To validate this theory I have begun asking "self-bookers" why they don't use a travel professional to book heir travel. Most of the people I have spoken with give a strong argument for self-booking based upon their underlying assumptions. It would be nice if these underlying assumptions were correct.
Keep in mind a few truisms about finance. First, "You never get anything for nothing." The second is like the first and states, "You get what you pay for," and the third is, "If it seems to good to be true it probably is." I'll bet you have used each of these expressions at some point in your life.
That third one is a bit tricky when it comes to travel because you really have no way of knowing if
There is a relationship between price and value but it is not what you may suppose. Value is tied to your expectations. It answers the question, "What am I going to get for the money I spend and does it meet my expectations?" When you get what you want/expect for as good a price as you can then your value per dollar goes up. People who can't appreciate the quality sound of a Bose sound system are not getting value for whatever amount the spend on a Bose System.
Here's where the value of the Travel professional comes in handy. Sit down with your Travel Agent
A good Travel Agent will know whether the price being paid is a good value or not in relationship to what you are buying. For example, if you want to book a cruise for an anniversary celebration. You go online and you find a booking site and you fill in the blanks (Date of travel, port of embarkation, destination and duration of trip and occasion) and hit the search button. A page opens and says, "Please wait while we find your cruise vacation." After a moment or so up pops a list of all the cruises leaving from your selected port. Prices run for a 7 night Carnival fat $799 per person to a 7 night Azamara cruise for $2699 and about four other cruise lines between those prices. Which one is the best value? The answer is, the one that gives you the biggest bang for your buck and comes closest to meeting your expectations. That may not be the cheapest or the most expensive.
The second misunderstanding is that you save money doing it yourself because you don't have to pay a travel agent. The truth is that you do not save money doing it yourself. How is that possible you ask? It's really pretty simple. Let's say you booked the $799 Carnival cruise mentioned above and you did it through a travel agent. What do you think the cost to you is going to be? If you said $799 you'd be right. If on the other hand you book that same cruise through Expedia or Travelocity what would be your cost. If you said $799, again you'd be correct.
The price is the same. The cruise lines build into their pricing and amount equal to about 17% of the price you pay less what they call NCF's for that cruise as commission because that is what they pay sellers of their cruises between 10-17% based upon volume of sales. Hence, since I am not a large volume Carnival Travel Agent they, not you, would pay me about $49 for that cruise. However, because Travelocity is a large volume seller of their cruises the would get about $83.30. I might add that this is also true if you use one of Carnival's Personal Vacation Planners. PCP and paid on commission just like a private travel agent or an online booking site. Regardless of how you book your cruise your cost is the same.
You say "Wait a minute neither of those amounts equal the percentages you mentioned. That is correct. Because nearly all cruise lines subtract from the total cost of the cruise an amount they call non-commissionable funds (NCF's) the actual commission is much smaller than one might think. Commissions are paid on the remainder after NFC's are deducted. It is a bit more complicated than that but suffice it to say what is significant to you is that you will pay the same either way.
BTW: If you book directly online with the cruise line (No agent, no PVP, no online booking company) you are paying the cruise line for the privilege of doing all the work. The commission amount as a part of the purchase price is on top of what the cruise line must receive to make their predetermined profit per cabin. So by doing it yourself on their website you are literally paying too much for your cruise vacation by returning the commission amount to the cruise line.
However, I rarely try to beat the online price because I know you are looking for a special kind of vacation when you buy a cruise vacation. Truth is, you really don't want the cheapest available cabin. What you really want is the best value you can get for the money you have to spend and that's where your Travel Agent will prove to be invaluable. Working together we can get you a great cruise at a price with which you can live.
So, am I going to tell you not to book your own cruise or resort vacation online. . . no, I am not. I am going to ask you, "Why you would want to book your own cruise or resort vacation when you could have the help of an expert without any additional cost." After all, booking is a mechanical process but selecting the right destination, duration and kind of trip for your needs at a price within your budget is another story.
By the way, not all Travel Agents work in a Travel Agency Store Front Business. In fact some of the best Travel Professionals I know actually work from their home offices. I know, I myself, now do most of my work from my home. When looking for a quality Home Based Travel Agent look for the OSSN logo. This indicates that they belong to an association of professional travel agents committed to continuously improving their skills. Remember, the internet is for looking but the travel agent is for making a choice and then booking your vacation.