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Travel Agent - Am I being unfair?


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I'm wondering if I'm expecting too much from my TA.  I've been unhappy because it seems to take forever for me to get responses to any questions or concerns that I have for the TA.  And this has been since the beginning of 2019 when I originally scheduled my now cancelled Symphony cruise in August!  So it's not because of the situation with cruising today.  I figured a day or 2 seems reasonable for a response, but I'm talking weeks go by with nothing.  

As soon as RCCL cancelled my cruise, I told the TA we want the FCC, so she said she's taking care of that.  So I've made a decision on the cruise I want to book and I sent a message to the TA on Monday, 6/29,  to ask how this works.  Do I book it with another cash deposit in order to get the cruise and room type that I want (bookings are going fast!) or should I be waiting for the FCC? etc.  As of yet, I have had no response.  It's only been 2 days, but I'm worried about not being able to get a booking if I wait much longer.  Do you think I'm being unfair to her?

Also - do any of you use any of the TA's that I see on youtube?  Just wondering if anyone uses any of them and what they think?

 

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Hey I feel for you, we have had 5 cruises cancelled since April and two more For this year are not looking good at this time, however, my TA, Michelle at MEI has been right on it every time. Realizing the burden all this has put on all TA’s I’ve been amazed that she always replies to my requests within a couple of hours or less. She is amazing and I highly recommend her if you want quick, accurate and up to date information. Although this situation is hard on everyone it’s sure nice to have someone like her in your corner. 

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Ask 10 people on this message board and 11 will give you the name of their MEI agent (Kathy here), there is a reason we all cherish their service, quick responses to simple email inquires is one of many.

I'm not sure how FCC work with agents, whether they have control or you, however if there was a cruise / room that I wanted, I wouldn't wait for a FCC, I'd put down the cash and apply the FCC after.

Not sure which agent(s) you're talking about on YouTube but Danny from Harr Travel does some awesome walk-through's / tours of ships, rooms, CocoCay, etc... However, I'm sticking with my MEI agent. 

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22 hours ago, Deb826 said:

I'm wondering if I'm expecting too much from my TA.  I've been unhappy because it seems to take forever for me to get responses to any questions or concerns that I have for the TA.  And this has been since the beginning of 2019 when I originally scheduled my now cancelled Symphony cruise in August!  So it's not because of the situation with cruising today.  I figured a day or 2 seems reasonable for a response, but I'm talking weeks go by with nothing.  

As soon as RCCL cancelled my cruise, I told the TA we want the FCC, so she said she's taking care of that.  So I've made a decision on the cruise I want to book and I sent a message to the TA on Monday, 6/29,  to ask how this works.  Do I book it with another cash deposit in order to get the cruise and room type that I want (bookings are going fast!) or should I be waiting for the FCC? etc.  As of yet, I have had no response.  It's only been 2 days, but I'm worried about not being able to get a booking if I wait much longer.  Do you think I'm being unfair to her?

Also - do any of you use any of the TA's that I see on youtube?  Just wondering if anyone uses any of them and what they think?

 

First of all, if you are unhappy with the service you got on the original booking, I recommend that you change Agencies for the rebooking.  The FCC is in your name, not the Agency’s, so if you want to change you can. I certainly would !

You should have gotten an email from Royal with the certificate names, amounts, and numbers from the cancelled booking. That’s all you need to get started on the rebooking.  If you didn’t get that information, call Royal and request it. Just leave the bad Agency in the dust. 

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13 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

First of all, if you are unhappy with the service you got on the origin booking, I recommend that you change Agencies for the rebooking.  The FCC is in your name, not the Agency’s, so if you want to change you can. I certainly would !

You should have gotten an email from Royal with the certificate names, amounts, and numbers from the cancelled booking. That’s all you need to get started on the rebooking.  If you didn’t get that information, call Royal and request it. Just leave the bad Agency in the dust. 

Just chiming in to say that this is absolutely 100% the correct answer.

