. If you’re not planning to book with a travel agent, please don’t ask them to help you plan your trip – you’re wasting our time and taking advantage of our services. Our industry thrives on despite the Internet because we provide the care and reassurance that you’re looking for while planning your trip – and chances are that’s worth a few extra dollars. If it’s not, then do us all a favour and do the research yourself.