Last updated: 04:35 PM ET, Mon October 31 2016

The Perils of Booking Travel Online: Why Cheaper Isn't Always Better

Features & Advice | Lisa Iannucci | October 31, 2016

The Perils of Booking Travel Online: Why Cheaper Isn't Always Better

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

It happens to travel agents all the time. They work hard at finding their clients the best travel deals that they can. Then their client calls and tells them that they found a cheaper option online. What’s a travel agent to do?

“Once I had a client call me saying they found a rate for literally half the price that I offered them,” said Jeannine Bottorff, Classic Family Journeys, an affiliate of Travel Experts, Inc. “When I did the research, I found that in order for my clients to get that lower price, they had to attend a two-hour timeshare meeting. What they didn’t know was that if they skipped it, they would be charged a total that was much more expensive than the price I offered. It’s the fine print that many clients miss when their eyes are lit up by an unbelievable price.”

The agents have heard this all too many times before, so the first thing they do is have the clients send them the so-called cheaper option.

“When I have a client call back and explain that they found a less expensive trip online, I simply tell them that the internet is great for looking and Dream Vacations is best for booking,” said Bill Schneider, from Cruises Resorts and More, a Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist in Tampa, Florida. “I ask them for a copy of the online quote so we can look it over and compare.”

Once he starts comparing the two quotes, he reminds his clients of the details of the trip so the client can book the vacation experience that they want to have.

READ MORE: Are Third-Party Hotel Booking Sites Ripping You Off?

“Land bookings are quite easy to compare,” he said. “I look at travel time, number of stops and layover times. I always point out that many times the return flights in online quotes are the first flights of the day, which means they would have to depart from the resort very early in the morning.”

He also compares airlines and explain the baggage fees of each airline. “I always point out that my quote includes transfers to and from the hotel,” he said. “The final item I compare with the client is room type. Most of the time, once the comparison is complete, I still get the booking.”

He explains that he compares cruises the same way. “Cruises are a bit easier because normally we compare cabin category to category,” said Schneider, who explains the cabin category in the online quote plus the benefits and downfalls of that category and compares it to his quote.

“I even explain the different rate codes and the rules of those codes being used in the online quote,” he said.

However, there are times when, indeed, the client has gotten a better deal. “With any trip there is always the factor of discounting,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to tell the client you are getting a great deal and you better book before it no longer exists.” 

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