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22 hours ago, Deb826 said:

I've been unhappy because it seems to take forever for me to get responses to any questions or concerns that I have for the TA

Quick question, can you provide your TA's average response time? Are we talking hours? Days? Weeks?

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22 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

First of all, if you are unhappy with the service you got on the original booking, I recommend that you change Agencies for the rebooking.  The FCC is in your name, not the Agency’s, so if you want to change you can. I certainly would !

You should have gotten an email from Royal with the certificate names, amounts, and numbers from the cancelled booking. That’s all you need to get started on the rebooking.  If you didn’t get that information, call Royal and request it. Just leave the bad Agency in the dust. 

I totally agree with @WAAAYTOOO. Not sure why you would want to rebook with a TA that you have been unhappy with for a long time. As @sk8erguy1978mentioned, there are a lot of happy people here with the service they have received from MEI. 

Happy cruising!

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I left a bad one in the dust my first sailing with RCCL, the MEI (Sharla Manglass) difference was beyond compare. I found her because of our friends on this blog! Even with this terrible situation, my  TA Sharla  is working harder then ever before and essentially.....for free until we sail again. 

I received another cancellation as well as my FCC and Sharla contacted me even before I contacted her. I can't say enough about this amazing patient professional woman. 

When we sail and we will, when nobody knows, I am making sure to let her know her kindness to our family was gift enough and while they usually leave a cabin "gift" I want her to just wish us well, nothing more as her time and energy was just priceless! Happy transition, run for the hills (or seas) Be safe and stay healthy!

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1 hour ago, Neesa said:

 

When we sail and we will, when nobody knows, I am making sure to let her know her kindness to our family was gift enough and while they usually leave a cabin "gift" I want her to just wish us well, nothing more as her time and energy was just priceless! Happy transition, run for the hills (or seas) Be safe and stay healthy!

As a retiring t/a (not tied to MEI ;>) I think this was wonderful!

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On 7/1/2020 at 9:31 AM, BarbieBell said:

Hey I feel for you, we have had 5 cruises cancelled since April and two more For this year are not looking good at this time, however, my TA, Michelle at MEI has been right on it every time. Realizing the burden all this has put on all TA’s I’ve been amazed that she always replies to my requests within a couple of hours or less. She is amazing and I highly recommend her if you want quick, accurate and up to date information. Although this situation is hard on everyone it’s sure nice to have someone like her in your corner. 

I also use Michelle.  I had three cruises booked and she has helped me navigate each one.  She is responsive to the point of even telling me she is unable to help at that moment but can the next day.  Most of these changes I made in advance of any cancellation and yet she still found the time to help.  She has also been a superstar navigating the ever changing interpretations from Royal.  Thank you Michelle!

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On 7/1/2020 at 10:18 AM, Deb826 said:

Also - do any of you use any of the TA's that I see on youtube?  Just wondering if anyone uses any of them and what they think?

 

I'm not sure I'd trust a TA that I find on YouTube.  But that's just me.  I'm not a fan of giving just anyone my credit card information, date of birth, etc...

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On 7/1/2020 at 9:42 PM, sk8erguy1978 said:

Ask 10 people on this message board and 11 will give you the name of their MEI agent (Kathy here), there is a reason we all cherish their service, quick responses to simple email inquires is one of many.

I'm not sure how FCC work with agents, whether they have control or you, however if there was a cruise / room that I wanted, I wouldn't wait for a FCC, I'd put down the cash and apply the FCC after.

Not sure which agent(s) you're talking about on YouTube but Danny from Harr Travel does some awesome walk-through's / tours of ships, rooms, CocoCay, etc... However, I'm sticking with my MEI agent. 

Kathy for me she has been great MEI

John 😀

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A few words on the subject of arranging a cruise and using a TA to do that.

First, once you go down that road, you're stuck with the agency and agent you chose to do that. I don't need to tell posters here that the cruise lines won't talk with you about changing a reservation if you booked with a TA.

