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Online travel agencies I can trust?

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Old 06-28-2016, 04:05 PM
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Default Online travel agencies I can trust?

I'm fortunate to have gotten to a place where I can afford better quality vacations, but of course I still seek value. Previously it was easy - pick the cheapest option and hope for the best. As my price point has moved up to moderately expensive, I have to worry a lot more about being ripped off. (I.e., you pay for a 4 star hotel as part of a package, they say it's booked - they already knew it would be booked - then put you in a three star, and then try to make you pay to upgrade to another 4 star!)

Unfortunately it's basically impossible to comparison shop travel with all the different permutations of flights, hotels, dates, etc. So I need an outfit I can trust to give me a good value for my money, put my interests as a priority, and not look at me as a mark and a fool. I'm looking to build a relationship because I hope to travel a few times per year now.

I'm sure there's plenty of forum users here who go on decent vacations overseas... Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old 06-28-2016, 05:42 PM
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My good friend is one of the best high end travel agents on the east coast. If you want his number, let me know.
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Old 06-28-2016, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Crazy Fingers View Post

Unfortunately it's basically impossible to comparison shop travel with all the different permutations of flights, hotels, dates, etc. .
Why ? between all the online sourcing I find it easier than ever to plan travel and get the best pricing available ....

Kayak, Hotel.com, Bookings.com, Trivago, etc.... always cross check directly with the source ..

But if you need a TA I use http://www.protravelinc.com
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Old 06-28-2016, 06:04 PM
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For Europe I have an excellent one.
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Old 06-28-2016, 06:52 PM
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The cheapest way to travel is to book directly with the hotel, airline, rental car company you plan to use. You won't get lower rates on any travel site.
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Old 06-28-2016, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by triplenet View Post
Why ? between all the online sourcing I find it easier than ever to plan travel and get the best pricing available ....

Kayak, Hotel.com, Bookings.com, Trivago, etc.... always cross check directly with the source ..

But if you need a TA I use http://www.protravelinc.com
It may be easy to compare flights or hotels, but when you start looking at vacation packages it's really tough. Start adding included meals and it's even worse. "Includes 4 dinners with wine" - well that could be worth $80 or $1000+, depends on what we are eating. Included excursions and side trips are the same way. Add the transfers in, what's they really worth? Sometimes they are cheap and sometimes transfers can be ridiculously expensive. Go research cab fares from this airport to whatever hotel, Then compare to the cab fare from the airport to a different hotel.

I just don't have time or energy to worry about that crap. I don't want to plan every detail. I just want to go on trips where I can be somewhat confident I am getting a good value.
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Old 06-28-2016, 08:51 PM
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Depending on where you are going... the only real travel agency I have ever used was for my honeymoon and I used http://south-seas-adventures.com/

I have also used costco travel with good luck. Otherwise, I enjoy doing the research myself and use tripadviser pretty much for most of it.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Crazy Fingers View Post
It may be easy to compare flights or hotels, but when you start looking at vacation packages it's really tough. Start adding included meals and it's even worse. "Includes 4 dinners with wine" - well that could be worth $80 or $1000+, depends on what we are eating. Included excursions and side trips are the same way. Add the transfers in, what's they really worth? Sometimes they are cheap and sometimes transfers can be ridiculously expensive. Go research cab fares from this airport to whatever hotel, Then compare to the cab fare from the airport to a different hotel.
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I don't buy packages nor travel that way .... Good luck
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ThreeLittleFish View Post
The cheapest way to travel is to book directly with the hotel, airline, rental car company you plan to use. You won't get lower rates on any travel site.
In many cases this is true, however I just had the opposite recently. I have Hilton HHonor Diamond status - the highest they offer because I stay with them so much. I have a wedding that I'm attending up in Canada from July 4th - 11th, and they wanted $404 per night for a room. I got the same hotel, room level, etc. for $218 per night with Booking.com. I even called my special HHonors Diamond phone number to ask if they'd honor the booking.com rate, and they said no.

