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Old 12-09-2009   #16 (permalink)
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Yeah, what they all said!
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Old 12-09-2009   #17 (permalink)
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no offense

I realize i may have come off a bit irate about travel agents, because the only experience i've had with one is a big outfit called Carlson Wagonlit, which here in atlanta does a lot of corporate accounts and charges a premium to help regular folks like me arrange a vacation. I might have got a bad agent who was ignorant of the deals out there or out to make a corporate sized commission off of me, but there prices were laughable. I admire someone who can help answer questions and steer people towards the best deal, and if your not charging a premium then all the better.

yes, i am a miser when it comes to getting a travel deal, the reason i tried 4 times and finally got the price match was mainly for the $150 that vacation express would have saved me, but by booking through Riu and getting the price match, I got free transfers which saveed me another $50 plus I get the Riu Class points added to my account for booking with them...good for upgrades, gift shop tab, little extras like that. Vacation express and companies like that often have other perks like $25 per person spa credit, but since that doesnt appeal to me i booked through Riu and got the free transfers....believe me i tried to get them to match the spa credit too, but they wouldnt go for it.

The main thing I would turn to a travel agent for is not the best price, which i find i am sometimes more capable of getting, but for their knowledge and experience in an area....for someone who has never been to PDC it would be a tossup to trust a travel agent who knows the area and hotels well or spend the time to find it themselves...not everyone likes researching like I do.

I also meant no offense to people who use travel agents...i am not ignorant of auto repair and can do it myself but I dont have all the tools and equipment, or the knuckle busting patience that a professional mechanic has, so I am lazy and have most repairs done at a shop. I am totally ignorant to printing and copying services and go to the local store when i need to fax or copy more than a few things, so i find my time better spent working to earn the money to pay someone else to do it....so when i say some people are too lazy or ignorant to do it themselves, i was not trying to insult your customers.

I appreciate your understanding and not having you jump on me with a defensive rant about my comments...I have been on boards where that is the norm and I don't want to start any fights with my first few posts.

Dave
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Old 12-10-2009   #18 (permalink)
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No problem Dave, and you were actually nice about it so no harm done! That's not always the case though, and us hard working travel agents seem to get the short end of the stick at times.

Anyway, for future reference, many agents, such as myself actually, are in the Riu Partner Club. Not only will we add your Riu Class card to your reservation so you'll get your points, we'll submit any personal requests you might have directly to the hotel on your behalf - we have a special form we can fill out and send them, and you'll receive a gift from us in your room too. Plus, they pay attention to us, because we book a lot of Riu properties, more so than a guest sending an e mail request on their own.

With most packages we book, the transfers are included so while you pay for them indirectly, it's not much AND you have the ability to upgrade to a non stop or private transfer for a little bit extra. Just a nice option if you don't want to deal with a shared shuttle service that'll make multiple stops.

And these days, with all the online competition, most agents don't add service fees, we can't afford to if we want to stay competitive. While we can't always match or beat the price you find online with a discounter, booking that way means you (anyone) is doing all the work and taking all the responsibility for such on their own. No one to answer questions, help should there be flight issues, hotel problems, and booking with a discounter is the easiest way to find yourself bumped out of an oversold hotel. It is always nice to have someone with your personal interest at heart, who will be there should you need anything, or need back up. For those very familiar with the area, who have no questions, going on your own isn't so daunting. But for those that are new or unsure of the hotels they're looking at, help from a Riviera Maya specialist is worth their weight in gold.

Happy vacation to ya, enjoy your trip!
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Old 12-10-2009   #19 (permalink)
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Even Travel Agents need help on vacation. I was in the Riviera Maya during hurricane Wilma. The first thing I did when everything cleared was to find a cell signal and call my Travel agency. They were already in touch with Apple and told me that planes would be in Cancun on Tuesday.
Kudos to Apple for sending all their planes and getting as many Apple passengers as they could out of Cancun. Looking back it was a great experience. When clients say "what happens if there is a huricane?" I can tell them exactly what will happen.
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Old 12-11-2009   #20 (permalink)
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Truth is, many people just don't think about things like that. They say they're ok to do it all themselves, save a little bit by booking with a discount site but when you know what hits the fan, they're left holding the bag and have to try and figure out what to do on their own. Some say they've done it before and everything worked out well, but it only takes one time having a major mess to test their service. Using an agent, it's one phone call, 24/7, and they're on it. Try calling Orbitz or Expedia's 800 number from Mexico (like when you get bumped) - yep, not happening! I've had to fly people home because they got hurt, sick, someone at home is sick or passed away. I've had day of departure cancelled flights that I've had to rearrange, quite a few incidents over the years to make the services of a TA worth while, even if my price is slightly higher. Plus, I know these hotels so when you're confused as to which to pick, you'll have personal recommendations and advice. I know reservation managers, I can touch base with them for requests, etc. Orbitz isn't going to contact a hotel on your behalf with a room request, and they don't care that it's your anniversary. They also aren't going to answer the bizillion questions that I routinely get asked about each hotel. They have little vested interest in your wants and needs over and above the basic "here's the room you booked". Bottom line, I can't always beat an internet discount site but honestly, the services offered are not comparable.

Just sayin!
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Old 12-11-2009   #21 (permalink)
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Old 01-05-2010   #22 (permalink)
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Riu Research

There was one great thing I found on these boards while researching that saved me more money that any travel agent could have. I found a post in a thread on the Riu Palace Mexico-- rooms that mentioned the hotels director of public relations was Katy Black and an e-mail address to send requests to. It was too late to try when i found that info just days before we arrived, but it came in handy.
When we arrived I tried to get a complementary upgrade from the garden view room i paid for to a fountain view room that usually goes for $60 a night more. the hotel was not running at full capacity and the desk guy said no problem.
The problem was the room he gave us was above the buffet and had a wall instead of a railing, these undesirable rooms were mentioned in the thread and I asked if it had a wall or railing, the guy pretended he didnt know, so i went and looked.
I came back and told him I'd rather have a railing, asked if Katy Black still worked there which he said she did. He said they didnt have any rooms with a railing available, so I asked if he could page Ms. Black, figuring I had little to lose, but she was unavailable.
After a 2 hour transfer from the airport I was a bit frustrated and told him if the room with the wall was the best he could do, I'd rather have a garden view on the Yucatan side. (which i heard here is quieter than the other side which overlooks a hotel with a noisy disco) he said he wouldn't have a room on the Yucatan side ready for a few more hours, so I said fine, screw it, I'm tired from my trip, I'll be in the lobby bar.
Well the manager over the rooms overheard the last part of my conversation, and asked where i heard of Katy Black?, maybe tripadvisor? she said Ms. black was unavailable but she was in charge of the rooms,and after a short conversation, she said let me see what i can do and took off. I had a drink or 2 and felt a lot better when she returned with keys to an awesome top floor room with a railing overlooking the courtyard and fountains. She had me sign a slip saying I was given a complimentary upgrade and she confided that Katy Black was a psudonym that they use for e-mail communications and that she hoped I would leave a good review on whatever forum I found that name...I told her i used locogringo, tripadvisor and playainfo and would let them all know how well I was treated. Finding that info here got us a primo balcony with a view and saved me hundreds of bucks compared to booking that class of room in the first place.
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