Reputation is everything in the TA and agency world. This blog is a great place to learn who has earned their chops. I can't speak for MEI but I can for several others that I've used. I tend to go with whatever consolidator - and make no mistake  TAs work for agencies that are just that - is offering the best cabin price and perks for the itinerary I'm considering. The differences in these two things can be mind boggling between agencies. In my experience, the bigger and more successful an agency is in selling out the cabins cruise lines have given them, the deeper the discount the lines will provide next time, the more leeway that agency has in pricing and perks they offer customers. There's obviously a relationship between top sales for an agency and the agents selling. Good agents sell cabins.

You can get quotes from various agencies/TAs working for them and compare prices and perks - these are perks the agency is offering for you to book with them, not the cruise line's perks. Then go from there. For me, pricing is more important than service and that may not be the case for everyone. Accordingly, I tend to be a bit more patient with TAs although the ones I use now (Delta SkyMiles Cruises, Costco Travel and Cruises-n-More) I have relationships with TAs that work for these agencies ..... all of them recognize that I price shop and are not at all discouraged when I say a found a better deal. They'll say, I can't beat that or, if they can, they will tell me. I always get call backs or an email within 72h at the longest from all of them.

Times right now are, to say the least, taxing. I'm juggling 5 cruises over the next 12 months and with different TAs/Agencies. And I'm only one guy with 5 cruises. Think about the TA's situation ..... he/she might have dozens of customers and is handling 100s of itineraries for both new bookings while dealing with the perfect storm inherent in COVID caused FCC, L&S and refunds. Patience should be your byword. OTH, the times you are experiencing for a call back from your TA seems to be an outlier. Maybe consider looking elsewhere to book your next cruise. PM me and I'll send you names of the TAs I've found to be pretty good within the agencies I've booked with.   

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Lots of good input from everyone, thank you!  It has now been over a week and still no response from my TA on what was a very basic quick answer question.  I'm done!  Well actually, I decided I was done on Saturday.  I took a look at MEI, and ended up sending a message to one of the agents I've seen suggested here.  I immediately received a response from a different agent - but hey, it was July 4th and frankly I was shocked to get any response at all!  Her response included pricing for what I was looking for with different room categories, and then a list of information I would need to provide if I wanted her to move forward with booking the cruise.  She explained the FCC to me for the cruise that was just cancelled and what I should expect and then said she could do a courtesy hold on a cruise, etc.

I was floored!  I have more information now than I did in the year and a half I was working with the previous TA, about my cruise.  I booked it and am feeling very comfortable that she'll be there to help me and answer any questions or concerns I have.

Just to be clear - the issues I've been experiencing with my former TA were not related to Covid-19.  This has been the situation from the beginning and I just didn't know any better - didn't realize that it shouldn't be that way.  Now I do!  

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7 hours ago, crisgold52 said:

And while I cannot speak for MEI which is a sponsor of this forum and comes highly recommended I know that their pricing is in USD and Canadians like myself would not use them due to high credit card conversion rates and fees. 

I cannot say the same. I am Canadian and every cruise we have taken (other than our first) we have paid for in US funds. All my past TAs, and my current one, are from the US. When I book direct with Royal, I also pay in USD. 
 

We have a US credit card and we find that we save by converting money locally, at a lower rate, rather than letting Royal or Canadian credit card companies convert it. 

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43 minutes ago, crisgold52 said:

But RCL can book and price in any currency such as GBP CAD AUD SGD USD etc.

Yes they can. But for us it always ends up to be cheaper if we pay in USD and convert the money on our own. So there are ways around it if a Canadian wanted to use a US based TA.

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15 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

We have a US credit card and we find that we save by converting money locally, at a lower rate, rather than letting Royal or Canadian credit card companies convert it. 

My in-laws (who live in Canada) do this as well.

