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Travel Agent?

Iowa
Level Contributor
92 posts
7 reviews
Travel Agent?

Planning a trip for 8 to Alaska in 2013. I am wondering if anyone has used a travel agency and if there are any pros in going that route. I know I can get a lot of information here but wonder if they would have any better deals?

Thanks for you help!

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
16,195 posts
34 reviews
1. Re: Travel Agent?

Are you doing a cruise or just a land tour? For cruises it is often wise to use a travel agency since they can often negotiate better rates or extra amenities.

For independent land travel, most of us book it all ourselves. Having said that, there have been reports of some using agencies where they get a better price on some things like lodging. Since those Alaskan agencies probably book hundreds of rooms a season, if not a month, they negotiate a better rate on some things.

You can check some out and see if it is better or not.

I personally find that by planning a year in advance I can find some great deals myself. Groupons for some activities, flash EMails for other activities, toursaver or Northern Lights books for more discounts, etc.

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
45,625 posts
44 reviews
2. Re: Travel Agent?

Fti said it well . . . I think there are some deals only travel agents can get, but a wise websurfer who plans ahead can get almost as good of deals - and sometimes better. Utlizing the forum can often give you information that travel agents simply don't have - unless they have personally been to all the places you want to see here in Alaska. The helpful people here on the forum can help you plan an excellent trip! :)

Grayslake, IL
Level Contributor
20 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: Travel Agent?

About 4 weeks ago, I just started planning a 2 week trip myself that starts in June. Kind of a last minute thing and I'm sure I overpaid on some things but other things I saved a lot of money doing it myself compared to the price quotes from a travel agency. It's a decent amount of work, and sometimes the travel agency may know of things you don't, but good deals can be found by calling each destination (hotel, tour, etc) and just asking questions. I've found that sometimes the TA's mark up prices and sometimes you can get great deals just by catching an internet deal at the right time.

haines, alaska
Destination Expert
for Haines
Level Contributor
7,162 posts
35 reviews
4. Re: Travel Agent?

Then again, some travel agents have never been to Alaska and are only interested in booking deals that they earn more commission on........If you really want a quality trip you must:

1. Research to find out what is available in what areas of the state

2. Decide what activities most interest those in your party

3. Book your own flights, rental cars, lodging, tours, etc.

4. Print off confirmations with contact phone #s, keep them with you

Really not a lot of work......empower yourself and you will have the peace of mind in knowing what to expect.........

Our first trip to Alaska many, many years ago, we were shuttled from the cruise to our pre-booked lodging in Anchorage, we found ourselves in a long line at the hotel.....it was overbooked, not by a few people but probably about 30......we were all given new reservations and shuttled on our way.....the hotel we were assigned was a real dive, complete with drunks in the alley......no compensation or apologies were offered, our travel agent was over 1000 miles away.....then when we returned to Anchorage from Denali, something happened with the train (it wasn't explained)..... it took 12 hours getting into Anchorage and they wanted us to all wait on the train for the "expeditor" to arrive.......well we could see our hotel from there so we just walked the block to get there and called later them later to ask about our luggage only to be told that is was lost and they didn't get it to us until the next morning, just in time to go to the airport........

That scenario taught us a long time ago, that it is always best to be in charge of your own travel arrangements........

Rio Vista...
4 posts
5. Re: Travel Agent?

There is a web site, cruisecompete.com, that allows travel agents to bid on the cruise you've selected. I used a local travel agent and later learned I could have done better using cruisecompete.

London, England
Level Contributor
157 posts
11 reviews
6. Re: Travel Agent?

I think all you folk on Trip advisor are fantastic in helping to organise itineraries etc and I'm really looking forward to our holiday in Alaska in July.

My recent discovery, which is helping with all the paperwork mentioned by mombear, is a website tripit.com which organises all the e-mail confirmations from airlines, hotels etc into a personal itinerary with contact numbers etc. that is really helping to cut down the amount of paperwork to carry.

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
6,842 posts
17 reviews
7. Re: Travel Agent?

I've started using TripIt.com as well - it's a fantastic way to organize your trips. You can even send a URL of your itinerary to a close friend or relative so they will know where you will be and how to reach you in an emergency. TripIt also has a smartphone app that allows you to update the trip details in real time if things change.

We used it on our Alaska trip last December to keep our (concerned) family members up to date on our travels. Between that and occasional status updates on Facebook, they were able to know that we were OK, but still had the necessary info to contact someone if they did not hear from us for a while. This gave everyone a little peace of mind, while allowing us to enjoy our trip without the onus of "checking in".

I use it for almost every trip now, and give it "two thumbs up".

-JimG

Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
Level Contributor
7,246 posts
160 reviews
8. Re: Travel Agent?

Ruggedgem -- Have done bookings both ways -- independently and with a trusted, reliable travel agent (one that we've used for years for business travel).... We may have occasionally paid a bit more under either scenario, but found our preference depended on the complexity of the trip. If it's one with multiple hotels, multiple flights, etc, we don't mind paying a bit of a premium for the peace of mind of knowing that if we really get in a bind (major flight changes, lost hotel reservation, etc) our travel agent is just one phone call away and will take it from there in finding a resolution for us....

A small extra price is sometimes worth the convenience, especially if anyone in your party is a nervous traveler -- very handy to be able to look them in the eye and remind them that "if we have any trouble, ___ will handle it for us."

Iowa
Level Contributor
92 posts
7 reviews
9. Re: Travel Agent?

So much help! Thank you all for your imput. I had not hear of TripIt, will be checking it out! We are doing Alaska by land, late Summer 2013. I don't mind the reserch, so guess I will be planning this trip on my own - correction - with TRIP ADVISOR!

Thank you so much for your help!!!!!

10. Re: Travel Agent?

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