9 Ways to Annoy a Travel Agent

by Melissa on August 7, 2015 · 23 comments

In the wake of the success of my post about things I learned being a travel agent, I thought I would enlighten you with a number of ways you can annoy a travel agent. During my 15-month stint, there was no shortage of annoying people coming in or calling into the shop.   I just wish would be able to read this post and think twice about their behaviour. Without further ado… 9 ways to annoy a travel agent.

annoyed

  1. “So why should I book with you and not online?”

So you mean to tell me you came all this way to basically question why I have a job? Good relationships don’t really start out well when the first thing you say to me is essentially making me prove myself to you. Have you perhaps stopped to think that maybe there’s added value in using a travel agent? When you misconnect on your flight to Australia or Africa, and have no way of figuring out what to do next – is the Internet going to come to your rescue? Probably not. How bout that amazing honeymoon – is the Internet going to buy you a bottle of champagne for you to enjoy and have it waiting, chilled, in your room for when you arrive? Uh… no. So, stop wasting my time with these stupid questions and either sit down or piss off.

  1. Spend hours or days or weeks working with me, then taking my well thought out itinerary for you, and booking it elsewhere.

Oh these people can go f**k right off, excuse my language. But seriously- they can f**k off. Do you realize how long it took for your travel agent to put this together? While you went on your everyday regular routine… your travel agent spent hours upon hours to make sure they got every little detail you wanted for your trip and you just go and book it yourself? Man… you’re just the worst. In case you didn’t realize, a good part of my job is commission based… and this is how I pay my mortgage, so when you go and book it yourself, you’ve just screwed me out of a good chunk of money! You don’t work for free, so why should I be expected to?

  1. “So…. I just looked at my passport, and everything you just booked for me, well… I realized John is actually my MIDDLE name not my first name… that’s not a big deal, right?”

Um…. YEAH it’s a big deal. And, no, this isn’t going to be a free change either. If you’re lucky, you will be able to change the name – but most airlines wont permit this without some sort of penalty. From my experience a lot of airlines won’t even change it at all and you’re stuck buying an entirely new ticket. Not the travel agent’s fault you didn’t double check before you signed off on everything.

passport

  1. Tirekickers

These are the folks who are secretly shopping around. Look, I have no problem with you shopping around – but be honest with me. Because when you turn around and say you’re booking it elsewhere because you’ve already found it cheaper than what I had found, you’re really gonna piss me off. I had one woman who would contact me once every couple months and list off 4 or 5 destinations she’d like to get pricing for, all for different dates – and she NEVER booked. So one day I called her out on it, and the emails stopped. I know what you’re doing… but if you’re just looking for basic pricing, there’s a thing called the Internet so you can do your research. If you’re serious about making your travel plans a reality- let’s talk.

  1. “I just have a quick question….”

It’s never a quick question. These people will end up sitting in front of you for hours upon hours and in all honesty will probably not end up booking.

  1. “Is that the best price you can do? Can’t you give me a discount?”

Buddy, I don’t even discount my family, never mind some person I’ve never even met. I don’t make the prices and I certainly don’t work for free. Nowhere does it say that I am a non-profit, and I am not obliged to have to give you a discount, especially if it’s coming out of my commission. Travel is a luxury, and if you want to go away, you have to pay the price the airline/supplier/ hotel tells me to charge you.

  1. “I know you’re closing in 5 minutes… but I was wondering if you could help me.”

Oh wonderful – because I really didn’t want to get home to my family, have my dinner or go to that after work commitment I had. All because you can’t wait until we’re open again (likely within 12 hours). Our hours are listed on the door or online… why didn’t you plan ahead.

Photo credit: http://www.blogmodelili.com/en/blog/

  1. Not respecting my work/life balance

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with #7. Please do not try to hunt me down on Facebook, or find my old employer to get my cell phone number (yes it happened) because you need to make a change to your trip in the middle of the night- when I don’t even have access to the programs required to make said changes. When I’m off work for the weekend, or for my regularly scheduled days off – DO NOT ASK MY COLLEAGUES FOR MY HOME NUMBER!

  1. The client in search of the best deal… to anywhere… anytime

These people walk in, likely because they have nothing better to do and want to waste your time. They’ll rarely ever book, and are just dreaming of going away. They don’t care where they go, or when… they just want you to get them the best deal. Can you narrow it down a little, because I need to have something to work with… there is no search function for “best deal anytime, anywhere.”

man-looking-in-travel-agent

So I may have gotten a bit snarky on this one, but I truly feel it needed to be said. Travel agents are people –not the Internet, and they have a largely thankless job, most of the world thinks there is no need for them or that they can do it better. There is a purpose for travel agents, but keep in mind they’re usually commission based jobs – don’t waste their time. Do a bit of research ahead of time, and educate yourself!