They even go so far as having a checking account over here for things such as sending the grand kids checks for birthdays and shopping when they visit.

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On 7/1/2020 at 9:18 AM, Deb826 said:

I'm wondering if I'm expecting too much from my TA.  I've been unhappy because it seems to take forever for me to get responses to any questions or concerns that I have for the TA.  And this has been since the beginning of 2019 when I originally scheduled my now cancelled Symphony cruise in August!  So it's not because of the situation with cruising today.  I figured a day or 2 seems reasonable for a response, but I'm talking weeks go by with nothing.  

As soon as RCCL cancelled my cruise, I told the TA we want the FCC, so she said she's taking care of that.  So I've made a decision on the cruise I want to book and I sent a message to the TA on Monday, 6/29,  to ask how this works.  Do I book it with another cash deposit in order to get the cruise and room type that I want (bookings are going fast!) or should I be waiting for the FCC? etc.  As of yet, I have had no response.  It's only been 2 days, but I'm worried about not being able to get a booking if I wait much longer.  Do you think I'm being unfair to her?

Also - do any of you use any of the TA's that I see on youtube?  Just wondering if anyone uses any of them and what they think?

 

We use 2 agents (when not booking ourselves)   One is an agent who I noticed on Youtube and the pitch made pushed me to give him a try. First cruise went well, was very responsive, able to give us a little OBC,   Using him for second for a Nov cruise (if it happens),and again, was able to get us a little OBC that our non-Youtube agent could not.   We're operating under strange times, so lots of churn with cancellations, bumps, L&S, FCC etc .  I haven't had a cancellation (yet) so informed on how he'll operate under distressed situations.  We haven't had to have those phone calls for contingency planning.  We've had very good luck so far, but with the stuff that's going on - who knows.

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14 hours ago, crisgold52 said:

So I booked by now cancelled April cruise with a TA all because I thought the Studio Inventory was only available to TA's hence I went this route instead. Never again, and since I am in Canada, MEI services do not work for me as they charge in USD and paying in CAD makes more sense.

Anyways  long story short is my TA was VERY responsive initially up to closing the deal and securing the initial deposit. She then went AWOL and disregarded all future attempts at contact regarding specific options and reservations. Sometimes a week without reply to emails or voice mails (which is why I prefer not using a TA since I love having logistics control myself and RCL grants far too much power to a TA and won't discuss financials or any aspects of the booking with the passenger unless the passenger 'pretends to be a TA')...

Long story short, easiest way to get a hold of my TA was with payments. Email her or voice mail her saying 'I'm going to make a payment' and voila, never before have I ever seen such a fast response, literally 15 minutes phone call for a credit card #.

Any other time requests about dining times or  transfers and so on, AWOL. The the pandemic hits and cruises start being cancelled. AWOL as usual. I text her regarding making new booking and voila, 15 minutes and phone call again. After that when I attempt to get FCC's or taxes refunded, AWOL as usual, leaving me in the lurch.

Then I want to make a new payment towards a second booking and BAM, a quick return phone call within 15 minutes. Always seems to be the trend, more interested in processing payments than assisting with anything else. This is why I don't jive well with TA's anymore and I tend to avoid the cruise line's in house vacation planners as well since their bookings are also treated as TA bookings.

 

 

 

 I'm kind of feeling the same way about my current travel agent I have with this automotive association I pay for each year here in America.

 This is the third agent the local office has had in the last 2 years. The first agent was great, helped me out bigtime on my Oasis of the Seas cruise,  but left for health reasons. The second was also good, but also left, why I do not know. But now this current one, I have to stay on top of in order to hear back from.

