Dumped By Our Travel Agent

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It allows us to explore and learn (very quickly) beyond the confines and constraints of our everyday lives. Take travel for example; the Internet allows us to seek out new adventures, research the travel options, and explore the many possible interlinking or branching adventures that can arise from one single trip. What it can also do is frustrate your travel agent, and in our case led to us being dumped by our travel agent.

We had been planning our trip to Barbados for some time. This was is likely to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for our family as we live on the other side of the world, in Australia. Our research went down the well-worn path that all our trips tend to take, that is we focused on:

  • What type of accommodation shall we get,
  • What day trips and adventures can we take the kids in, and
  • What side trips were possible.

Options Options Options

We hadn’t really looked at how we were going to get there and back. We had dealt with a travel agent for our trip to Italy last year (where we visited Rome for a day, Florence and Venice) and wanted to sit down with the travel agent again this time around. As our previous travel agent was based in Tasmania, we decided to find someone a little closer to home. After a few recommendations we settled on a Flight Centre franchise near our home. Our first sit-down consultation with the travel agent started well. After outlining the basics — destination, timeline, budget, etc — our travel agent (lets call him Malcolm) ran us through a couple of options.

  • Taking the Middle East / Europe route, through Dubai and the UK, then flying into Barbados via New York.
  • Taking the trans-Pacific route direct to the USA, then through to Barbados.

Malcolm was keen to push the. Middle East / Europe route. This was seemingly because Emirates could codeshare the entire route into Barbados. However, we were hesitant to commit there and then because we felt the trans-pacific would allow a shorter flight duration (always a consideration when travelling with children), and we really weren’t keen on traveling the Dubai route again.

After leaving the travel agency we actually felt a huge sense of relief. Malcolm had seem to have a one-track-mind when it came to the options he was presenting. While on the surface they seemed like pretty good options, when you took the time to step back and look at what was being presented they just didn’t make sense. For example, travelling through the UK would have meant that we would have needed to change airports…..not terminals, AIRPORTS! If that wasn’t enough, we were doing it with only a few hours layover, with a 5 month old baby, a 6-year-old, and a 7-year-old. Malcolm had also been very keen for us to put down a deposit there and then to secure the tickets (that we weren’t even keen on).

Research — Just Do It

After heading home, we were still keen to explore the trans Pacific option. We knew we could fly direct into the USA from both Melbourne and Sydney. We also knew that we could fly into Barbados directly from both New York and Florida. With some more research under our belt we think we had hit upon a few route options that could work for us, all we needed to do know was confirm timings (timetables and connections). We sent these options to Malcolm who, quite promptly, put together an itinerary. Once again, on the surface, it looked like Malcolm had done the right thing by our family.

However, on closer inspection, tucked in amongst the flight details, it seemed that in his quest to keep prices down (not really), Malcolm had put down a 10 hour layover in Trinidad. Ordinarily this would be ok, however the layover began just after 9:30 pm and went through to the following morning. There was not enough time to check in to a hotel; not enough time have a quick shower, not enough time to explore the local area.

This is where we discovered the fantastic tool that is Google Flights. After running the options through Google Flight, we sent Malcolm what we had found in terms or route and flight numbers, in the hope that he could either:

  • Get us a better price for the flights,
  • Incorporate some additional features for a reasonable price (eg. travel insurance, hotels and transfers)
  • Package everything up into a neat little package.

Dumped

That was the last communication we had with Malcolm. After sending him some screen shots of the routes and airlines we wanted to focus on, we never heard back from him. It took a while for us to realise that we had been dumped by our travel agent. May be he thought we weren’t serious and were simply wasting his time. But one would have thought that if your clients want to do customise their holiday to suit themselves, and are still willing to come to a travel agent to book it, why wouldn’t you just help them book. You’d end up with satisfied customers, and a commission.

What Are Your Travel Agent Experiences?

Thank you for reading. Do you have a Travel Agent story you’re willing to share? Do you think we were to picky with ‘Malcolm’ (not his real name)? Leave a comment below, and please visit us at http://networkdads.com.