Honeymoon Discussions

Considering Using Travel Agent

Hello Knotties, 

I am recently engaged and am beginning to plan my wedding and honeymoon. (But I've been a longtime lurker!) We are having a somewhat long engagement - our wedding is in Oct. 2016 - but I have already started looking into honeymoon ideas. I am considering using a travel agent to book, but having never used an agent before, I have some questions for those of you out there with experience.

1) I am considering using a larger agency that is not local to the area where I live. (There are not many highly-recommended agencies in my area.) Has anyone used an agency that is not local to them? If so, how did it work - did you still feel as though you got the personal touch of having an agent even though you didn't meet them in person? 

2) Do travel agencies generally have a minimum amount that you must spend on the trip in order to engage their services? 

3) How far in advance do you need to contact the travel agency? I am guessing that I probably have some time before I need to contact them, but just am not sure how much lead time they need. 

4) Any other thoughts or recommendations on travel agents would be much appreciated. I typically book my vacations on my own online after lots of research, but I was thinking for the honeymoon it might be nice to have someone with experience with the destination finesse the arrangements. (We are considering doing approximately 12 nights in Italy, but neither of us has ever been.) 

Thank you in advance for your help. I'm looking forward to using these boards as I plan! 

Re: Considering Using Travel Agent

  • Jells2dot0Jells2dot0 Cowtown mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I have used a few different travel agencies before, all of which are no where near to where I am located. I work with a particular agency/agent based on where I am traveling, so for example- if I am traveling to Tahiti, I work with a Tahiti Specialist. When I was looking to go to a Caribbean all inclusive, I worked with a Caribbean all inclusive specialist.

    If you are looking to work with the absolute best of the best, those agents will charge custom planning fees and may have booking minimums, but most agents do not. The top agents charge those fees because you are paying for their exclusive connections in addition to having a one stop shop for advice and customer service before, during, and after your trip.

    I probably would not contact someone too early because there is not too much they can do before rates are published. Air is available 330 days prior to the flight date. Hotels are usually available a year in advance.

     







    dolewhipper
  • Jells2dot0 - Thank you so much for the info, it was very helpful! Even though I am excited to get a jump on the planning, it sounds like it will be best for me to wait until later this year. 
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited April 2015
    If you have booked vacations online, you have already used travel agents.  ALL online travel sites are travel agencies.  This includes Expeedia, Travelocity, Sam's Club, Costco, AAA.

    I am a cruise junkie.  I just booked my next cruise with my favorite agent from a large company in Houston, TX.  We talk  over the phone as often as I need, and he knows us well enough to predict what we will expect.  He is very experienced and gives great advice.  I will share his name and contact information with anybody who PMs me.  (Nothing in it for me.  I just want him to stay in business.  I think he's great!)

    Earlier in my travel history, I used a local travel agent.  The agent was wonderful, and provided the same discounts that the websites have.

    As others have said, it is too early to make firm plans.  A lot can happen before your wedding date - like hurricanes, fires, and new business owners.  There is no fee for using most travel agents.  They are paid by the resorts and cruise lines after you take your trip.
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  • I usually do my own research and book my own vacations - but for my honeymoon, i used an agent.  We went to a few locations in Southern Africa, the flight itineraries were confusing, and i have zero experience with that part of the world.  I used a woman who was not local to me but was suggested by my wedding planner because she specializes in vacations in that part of the world, and had been there herself multiple times.

     

    I don't think it saved us any money on flights/hotels/cars over doing it ourselves, but we did get some good perks.  For example, at one of our resorts, the online-published "honeymoon rate" included only breakfast, but she was able to get one that was actually inclusive of breakfast and dinner.  when we saw the prices on the resort dinner menu, we realized that probably did save us some cash.  i had done hotel research before hand and told her exactly where we wanted to stay and in what type of room, but she did have some good suggestions for alternate accomodations as well.  All in all, it was a positive experience, and i'd do it again.

     

    DEFINITELY look for someone with good reviews and who has a lot of experience (and preferably a lot of personal travel experience) in the area you want to go.  And then engage them about 11 months before your planned trip.  In the meantime, go to the library and take out some guidebooks for the area so you can get an idea of where exactly you want to stay and what you want to be able to do.  Without this, we woudln't have realized that we wanted to rent cars in two of the three locations we visited, for example.  it's a big help.

    missmagnolia
  • CMGragain - I hadn't really thought of the online sites that way before! 

    delujm0 - Thank you so much for all of the input. I am in the same boat as you, I generally have booked all my travel alone (and have traveled a little bit internationally even) but for the honeymoon I was just wanting that little something extra. Glad to know about the cost-saving/not aspect of it as well, because I was a little curious about that.

    I'd like to ask you ladies - how did you find an agent that specialized in the area you were interested in? Just Google? 

  • Jells2dot0Jells2dot0 Cowtown mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Google and also the country's tourism website!

    I think the cost savings thing will depend on the destination, but, in general, your major benefits are being able to have everything all in one package, under one point of contact, who can answer any and all questions, address any concerns, provide insider advice, all for the same price as if you have tried to piece it together on your own time (and potentially risk missing items as well.)

     







    JoanE2012missmagnolia
  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    Hey! My mom is a a travel agent so I always recommend them. She is a Carribean specialist but she books everything all over the world. She books $1,000 Cancun to $20,000 European River cruises. There is no cost to you- she gets a commission kickback from the hotels and airlines.

    Honestly, it's SO helpful to work with someone who has actually been to the places. My friends all use her for their honeymoons and she doesn't just say "this resort is best" and send them all there. She is able to ask the couple their individual wants and needs and chose the appropriate resort for them. Some like the best beach, some like the best food, some like a party atmosphere while others want a quiet retreat. You can read reviews online that say a place is great, but that doesn't mean it's your style or what you are looking for. Agents can really help with that.

    Plus she lives 1200 miles from us, so she books all of ours over the phone with no problem. And when my honeymoon flights got canceled and changed by the airline, she was the one on the phone sorting it out a week before my wedding- instead of if I had booked online, I'd be the one dealing with fixing that mess.

    Do you have a AAA near you? That's who she works for, you can just walk into any AAA and ask for the specialist for the location you are seeking.

                                                                     

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    JoanE2012
  • It looks like there is a AAA near me. I will have to check it out, thanks! 
  • AAA is also a travel agency.
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  • Jells2dot0Jells2dot0 Cowtown mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its

     

    CMGragain said:

    AAA is also a travel agency.

    @jenna8984 said her mom is a travel agent that works for AAA. I don't think anyone was doubting they were a travel agency.

     







    jenna8984
  • Oops, I missed that.
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