Point & Click Travel? Seriously?

Point & Click Travel? Seriously?

I’m on a travel rant this morning! 

Yesterday I received an email from a person who works with a guest of mine who books a cruise with me every year.  This person is celebrating her 50th birthday in 2010, so let’s all stop to say Happy Birthday!  Her daughter and a couple of friends booked a cruise for her birthday party.  They found an online agency, pointed, clicked, and purchased a cruise.  Then, they had to find airfare.  With no real live person to give them advice or assist them with their purchase, they purchased the lowest price airfare, arriving in port the day of the cruise and returning home the day the cruise returns.  (Yes, I see some of you veteran cruisers already cringing!  But, remember, we didn’t always know this stuff either!) 

Fact:  The least expensive airfare for the exact dates of your cruise almost never works for cruise guests! 

Why?  Airfare is based on supply and demand.  The higher the demand, the higher the price.  When 2,000+ cruise guests are flying into port on the same day, trying to arrive in port before the ship leaves, the best priced flights on the departure date for that port are going to be the ones that arrive after the ship has sailed.  And, the flights with the lowest price when the ship returns are before the cruise guests can make it to the airport. 

Fact:  The lowest cruise price isn’t always evident online. 

Why?  Fares can be discounted for lots of different reasons that you may not see on the Internet.  Military service, your state residency, your age, and your job or affiliation are just a few reasons you may be eligible for discounts on your fare.  I found a lower fare with onboard credit that this guest could have booked. CB Nov2009 007

So, here’s the rub.  Instead of dreaming of this exciting cruise, planning what to pack and what exciting shore excursions to take, my guest’s friend is hassling with an online agency to try to get her air itinerary changed with the least change fees.  A travel agent doesn’t cost any more to use … we may actually save you money, but we sure save you from hassles like this. 

Use the Internet to research your trip to find the perfect destination for you, but call a travel agent to do the actual booking.  You’ll be glad you did.  Just say no … to buying travel by point and click!

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