Only thing is I won't get Hilton HHonors points for the stay. I'll keep the $1,400 instead.
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by ThreeLittleFish View Post
The cheapest way to travel is to book directly with the hotel, airline, rental car company you plan to use. You won't get lower rates on any travel site.
Not always true. Many times, the provider (hotel, car, airline, etc) has a negotiated agreement with the OTA (Online Travel Agency) which may even preclude them from offering the same rate. Stupid? Yes but still true.

I use Hotwire almost exclusively for car rentals. Never once found a cheaper rate directly from a company. Last trip I got a BMW 3 series for $157/week one way from PHX to LAS. About $9 more than an economy car from anywhere else.

Same trip, on HotelTonight I booked the Hard Rock for less than $40/nt.

My favorite flights site is google.com/flights - I find excellent deals there all the time.
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:26 AM
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Hotel Tonight is great...... I use it all the time....

Example; I was in Chatham last year visiting a friend - Chatham Bars Resort was $800 a night ...

Hotels tonight had the same suite for $399 - the hotel of course would not match it .....

last minute booking is great if you can handle the uncertainty ....
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:31 AM
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Priceline Express deals can be really good deals. Worth a look.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by crazybeard View Post
Not always true. Many times, the provider (hotel, car, airline, etc) has a negotiated agreement with the OTA (Online Travel Agency) which may even preclude them from offering the same rate. Stupid? Yes but still true.
Just had this happen on a drive from Florida to Pa. We were stopping in Virgina for the night so the wife was looking for a pet friendly hotel using the iPhone. She found one on Orbitz for around a hundred dollars. She called the hotel directly, and their 800 number for the best rate and the Orbitz price was still $30 cheaper. Orbitz got the sale.
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Old 06-29-2016, 11:10 AM
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Interesting topic.

I always thought it was best to book myself via internet.

One of my neighbors (large business owner) said he felt the way until an agent (another neighbor) arranged a trip. He told me that the agent got better pricing and wonderful upgrades at hotels for a lot less that he would have paid himself.

I think for my next trip I'll try it both ways and see if it works out.
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Old 06-29-2016, 11:35 AM
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I travel pretty extensively and do all my own booking. It's too easy to use a travel agent. Unless you're looking for a packaged trip, this is the best method. Use google flights for air and kayak most everything else. Then, before booking I double check with the hotel and car rental place directly before but usually the 3rd party booking sites are a bit cheaper.
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Old 06-29-2016, 11:47 AM
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ultimatejetvacations.com if you're looking at Islands/Caribbean destination.

You can browse their site and see the Islands/resorts they affiliate with...higher end spots.

I went to Anguilla and used them...it was fantastic, everything was set up taken care of. I couldn't have done it cheaper had I gone direct. Not sure if they get kick backs or better rates...but it worked out. A friend is good friends with one of the agents...Byron Rounds 305-830-0200 x 460
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Old 06-29-2016, 12:02 PM
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American Express Platinum membership
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Old 06-29-2016, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Classic25 View Post
Just had this happen on a drive from Florida to Pa. We were stopping in Virgina for the night so the wife was looking for a pet friendly hotel using the iPhone. She found one on Orbitz for around a hundred dollars. She called the hotel directly, and their 800 number for the best rate and the Orbitz price was still $30 cheaper. Orbitz got the sale.
I had it happen at a hotel. Walked in, asked them for their best rate. $150 or something. Told them I found it on hotels.com on my phone, which I showed them for less - $30/40 can't remember exactly - and they said they couldn't match the rate. I stepped away, booked the room and then walked back to check in.

It is asinine they agree to this. Expedia is the worst OTA offender at it too - they can do it because of the volume. Take up to 40% commission or more and don't allow the hotel itself to match their rates. But, they drive the volume so they have the leverage to negotiate it.

Here are their brands: http://www.expediainc.com/expedia-brands/

Plus they own others, like TripAdvisor. Some estimate them to be controlling around 75% marketshare in the OTA world.
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Old 06-29-2016, 03:00 PM
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Instead of travelling you need to use your free time to catch up on maintenance around the house and yard work.
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Old 06-29-2016, 03:36 PM
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If you are going to be doing overseas travel a few times a year and you're willing to pay for quality service you should consider indagare.com.
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