I read with great interest the saga by Brittany Boll about her recent family vacation.
Things going exactly as planned is never guaranteed. Having a travel consultant in the middle would have saved her a lot of anguish.
Travel consultants are still around. We often have spent many years in this industry. I have owned my own agency since 1999, and I have been in the travel business off and on since 1969. Travel consultants have traveled widely and know what to recommend to our clients.
Everyone who books with my office even a train ticket from here to Macomb will have my cell number with them. If something unforeseen happens, they can text or call from wherever they are in the world. The only time my phone is not with me is when I am in church or asleep.
Travel professionals in our area normally do not charge anything for their services. We do charge a service fee for airline and rail tickets, as those companies have not paid us anything since 2000, but booking a cruise or vacation package won’t cost any more than what you see advertised.
A up-front fee will be discussed if a lot of work is to be done. A traveler must agree to the fee before work is done. An example would be a trip to Europe where a traveler does not want to travel on a motorcoach with 40 other people doing the same thing but rather wants to take the trains or a car to travel on their own, perhaps sleep a night or two in a castle, etc.
I highly recommend people to use their local travel agency. As Brittany wrote, “Most things online are different in real life.”
We have traveled to many locations around this world. We can help take away most of the stress of planning and researching new areas. A traveler who wants to do research can do so. Perhaps it isn’t quite as stressful if they are guided to the right websites. We use the internet for research as well, but we have relationships with suppliers and have other more detailed and proven sites available to us.
Many travelers’ vacations were cancelled during the COVID shutdown. When our clients wanted their money refunded, we fought for that until they received it. If they wanted to book a later date, we also made sure they were protected. Some suppliers offered 125 percent of the value of what they had paid to be applied to a future vacation. We made sure that was done correctly, all without charging the clients anything more. We had no income due to the cancellation.
I’m not saying a person can’t book their own travel arrangements. However, when you do it on your own, you are truly on your own. Mega agencies like Priceline and Expedia are not concerned about our local travelers. I know telephone wait times are very long since the start of the pandemic, but we don’t accept every change in itinerary without checking out the possibility of having something better for our clients.
We have also given valuable advice on when to cancel a trip. We kept telling our clients who wanted to cancel that they should wait till the supplier cancelled. Those who listened to that advice were glad they did. They did not lose the insurance and often received 125 percent in credits for another trip. Those who “knew better” and asked us to cancel arrangements — in some cases just one day before the supplier cancelled — lost the insurance amount and sometimes more.
I’m glad Brittany found many people willing to help stranded folks. We could have definitely not foreseen the transmission problem her family had with their car rental. However, if we had rented that car for her, all she would have had to do is call my cell. Then she only had to wait for my call back to tell her it had been taken care of.
I’m also glad the vacation was not a total loss. They made the best of the time they had together.
I have the very best job in the world. I help our clients make memories. What could be better than that?
Mecki Kosin has owned The Travel House of Quincy since 1999. She has organized many tours through Europe and the United States. She is the only registered certified travel counselor in Quincy.