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Travel agents; Has anyone done this?


Steve L
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Matt's topic today is the use of travel agents. Since 2014 I had been using a travel agent that I found from a cruise bidding site( they bid on your cruise by throwing in on board credit or perks such as spa or specialty dining) and that has worked well. This year I tried something different. I went through a cashback site (Ebates) that offered 14% cashback (on cyber Monday) for a cruise if you booked on one of the well known online travel sites. Will have to see how this turns out but as it stands for my $3k cruise that would be $420 cashback from Ebates on top of the on board credit kicked in from both Royal and the major online travel site. As a side note I listened to Matt's podcast from two weeks ago about "How to check for price drops" and the cruise specialist at this online travel site got my price down by $524 after I called. No shortcomings there as far as service goes....

Has anyone gone this route or am I the guinea pig here?

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I did ebates with Travelocity for my next trip and get both money back from the cruise and all my hotels I stay at (I say hotels because we jump around. That's why I like cruises.). This is my first time using ebates but I have used other similar ones but heard better things about ebates and they have better offers so went with them. The only part is the wait after for it (i think its 6 weeks.) Even if I do not get it Travelocity was a better deal for my cruise anyways.

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1 hour ago, Steve L said:

Matt's topic today is the use of travel agents. Since 2014 I had been using a travel agent that I found from a cruise bidding site( they bid on your cruise by throwing in on board credit or perks such as spa or specialty dining) and that has worked well. This year I tried something different. I went through a cashback site (Ebates) that offered 14% cashback (on cyber Monday) for a cruise if you booked on one of the well known online travel sites. Will have to see how this turns out but as it stands for my $3k cruise that would be $420 cashback from Ebates on top of the on board credit kicked in from both Royal and the major online travel site. As a side note I listened to Matt's podcast from two weeks ago about "How to check for price drops" and the cruise specialist at this online travel site got my price down by $524 after I called. No shortcomings there as far as service goes....

Has anyone gone this route or am I the guinea pig here?

I've gone on/off with a TA that I initially found from a cruise bidding site.  I check for price drops and call him.  I've had no problems getting prices readjusted ever.  Just a word of caution for people who want to go that route is that you have to know what you are getting into.  The trade off with the steep discounts and extra perks is the sacrifice of service.  I don't mind because I am comfortable managing my own bookings but for others, that might not be the wisest route.

I love Ebates but I have never done travel through them.  It always says things like, "up to 14% off" and then I don't know what the discount is exactly so I give up and look elsewhere.  I would be interested to see how it works out for you.

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3 minutes ago, Sabrinaklai said:

I love Ebates but I have never done travel through them.  It always says things like, "up to 14% off" and then I don't know what the discount is exactly so I give up and look elsewhere.  I would be interested to see how it works out for you.

It had the details on their site. I checked it and the cruise was the highest offer so wonder what an agents kickback really is. 

But ya, if you go this way be prepared to do most things yourself and you will need to call TA rather than RC.

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50 minutes ago, Sabrinaklai said:

I love Ebates but I have never done travel through them.  It always says things like, "up to 14% off" and then I don't know what the discount is exactly so I give up and look elsewhere.  I would be interested to see how it works out for you

I messaged Ebates and customer service gave me this reply for my transaction.... Thank you for your email.  Upon review of your account, I do see that there was a shopping trip created and I can confirm that Orbitz was offering 14% Cash Back on cruises on 11/27/2017.

Just have to wait about 3 months after the trip is completed to get the cashback. I will certainly report to this site what the end result is.....

 

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52 minutes ago, Steve L said:

I messaged Ebates and customer service gave me this reply for my transaction.... Thank you for your email.  Upon review of your account, I do see that there was a shopping trip created and I can confirm that Orbitz was offering 14% Cash Back on cruises on 11/27/2017.

Just have to wait about 3 months after the trip is completed to get the cashback. I will certainly report to this site what the end result is.....

 

Thanks! Looking forward to it.  I'm always on the hunt for a better travel deal :12_slight_smile:

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Well it seems going through any of the major online travel agency sites is the less conventional way to book a cruise. With the increase in gratuities that Royal has implemented, the cashback (if Orbitz delivers on the 14%!) will go a long way in offsetting that for my family of four on a 7 night cruise.  In addition, the on board credit from Royal should be enough to cover drinks...

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1 hour ago, Steve L said:

Well it seems going through any of the major online travel agency sites is the less conventional way to book a cruise. With the increase in gratuities that Royal has implemented, the cashback (if Orbitz delivers on the 14%!) will go a long way in offsetting that for my family of four on a 7 night cruise.  In addition, the on board credit from Royal should be enough to cover drinks...

Ya Travelocity was a better deal than Royal direct as Royal wasn't giving obc but they were so right there was better. Add the cash back from ebates, it ends up being a no-brainer. I use them for everything anyways and their customer service is the best. I have had to deal with RCL by phone and they are terrible where are Travelocity will even call on your behalf and is a much better experience in my opinion. So I rather use one of the major online agents then go direct. I have never received a better price direct (with the exceptions of companies that don't appear in these searches like southwest or a members-only discount). Places like these find incentives for you to book through them and in many cases have extras like OBC or better deposit rates or other benefits like working with ebates to get you money back. 

