A Travel Agent
The Facts and Perceptions
Story courtesy of South
A Travel Agent The Facts and Perceptions South Coast
Magazine Question & Answer A travel agent gives personal
service, just like you get regularly from your hairdresser,
doctor, lawyer, mechanic, etc. Once you find one that
provides the service you want and need, it is a lasting
using a travel agent, you can go on vacation and understand
exactly what you're getting.
not worth saving $20 and coming back disappointed
because you didn't get what you were expecting - something
heard all the time.
Many times a travel agent can get things less expensive
due to the many resources they have at their fingertips.
Coast Magazine talked to George Aballi, who belongs
to an organization called the NEST (Network of Entrepreneurs
Selling Travel). There are over 300 home-based travel
agents and they have relationships with the major
suppliers. The NEST offers these travel agents a wide
variety of preferred suppliers, including cruise lines,
tour operators, hotels and resorts.
A travel agent can match up travelers with the vacation
that is right for them. He and his staff build a relationship
with their clients, they learn their interests and
lifestyles, as well as their dispositions.
They share the experience and knowledge they accumulate
about a variety of travel topics, from where to eat,
where to shop, and what to pack. There are 10 well-traveled
agents in Aballi's office, and chances are that wherever
your destination is, they have been there.
Why should you pay a travel agent?
You don't! The travel industry pays travel agents
for their services. You do not pay extra for a travel
package if you use a travel agent. The hotels, rental
car companies, tour operators, and cruise lines pay
travel agents a commission on the sale. This is not
an additional amount you have to pay. It is in the
same price as if you booked it with the company yourself,
and you then have a free personal travel consultant.
if you have been to the land destination or cruise
ship before and know exactly what room or cabin you
want to stay in, it's better for you to call us and
have us book it in case there is a problem. Again,
there is no fee for our services.
What is the biggest challenge of being a travel agent?
Connection To Cruise:
The internet. It has built a perception that "going
online" will save you money. The truth is there are
many companies who will ONLY deal with travel agents.
If you have problems arise, you can be in trouble.
Many people have purchased vacation packages over
the internet and don't even know exactly what they
have purchased. What do you do when you have name
changes, no insurance, medical problems just weeks
before you leave? The travel agent serves as the consumer's
advocate in the event something inadvertently goes
companies and land destinations don't bite the hand
that feeds them. We (travel agents) place all our
customers with them, and we do all the work. They
appreciate that. It's not in their best interest to
offer cheaper fares to the general public. As an example,
90 percent of everyone on a cruise ship has booked
through a travel agent. In fact, when you are placed
on "hold" calling a major cruise line, their message
recommends using a travel agent.
role as a travel agent is beneficial to both the travel
industry and our customers. We add to the client's
experience by sending a bottle of wine, a gift, provide
a special land package, a specific escort, or other
customer amenities. Our goal as YOUR personalized
agent is to provide a service beyond belief and customize
your vacation just for YOU.
It's unusual to see a travel agent at the Orange County
Market Place (swap meet).
Yes, it is. We are home-based travel agents, and saw
a tremendous opportunity to be out in front of so
many people that we decided to come out and try it.
There are over 1000 vendors selling everything from
warm roasted peanuts to beautiful exotic cars and
they average 10,000 people a day coming to visit.
Are you able to book vacations from there?
Yes, we have a laptop computer with internet access
to live inventory and real time prices right there.
We also have a short questionnaire that visitors fill
out requesting quotes for their vacations.
Do you sell only cruises?
No, we are travel agents. We sell all vacations, land
How long have you been coming to the Orange County
About three years now, and I'm always at the same
location # E-168. We now have many repeat customers
that we met when we first started.
South Coast Magazine:
How did you get into the travel business?
My background is and has always been in customer service
and sales. I owned two very successful magazines,
and I sold advertising to realtors who advertised
their homes for sale for over 20 years. My wife, Marlys,
has been a travel agent for 28 years, and when I sold
the magazines it was a natural thing for me to partner
with her and build upon her already successful travel
South Coast Magazine:
Do you get to travel often?
Connection To Cruise:
Yes we are very fortunate. I have been on 49 cruises
and have my 50th scheduled this September - a 14-night
to Europe. This is a great advantage to our customers.
I have sailed on most categories of ships, so it helps
matching the customer to the ship and itinerary.