Stay tuned for the final instalment in my “Life as a Travel Agent” series.

Travel agents, are there any other types of clients that drive you NUTS?

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Marta Kulesza August 7, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Hilarious! I have worked at the a hostel and later hotel reception and have also loads of stories to tell. People are incosiderate many times because of the lack of knowledge but there is always this 1% that are pure assholes and are gonna make your day miserable!

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Anne August 7, 2015 at 11:31 pm

I used to work in wholesale but I can still relate to this post!

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Tine August 8, 2015 at 4:48 am

Wow, someone actually got your private number from your old boss? That is just crazy! I can totally relate to this post! There are probably a lot of a**holes out there…..I once dropped a travel agent (the person hadn’t spent much time anyways) only because she clearly didn’t understood what I wanted even though I had made it clear several times. I just wanted the cheapest airline tickets and I would book my own hotels. Instead she choose some of the most expensive airline tickets and booked four star hotels all the way through….
Tine recently posted..Sleeping in airportsMy Profile

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nancy alexander August 8, 2015 at 5:08 pm

OMG….this is soooo reconisable.

I am working as a travel agent for more than 15 years in the Netherlands and it feels like you have written about me!

Clients are the same allover the world!

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Dee Busch August 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm

I once had a client who would call every day and ask “What’s the special for today?” After awhile I couldn’t resist anymore and said: “Ham on Rye”.

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Dee Busch August 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

To Tine, I’m guessing your travel agent was so relieved when you “dropped” them. All you wanted from them was a non-revenue, cheapest ticket? I probably wouldn’t have dropped you, (but less patient agents would have told you to do it yourself if you think you know our business–and that’s probably what this agent was doing in a less direct way), but I would have charged you AT LEAST $100 to find the “cheapest” ticket. THAT’s what you use the internet for! Hotels that are best suited for you, your budget and your expectations is what you’d use the agent for. Re-think what a travel agent is for and what they do. Next time, let them plan your entire trip and see how much you like it.

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ANDREW SULLIVAN August 8, 2015 at 11:16 pm

She is promoting her blog post of “sleeping in airports”, I think that says it all.

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Tine August 11, 2015 at 5:44 am

To Dee. Okay, I may not have expressed myself properly. I know what I get from a travel agent and I know what they do – I have used them before. First off she pretty much laughed at me for wanting to go to New Zealand during their winter (I can only travel in july/august due to uni). Then I asked her for making me an offer – I said I was very flexible of where I was flying from and to and that I didn’t care where my layover was, I just wanted her best offer and I knew that it was cheaper to book myself, but I like having a travel agent. I said I wasn’t really interested in booking hotels with her, because I wasn’t sure of my itinerantly at that point, because I was visiting my sister and I wasn’t sure when we had time off to travel with us and I knew I was going to sleep at her home.

According to the travel bureau she was an expert in New Zealand (it later turned out that she had been there once for two weeks). When we asked her questions about the country, e.g. practical information or any recommendation she might had for sightseeing etc. – she couldn’t answer. We had been speaking to her coworker earlier who was able to tell us a lot of things and a lot more welcoming. This one were rude (even before we turned her offer down). We asked her if that was her best offer (because it was way over the price range we had given her) she admitted that she hadn’t found the best one because she thought we wanted to have a layover in Singapore – several times we had said we didn’t really care where our layover was.

She had been rude, she had been laughing at us, she didn’t really seemed to even wanted to give us an offer and she hadn’t really been listing to our wishes. It might just have been some miscommunication, but my patience isn’t really that long for someone who is rude to begin with. I am sorry.

To Andrew – Sleeping in airports was just the latest post I had written at that time and my blog is about budget travelling yes, but if you had read the post I only sleep in airports when I am forced to do so e.g. that one time where there was only transport from a small town in South Africa to Johannesburg airport arriving 24 hours before might flight otherwise I couldn’t get transport arriving early enough to catch my plane
Tine recently posted..My favourite countries to travel aloneMy Profile

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Ellen August 8, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Too much whining. Re: #4, #6, and #9, of course, folks will want to purchase the lowest price and will shop around to get the best deal. Do you buy insurance at the first company you call? No, you probably call a few places and see who gives you the best price. Do you prefer paying full-price for a dress if you know it’ll go on sale tomorrow? no. Re: #7, restaurants and retail stores have it way worse than you do.

