You can find almost anything on the internet, but when it comes to making travel plans, some of the best deals may be found offline. Ray Hennessey, Editor of SmartMoney.com, has some tips.
This summer, your travel savior may not be one of those travel deal websites. Hennessey suggests you should consider consulting a travel agent. Not only will you get the in-person experience that you can't get from a website, travel agents can be more sensitive to your travel needs. Instead of just punching in some general information about your family members, a travel agent can tailor a trip to you.
When visiting a travel agent, it's important to be specific. In order to get a custom-designed trip, you'll need to tell them exactly what you're looking for. "Say you're traveling with small kids... If you go online, it'll say, 'We have a kids club,' but it may be geared more towards teens than somebody who's three to five," says Hennessey. Travel agents are experts on your vacation destination and will find a resort that will make everyone in your family happy.
However, just because you're not booking your trip online doesn't mean you can't do your homework first. When you visit your travel agent, go prepared. Be sure to research how much a trip will cost you before you make an appointment. "Now, with a lot of these online [websites], [the agents] are competing more and more on price," says Hennessey. This gives you room to negotiate a price that may seem too high.
Be careful, though, when it comes to travel agent fees. "They'll tack on these extra fees for booking your airline ticket, etc.," says Hennessey. What agents used to make in commission, they are now making up for in extra fees. But just like the price of the trip, fees too, are negotiable.
Looking for a travel agent? You could always go online, but sometimes a good old fashioned phone book can get the job done just as well.
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By Erin Petrun
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.