One of the most dreaded and equally welcoming statements from a client is “I have been looking online and…”
Why is it dreaded? Because most of the time what you find online is not a true picture of what you are really dealing with in the world of travel, especially not in the world of Group Travel. This can lead to a LOT of misinformation and disappointment. The fares you see online are very limited to how many passengers can travel at that rate and at most it is 4-6 seats as a rule. Also, if you are dealing with a 3rd party site, most of them will put together your itinerary and often “marry’ airlines together that do not in reality have a code share, meaning they cannot be on the same contract. It is a lot to work through even for a seasoned “self-booker.”
Yet at the same time it is often welcomed, because when a client has looked at schedules and researched, they have an understanding of what flights potentially look like in regards to itineraries. Then they trust us to fill in the proverbial blanks and help them book.
Before the world of online and information instantly at your fingertips, I took a trip to Europe, not once but twice. I contacted a local travel agency that had been in business for a number of years and asked for their help. It was a fascinating process to see how they worked. At the time, I was in a different line of work and had partnered with airlines to procure flights before. Those were comparably simple trips compared to a 10 day trip to Europe complete with airfare, ground transport and lodging. The agent I worked with was smart and dedicated and we had a flawless trip. The following year, we returned again and I used the same agent with the same great results. And too, she had done her research and offered so many suggestions to us and even got an upgrade on our travel through the Chunnel from London to Paris. That experience alone let me understand how valuable a knowledge filled professional added to my trip. Now that I work in an agency, I know all of our agents are committed to the same level of service and knowledge.
If you are planning a trip for 1 or 100, I cannot stress to you the importance of having someone navigate this process for you. You may indeed be great at booking travel and travelling, however, when something happens, as it often does, it is important to have an advocate in your corner. Here are a couple of examples from my experience as an agent:
For several yearly trips in a row, I had the same group have extreme difficulty in their travels. Once they were stranded abroad because the line of aircraft they were returning to the United States on were suddenly grounded. The FAA had put a stop order out due to multiple issues with the planes. So on that particular day, we took 30 passengers from a group of 60 and put them on a smaller plane. The remaining 30 had to be rebooked by the current carrier to another one to get the rest of the passengers home. While it took all day and there were a lot of hoops to jump through, our clients were safe at home on schedule.
The following year, storms had hit the city where they connected to their international flight and they were not allowed to depart until the storm system had passed. This caused them to miss the connecting flight to their final destination. That was the last flight of the day, so the airlines worked with our agency to get the group reprotected over to another flight the following morning. It was not ideal but it was the best solution outside of cancelling the trip.
Respectfully, had we not been a part of the process in the above scenarios, our Group Leaders would have been in recovery mode, rather than leading the group. With our assistance they were able to handle the group and their mission without worry or distraction. This is our goal: let us work for you and let our experience be yours.
When the Covid shutdowns starting happening; our agency had a multitude of trips scheduled that were cancelled as a result. It took our agents days to unwind what that meant for our groups and what it would mean in regards to refunds or future travel. It was a lot and often it felt like we were working in the dark as rules were constantly being issued and changed. Everyone was in the midst of just trying to figure out what life looked like. Thankfully, all of our groups were accommodated and taken care of. After travel began we encountered Group Leaders who had self-booked with hands full of credits and rules that came to us for help. The carriers did what they could for them, but as all unfolded the conditions of the credits needed some strong interpretation. Thankfully, it worked out.
All of this to say that if you are booking travel let us help you. After all, you are busy we all of the other details, we can handle this for you.
Call us at 800-800-2519