General question regarding travel agents

Today I reached out to the TA I have used since 2007. I had something to take care about regarding an upcoming cruise, but I also wanted some clarity on fees, etc. (She is also an old friend whom I hung out with and travel with a lot “back in the day.”)

Since forever, I have never paid any fees to a TA. I always understood it that the hotels, cruise lines, car rental places, etc, paid her a commission or fee or such. I have shared her name probably at least 100 times and she has helped umpteen friends of mine. Recently, I gave her name to a liner, and lo and behold, the liner came back and told me she now charges a fee. When I asked my friend she said “Yes, many things have changed in the industry and we do charge upfront fees for services as well.” She went on to say she did not charge me for our recent cruise booking because I had everything planned - ship, sailing, cabin numbers, dinner request, etc. and she didn’t actually have to do much. With that, however, she also told me that going forward they no longer book any cruises shorter than a 7 night cruises.

Does anyone have any insight? Is this bizarre? Are the hotels, etc., cutting back on their payments?

I was just about to contact her for a May 2024 cruise I want to take, and since I didn’t want to deal with MSC directly, I was for sure planning to use a TA. Now I wonder if I should find a new TA… Maybe a liner or someone local to my little town.

I love that my friend didn’t charge me, but I don’t love that she didn’t tell me, and I don’t love the flat fee thing (she gave me a schedule).

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This is more and more common and reflects the fact that, unfortunately, there are a lot of guests out there who use a TA to get allllllllll kinds of info and then use that info to book for themselves. Which is silly first of all, but also really shady.

TAs never get paid until a guest has traveled. So that means all of our work done up front - and very often for months and months at a time - is not at all compensated in the event a guest cancels (even for legit reasons) or fails to book. Many agents are now charging fees up front on their own - which is totally kosher and more than allowable as a business owner - to hedge against that. The idea being that you’ll only proceed with paying the fees if you are serious; and you’ll be more hesitant to cancel without a truly legit reason if you’ve paid a fee.

It’s a totally justifiable and fair thing IMO because up until you, the guest, have traveled and the agency has been paid by whatever vendor you used in your trip (hotelier, cruise line, etc), we are working for free.

I do think it should be spoken up front, even if an agent waives a guests’ fees, to avoid awkwardness when guests talk amongst themselves

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I should also say that most guests are really surprised when I tell them that my services are complimentary - or at least paid for by Disney (but no cost to the guest in addition to their trip). It’s as if, to guests, as with most things, getting something for nothing feels more strange to guests than paying for services.

The reality is if you book a Disney trip directly and don’t use a TA you’re actually leaving money on the table because it’s rolled into the cost of your trip - Disney just keeps it when you don’t use a TA (and doesn’t provide that personalized service that a TA does!).

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Thank you for explaining. I know if I called her she would share more, but I honestly didn’t want to make it awkward. We’ve been friends forever, but it’s not like I’ve done a lot of traveling the last few years and … I’ve also sent her money after we’ve cancelled trips bc I knew she’d done some leg work.

not cool

This is why, even when I have booked a cruise myself, I have had it moved to her. I wanted someone to benefit from the trip.

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Regarding upcoming cruising, do you think someone can represent themselves well enough with a cruise line or would it be better to have an agent?

If something happened and I needed to cancel or something, would I be better off having a TA? It could be a more worthwhile $200 than some of the insurance policies I buy.

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I really can’t advise on that. That’s a very personal question that only a person could answer for themselves

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That is so not cool! :rage:

But you sure give out lots of information here and most of us don’t pay you for it! :grimacing: Feeling guilty…

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Here I’m just a Liner :slight_smile:

I’ve had plenty of people reach out to me and ask me to put my TA hat on for them and I’m more than happy to do so.

But when I’m here, I’m not a TA. I’m just part of the riffraff. And good luck getting rid of me :wink:

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Intellectual property can sometimes be tricky to convince people that it is worth paying for. I have the same types of conversations quite often.

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I’ve struggled here and there over whether to proceed with charging fees. On the one hand I get it. On the other hand… eh.

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I’m lucky that I have a hybrid setup. None of my local competitors charge upfront fees so I lost out on quite a few prospects when I tried to implement it on my own. My average project probably has 5-10 hours of design work invested before I can give someone accurate budgets. But I will not release designs in any form without a retainer or a commitment to proceed with a project. I always love the “Well, can I just take a picture of the design?” question to avoid the retainer.

Some people will just never get it.

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I think when/if it becomes more of an industry standard than “more common” (current state) I’ll do it. But right now it almost feels like more work than it’s worth.

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That’s the key.

I’m the only one in town that enforces a design retainer policy but I just got fed up with investing so much time for people to then go down the street to save 3% because the other guy doesn’t understand what he needs to understand.

It didn’t happen that often, but there was that one time that just became the last straw.

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I’ve used two TA’s from here and both were fantastic and I’ll happily recommend to anybody.

One was instrumental in getting several seemingly impossible holiday party tickets (West coast hours, yo) and I owe many happy memories to her.

The other was for a trip to DLR that I ended up having to cancel. The only negative experience with that was my own failure for not reading the documents before I tried to cancel. The fault was entirely mine, but Disney’s lack of interest in helping me after the fact (Disney’s part, NOT the TA’s) soured me on using a TA to book hotels unless I know for a fact that I won’t need to cancel. (I did too close to the trip date).

Again, it was entirely my fault, and a costly one at that. I know plenty of others who use TAs for hotels all the time and never have any issues. My damn anxiety got the best of me and it probably cost me a fun future travel buddy too.

Like I said, I’d happily recommend using either TA for anyone that asks (I don’t want to just name them w/o permission).

As for charging, I’m pretty sure I’m the last person to ask as I just bought a brand new car 20 minutes after walking into the first dealership I went to. No haggling at all. That being said, I feel like they should charge for their time if they want to. It’s time away from their own families to help us. They should also have the ability to not charge if it makes them feel good.

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I would think that they know what the market can bear. :+1:
Over the last few years the entire culture has had to learn to accept so much being cancelled that maybe we (collectively, not you or me) are much more easy come/easy go about stuff and the TA’s have paid the price?

I was thinking about how their policy of no cruises less than 7-days means all the money from shorter DCL cruises will be off the table.

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My assumption would be that it’s an investment/profit thing. For instance, a 7-day cruise takes X hours to set up and earns $Y. If a 3-day cruise took 80% of the 7-day time to set up and resulted in 30% of the 7-day income, it becomes less desirable from a time investment standpoint

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Yes. And I have no idea if just because a DCL costs the consumer 3x a Royal that their TA comp is one cent more. And maybe they are more time consuming customers too …. Lots go into the decision I’m sure.

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Using a TP TA for my June trip free of charge.

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What do you design?

banks :smirk:

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