Why are travel agents so unreliable?

First off, not all travel agents are unreliable, but

  1. The good agents only handle calls from new prospects after they are done serving their existing client base. If they’re really good, that might be a long time.
  2. The bad agents… Well, that’s self-explanatory.

As far as the unreliable agents, I can definitely tell you why you’re not getting calls back in a timely fashion. 9 out of 10 times, here’s is the typical interaction travel agents have to deal with when dealing with new customers.

  1. Customer has their sights set on [Insert City Here] (Breaking JGOOT rule #1)
  2. Customer needs to go on a specific dates and has little to no flexibility on those dates (Breaking JGOOT rule #2)
  3. Customer searches online and is shocked that they can’t find flights for less than $600. (Breaking JGOOT rule #3)
  4. Customer calls travel agent thinking agent can find better
  5. Agent spends significant time finding $550 fares (because they’re good, but they’re not miracle workers)
  6. Customer decides $550 is too expensive so they decide not to go and don’t return the agent’s call ever again

When that happens 9 out of 10 times, travel agents are forced to deal with the most realistic callers first, and everyone else later (if ever). It’s not the best system, but considering the high volumes of people who only call agents because they’re only finding expensive trips due to the restrictive nature of their itinerary – I can’t say I blame them.

By the way – I’m not a travel agent, and you can book all trips I share directly online without the use of a travel agent.

If you’re uncomfortable booking trips online, I recommend researching on Google or Yelp to find a reputable agent near you.  Any good agent should be able to book any trip you find on my website for you if you simply give them the appropriate details. (Be aware that most agents are free to use for international flights, but they might charge a small retainer fee for domestic flights.)

Questions? Please feel free to comment below.

Closed for MLK weekend

I hope you’re enjoying your 3-day weekend!

In honor of practicing what I preach, I’m going to take the next few days off to recharge my batteries here in Turks & Caicos.

I’ll “see” you again on Wednesday.

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My Annual Shopping Spree at Dillard’s

For the past 7 or 8 years I’ve gone shopping on Jan 1 at Dillard’s, and I usually buy the majority of my clothes for the year during that one sale.

I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of Dillard’s from a Jan 1 sale with less than 15 items of clothing (usually 20 or 25), and I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than an average of $20 per item that would normally have cost $60 to $100.

Even better, because they have so many name-brands to choose from, I can be 10 times more discerning than any other time of the year when shopping for clothing.

  • $60 Levi’s jeans for $20? Not when I can get $150 Armanis for $28
  • Dress shirts I buy range from $12 to $26 and I only buy brands people don’t bat an eye at paying $50 to $120 for any other day of the year.
  • I rarely even bother giving my kids clothes for Christmas any more because I know I won’t find a better deal than what I find for them on Jan 1.

As I was walking out of the store feeling like Santa with a bag of goodies bigger than me slung over my shoulder, I realized something…

Finding a good deal on vacations is a lot like shopping.  

Sure, you can find flights to Cabo like everyone else does, and you can pay what everyone thinks is a good price. Or…

  • If you can be flexible on where you want to go,
    • you could find flights and an all-inclusive resort in Cancun for the exact same price.
    • you could fly to Belize or Aruba and stay for 7 nights for even less than a flight alone to cabo.
    • Depending on how long you’ve got for a vacation, you could spend even less for flights and lodging for a couple weeks in Europe or Asia.
  • Much like buying summer clothes during winter sales, if you plan vacation time around when you find an amazing deal (vs hoping to find an amazing deal between July 1 and July 10) – you can save a ton. (That only works if you plan ahead though.)
  • Decide to try a new credit card once a year in return for 50,000 or 100,000 frequent flyer points, and the game changes even more.

I don’t care if you use my premium email alert service, or a mashup of my free service and a dozen others…

Make the following 3 things a priority and I promise — you’ll save more on your next vacation than you ever thought possible.

  1. Don’t plan trips around vacation time… Plan ahead and schedule vacation time around trips that are too good not to go on.
  2. Plan 6 to 12 months ahead
  3. Be flexible on where you’re willing to go.

(Extra credit): Get a new credit card, and save the bonus miles for a rainy day. (Not 5, not 10. Just throw your old card in a drawer (after paying off the balance) and get a new card with a 40,000 to 100,000 point signup bonus. You never know when those miles will come in handy, but it only works if you plan ahead. (You know what they say about planting a tree…)