ou finally decide to take a vacation and go online to get ideas. You find that perfect destination and decide to call your agent to book. After discussing all of the details, the agent comes back to you with a higher price. Wait…what? I just saw this exact trip online and it’s $100 less! Then you think, it does cost more to use a travel agent.

The simple answer is no, it does not cost more to use an agent and you are not paying for our services. The clients do not pay us. Agents are paid from the suppliers. Rather than them keeping 100% of the profit for each booking, a percentage is given to the agent. It does not cost the client more to use our service. In cases where the trip is cheaper, the air may be basic economy rather than economy, or the cabin/room picked is in a less than desirable location or has some prior issues. More often than not, there are underlying reasons for the price discrepancy, reasons that most travelers are not aware of.

Don’t get me wrong, I use Expedia’s travel agent site often when booking an overnight hotel stay but that is generally as far as I will go. I can cite hundreds of horror stories from travelers booking with these sites but here a few to give you an idea of what can and usually does go wrong. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Case #1

Whether a flight home from Mexico. Client and her family need a place to stay for the night, they are sold out at the resort they were in and her second option had no rooms either. Knowing it needed to be quick we looked to Expedia. (she already knew I had reservations doing this but she was willing to try) Found a place and booked it. While it took a while to find the resort, when she got there, they had no record of her booking. No problem, she had the email confirmation from Expedia. Well, that didn’t work either. Now, her credit card was already charged and no-one was answering the calls at Expedia for help. I was going to work this on my end while she worked on getting another room somewhere. She had developed a relationship with the manager of what was her second option and he told her to call if she needed help. She did and he booked her (through Expedia) at a friend’s hotel. Great…or so they thought. Once again they arrive and there is no record of the reservation. The good news is, there was availability and then they were able to cancel the second reservation without any issues. While everything eventually turned out OK, they wasted several hours driving from resort to resort and it took several weeks and many phone calls and letters before the refund on the original booking was refunded.

Case #2

We worked with a client on finding the perfect booking for about 10 days. each day led to looking at different resorts, islands, and rooms until we found the perfect one. Great! Or so we thought. The client was to call her back with all of the details fo booking. When she did not hear back from her, she called the next morning, only to find out that her client had found the trip for $70 less online and booked it. Well, ok, but in many cases, we can price match most online suppliers and it is a win-win. They still have us in their corner to provide customer service, they are booked with a well-respected supplier, and they get the best price out there. Well, this client gets to the resort we suggested, (which, by the way, has been a favorite of our clients and all have had great experiences here) and checks-in. When they get to their room, they are very unhappy. It is in an area with a lot of noise and has a very musty smell. Not only that, but they are next to the mechanical room. They go to the front desk to complain and are informed that the resort is sold out and they can’t be moved. (what really happened is that the rate they paid was sold out and were not going to be moved to a higher category) Well, they continued to complain and then were told that they could move to the sister property next door but would have to pay $100 more per night for their 4-night stay. They were not happy but agreed to it. That $70 savings just turned into a $330 expense and the loss of an entire day of their trip. Had they booked with us, they never would have gotten that room and in the event that there was an issue, we would have handled it for them quickly with minimal disruptions to their vacation.

Case #3

Client calls to book a particular resort. She had found it online and already knew the price. She wanted to book with us. We search every supplier we can possibly think of and everyone shows no availability. We can find the sister property fo the exact price she was looking for but not the property she wanted. She goes ahead and books it online because even after I called, I was told there was nothing available. When they arrive for check-in she is informed that her reservation is at the sister property next door and not at the location she thought she was booking. She tried to call the online agency but never got through to anyone who could help. She emailed and wrote the company on several occasions after returning but still has not heard back.