 I booked my Harmony of the Seas cruise on my own in April and wanted it transferred to them. Managed to get a hold of this new travel agent and gave the info. Didn't hear back from anyone after 10 days, emailed the agent and got an apology saying that they didn't start the transfer process yet, but started it that day. Granted the office was closed in April due to you know what and everyone there was working from home and probably very busy so I'll give them that one.  My latest cruise for April, 2022 I also booked myself (it was the end result of a lift & shift that I did all on my own). Made an appointment last month (the office was by then re-opened) and went there to see the travel agent in person to ask a few questions pertaining to my other cruises and give them the new cruise to take over. Over 2 weeks later and I have not heard from anyone again. Emailed them this past Tuesday to ask WTF (no I didn't say or write that, but you know what I mean 😁), and still have not heard back from them. I'm going to have to visit the office again next week (this time I'm gonna just show up) to find out what's up unless of course I hear back from them. 

 Don't these travel agents get the credit even for cruises they didn't actually book themselves, but were booked by their clients then transferred? This particular travel agency is one of the services this association offers that I'm paying for out of my yearly membership, and I've been a member since I started driving way before the turn of the century. If they don't want to be bothered getting paid to wait on hold with Royal (or emailing them) to do a transfer then just say it. I'll be disappointed, but keep my membership for I use them for other things, and then I'll try another travel agent who may actually care about their clients.

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16 hours ago, crisgold52 said:

This is why I don't jive well with TA's anymore and I tend to avoid the cruise line's in house vacation planners as well since their bookings are also treated as TA bookings.

You have made it very clear in all your posts that you dislike TAs.  However, it sounds like you let one bad experience turn you off from all others.  You dealt with a lemon of a TA, that much is certain.  It's not fair to paint all TAs with the same brush though.  

I am Type A to a fault.  It's in my nature and I have to be so in my job.  The Type A nature never goes off, so I know what you mean when you say that you want control over your reservation.  It does bother me as well at times when I cannot get full access because I have booked with a TA.

A bit about my background, I too am Canadian like you.  In my 18 years or so of booking cruises, I have gone every route.  I have tried using my local travel agency, booked direct through Royal, booked with Royal Vacation Planners, booked with US based TAs.  There are advantages and disadvantages to all of them, like everything else in life.

This is what I have learned.  Some TAs are flat out awful.  The exact kind that you are talking about, they are prompt for a booking and then go AWOL for all else.  I had booked with those.  Some TAs don't even know much, and you know more than them.  Sadly, I have booked with those as well.  However, if you look hard enough, there are some TAs that are simply wonderful.  And if you let one bad experience (which I have had my share) let that spoil you for all others, then you could be missing out as well.

Wonderful TAs are out there.  They are hard to find, but they exist.  Why would a Type A person like me still use a TA?  Bottom line, it saves me time and money. 

You are right, I know all the numbers and short cuts too to calling Royal.  However, for as much as I know, my TA knows more, and she has deeper connections as a TA that I do not have.  So I could sit there over and over again on the phone or let her fight for me.  The end result with her is that either I get what I would have been able to get by myself, or I actually get more, because she can sometimes work her magic and get rules to be bent.  It's kind of like cruising with a Genie or without.  Could you still have a great vacation without one?  For sure!  But I will choose the Genie every time if possible. 

I also save money in the sense that TA's get deals that the general population cannot get access to.  The trick is that by giving up control, it has to be worth it.  I have been really discouraged too a few times by some lemons out there and also not impressed by those who don't go the extra mile.  But a good TA, a really good one, can make a world of a difference and it is worth giving up the control. 

How is that possible?  Well, for me, it's because my TA is fighter, she hates the word no, and she is more Type A than I am.  But it took me a while to find her.  So what I am saying is that just because you came across one bad one, it doesn't mean they are all like that.

And as far as MEI goes, they are well known for their service and their competence.  As you know, they are also a sponsor of Royal Caribbean Blog.  They help @Matt keep the lights on here.  As you have discovered, not only is this a great community of people, but also a valuable resource for those who love to cruise or are learning to cruise.  As a Canadian, you may personally not prefer to use MEI or other TAs, but again, your situation is one of many, and for many Canadians like myself, it still pays, and then some to use MEI or other US based TAs.

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