Travel Agents, Part 2

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Another blog post from Mr. Deals…

Well, I sure stirred up a bit of anger last weekend. That was in no way my intention, but after re-reading the post I don’t blame folks in the industry for getting upset with me. So first off, an apology. In no way did I mean to put down the profession of being a travel agent. The amount of work it takes to plan a trip and ultimately an experience can be overwhelming for some. I for one am guilty of not giving Mrs. Deals enough credit for some of the trips she puts together for us. The service some of these professionals offer is invaluable and my guess is they often don’t get the credit they deserve after putting together some amazing vacations for their clients. Travel agents out there, I want you to know there is not hate from Mr. Deals. I will clarify the situation from last week a bit further.

The trip in question last week was one that Mrs. Deals and I had just taken to Israel. My mom was heading there and staying in a lot of the same places that Mrs. Deals and I had just experienced. We had been able to do it economically and at the same time stay in really good locations to the major city/country attractions. The gripe I was having with my mom going through a travel agent came out of a couple of factors.

The travel agent her friend was using was not getting any sort of deal on the hotels, if anything, Mrs. Deals was pulling up better prices on rooms. Right there I saw that as a red flag, especially when a simple search showed better rates. If anything you would hope that the agent would want to show some savings against publicly available pricing on the internet.

Money aside, the biggest factor here was that the travel agent had really no experience planning trips to Israel and did not seek out help from others in their network. Some of the locations for hotels that were being suggested were downright dangerous. That’s a bit concerning when you are relying on someone to create a phenomenal experience for  you. Now I’m not sure how it works in the industry, but I would imagine travel agents do share tips with one another or at least can admit when a certain area is not their expertise. This is where my view got really soured unfortunately.

Of course, this is an isolated incident, but I will say I think that when using a travel agent it is very important to do your own homework, be it asking friends, co-workers, scanning the internet and even reaching out to some travel bloggers. The last thing anyone wants is a bad vacation.

As the second in command in my household when it comes to travel, I know that Mrs. Deals will lead the charge in trip planning. I only get to step up when it involves a snowboarding adventure.

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    • @HansGolden – We aren’t sure exactly as we weren’t the ones communicating with the travel agent. But my mother-in-law has been to Israel 3 or 4 times and knew that wasn’t an area she would be comfortable walking around by herself at night. They were not dangerous areas per se, just not the common area that US tourists stay. And yes, the fact that she has been that many of times in the past few years makes it even worse that she went the travel agent route!

  1. I just came back from Israel yesterday, US Airways business Envoy , i was born there and there 4 or 5 times a year, a pretty long flight that is tough in economy .
    By saying hotels in dangerous areas if you give me some names i can give you my feedback, i know the whole country as good as any local.

  2. I can’t remember some of the hotels that were suggested but this travel agent was doing it by cheap hotels instead of by area. I know when I looked on the map the hotels were in the Arab quarters and I did feel uncomfortable as I will be there alone part of the time waiting for my husband who is doing a bike fundraiser. I wanted a place where I would be comfortable. I asked another Israeli friend about the hotels and she said not to stay so I was comfortable saying no. I asked my daughter in law to figure it out for me instead so she did. I then gave the agent the hotels to look at. My daughter in law got better prices then she did. It’s been interesting planning this trip. As my son said the agent had never been to Israel before so she knew nothing. I would have expected her to use a contact but she did not.
    All that matters is that I am going! I got great deals from Mrs. Deals and I’d very happy!

  3. MIL, I guess it depends if you’re Jewish. If I was Jewish, I would probably be uncomfortable in Arab areas too. But as a non-Jewish American, the Arab areas are just as safe as the Israeli ones (maybe even a bit safer since chance of terrorist attack is lower), generally speaking. At least IME (which is on the thin side, but I did live 5 months in a life that most Jewish Israelis never see, being that I was living in Jerusalem with Palestinians and teaching them English).

    • @HansGolden – That sounds like a very cool experience. I get what you are saying with being uncomfortable vs. not and totally agree. I was able to get my mother-in-law a great rate at the Prima Kings hotel.

  4. I expertise in Israel and always can beat the online rates in any hotel. If anyone needs any help they are more than welcome to contact me

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