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4 hours ago, LetsTryThisTech said:

Ya Travelocity was a better deal than Royal direct as Royal wasn't giving obc but they were so right there was better. Add the cash back from ebates, it ends up being a no-brainer. I use them for everything anyways and their customer service is the best. I have had to deal with RCL by phone and they are terrible where are Travelocity will even call on your behalf and is a much better experience in my opinion. So I rather use one of the major online agents then go direct. I have never received a better price direct (with the exceptions of companies that don't appear in these searches like southwest or a members-only discount). Places like these find incentives for you to book through them and in many cases have extras like OBC or better deposit rates or other benefits like working with ebates to get you money back. 

I have listened the pod cast before. They said that “ Price will be the same between RCL direct or TA.....”  .  But I knew it was not same.   On-line TA gave us more OBC than RCL direct that is true. But TA incentive OBC can’t use Cruise Planner for purchase something.   Only we can use it on Board.  I purchased pretty much through cruise planner so I don’t know how can I use that OBC.  

 

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2 minutes ago, J. Woody said:

I have listened the pod cast before. They said that “ Price will be the same between RCL direct or TA.....”  .  But I knew it was not same.   On-line TA gave us more OBC than RCL direct that is true. But TA incentive OBC can’t use Cruise Planner for purchase something.   Only we can use it on Board.  I purchased pretty much through cruise planner so I don’t know how can I use that OBC.  

 

You would be surprised, gifts at the stores, duty-free on board, many other things that you might have forgotten about. I am sure there is something. I also think they refund it if you do not use it but I may be wrong on that part (others can confirm). But I am sure you will find something that would normally be extra that you can use it towards.

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6 minutes ago, LetsTryThisTech said:

You would be surprised, gifts at the stores, duty-free on board, many other things that you might have forgotten about. I am sure there is something. I also think they refund it if you do not use it but I may be wrong on that part (others can confirm). But I am sure you will find something that would normally be extra that you can use it towards.

Thank you for your reply.  I didn’t. know that the OBC could be use at Duty- free shop.!

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1 hour ago, J. Woody said:

I have listened the pod cast before. They said that “ Price will be the same between RCL direct or TA.....”  .  But I knew it was not same.   On-line TA gave us more OBC than RCL direct that is true. But TA incentive OBC can’t use Cruise Planner for purchase something.   Only we can use it on Board.  I purchased pretty much through cruise planner so I don’t know how can I use that OBC.  

 

For TA OBC that we cannot use until we get on board, we usually use it towards gratuities.  That is the one thing we don't pre-pay if we know we have OBC coming our way.

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Um for those that have gone the e-bates/ online TA route...do you guys use something like cruisefish? Depending on the forum or even their own site, people either say yes they love it...or that its no longer being done...

Or do you guys use another site like CruisePlum or VacationsToGo ?

like Sabrina I dont mind managing my own bookings and having to go call the agent for a reprice rather than the excellent service i've heard that MEI does for their clients here...but having a tool to make tracking easier even daily would be appreciated

 

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8 hours ago, TheaFromCDA said:

Um for those that have gone the e-bates/ online TA route...do you guys use something like cruisefish? Depending on the forum or even their own site, people either say yes they love it...or that its no longer being done...

Or do you guys use another site like CruisePlum or VacationsToGo ?

like Sabrina I dont mind managing my own bookings and having to go call the agent for a reprice rather than the excellent service i've heard that MEI does for their clients here...but having a tool to make tracking easier even daily would be appreciated

 

Never heard of any of those myself. I use Travelocity just because their site is a million times better and more reliable than RC's. They normally are a little better priced, I have also been using them for years. If you go to ebates you can check if the sites you are interested in have any rebate and how much. When I booked mine there was a sale for I think it was around 14% or 17% (somewhere around there) rebate so that is another thing to consider. 

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8 hours ago, TheaFromCDA said:

Um for those that have gone the e-bates/ online TA route...do you guys use something like cruisefish? Depending on the forum or even their own site, people either say yes they love it...or that its no longer being done...

Or do you guys use another site like CruisePlum or VacationsToGo ?

like Sabrina I dont mind managing my own bookings and having to go call the agent for a reprice rather than the excellent service i've heard that MEI does for their clients here...but having a tool to make tracking easier even daily would be appreciated

 

I have never heard of those sites either, other than Vacationstogo.  I have never booked through them though.  I don't know of any online tracking tool.  It's just part of my daily routine lol.  I know @LetsTryThisTech mentioned using ebates and then travelocity, which is a huge savings, but unfortunately, for Canadians, that is not an option on Ebates.ca.  You could however go the Ebates.com route but then they would cut you a cheque back in USD or credit it to your Paypal account in USD.

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The problem, for me, with a price tracking site is that they (at least the ones I've ever used) only price the lowest category of a cabin type.  For instance, we usually get a GS or better and the price that they track on these sites is always for the lowest category of Junior Suites.  Now it stands to reason that if the lowest priced category goes down then the rest probably follow as well but that's not always true and they all don't change by the same percentage so there's still a lot of sleuthing required.  Guess I'm just lazy.  It's easier for me to just check the prices myself.

The one feature of cruisefish that I have found helpful is that if a category of rooms has been sold out and you have an alert configured, it will alert you if that category becomes available again and whether the price is up or down from its last published rate.

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