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Kerry August 10, 2015 at 9:49 am

I have no problem with clients price shopping, it is the honesty that bugs me. I have contracts with preferred suppliers that can match virtually everything – yes it has to be an apples to apples comparison. So if you found a deal, tell me the flights, the hotel and I will tell you if I can meet it or beat it. Simple as that. Of course I will also tell you a whole bunch of other very important information based on my extensive training and experience so you can make the most informed decision possible because when it comes to travel, you really don’t know what you don’t know.

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Tine August 11, 2015 at 5:48 am

Thank you Ellen. It was not that I expected to get a better price than online. I know I wouldn’t get one, but I do expect a travel agent to listen to my wishes and then make their best offer 🙂 I have heard several people having the same problems with this particular travel bureau that I had – their offers were nothing like the clients had wished for and the price range were way higher than asked for. They just gave them another chance or two until everyone was satisfied, I simply didn’t had that kind of patience 🙂
Tine recently posted..My favourite countries to travel aloneMy Profile

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Rebecca August 9, 2015 at 4:46 am

The people that book online and come and ask for your help when the Bali Volcano is going off. They’re traveling in 6 months time “Will my flights be affected?”…. I dunno, let me get my Crystal ball!

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therese August 9, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Exactly.

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Ros August 9, 2015 at 5:43 am

I think travel agents need to up their game and provide more than just a ‘free bottle of wine on arrival’. The truth is that people are savvy now. We can all get better and cheaper deals on the internet. Travel agents will be a dying breed if they don’t shape and start offering a more competitive service.

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Neil Steedman August 9, 2015 at 10:46 am

RE item 9: Yes, there is! See item 1 in: http://www.ittn.ie/news/top-five-travel-websites/

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Taasca August 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

To Ellen…that’s just it… the travel agent does all the shopping for you. That’s what takes up so much of the agent’s time. Most agents don’t give you the 1st rate they see. They shop around just like the client would. Looking for “deals” but still utilizing their knowledge and experience to give clients their dream vacation. Most people give agents an unreasonable 2 star budget to work with and expect to get into a 5 star property. It happens more often than not. And to Ros… there’s a lot more than a free bottle included when you use an agent, starting with Peace of mind. The agent is the one stressing while you’re on vacation. Hoping that everything goes to plan. They don’t just plan the trip, take the money and go away like the online service does. They’re with you the whole way and sometimes even once you return from vacation to make sure you get settled back in and have no lingering issues.

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therese August 9, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Taasca, totally agree.

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Justin August 9, 2015 at 10:05 pm

This post infuriates me.
1. I welcome customers who walk into the shop and I love PROVING to them why I am better than the Internet.
2. If you have out sleep much “time and effort” into a booking, and they book elsewhere – then maybe you should take a look at your consulting and ask why?
3. You should have educated your customer in the importance of correct names and the consequences of not getting it right.

And the last point about the best deal to anywhere anytime – They might not know the name of the place they want to go, but they have a vision of what it looks like, whether it be lying on a beach, eating their way through Exotic street food stalls, or shopping up a storm. YOU are the expert, you need to ask them questions about what it is they actually want to experience. It is then your job to make the most ideal recommendations for that customer.

Yes there are annoying customer, but guess what… It’s a customer service roll! If you whinged like that in your time as an agent, I’m guessing you weren’t a very good one and it’s clear to see why you only lasted 15 months.

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K in philly August 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

I’m sorry, but which is it? I should use a travel agent versus booking online because you have my back if there is a problem, or ‘don’t try to track me down nights/weekends/days off/5 min before closing? At least Expedia has done idiot available on the phone 24/7.

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Jayne August 10, 2015 at 3:47 am

Wow Justin. You’ve never had a client treat you like absolute dirt before? Really? Proving yourself to a nice customer who genuinely wants a good holiday is a different kettle of fish to proving yourself to the arrogant tosser who always thinks they know better than you & wants you to justify your existence at all times. I worked for an agent in Canary Wharf for 3 years, I’ve had people stand over me, talk down to me & generally second guess everything I’ve told them many times. And I always stress to people at both quote & payment ‘names exactly as on your passports’. It doesn’t mean they are hearing you. Had a huge hoo-ha with a client once because his wife’s name was wrong ‘I don’t know where you got Ann from, it’s Elizabeth!’. Played the call back, sure as eggs phonetically spelt ‘as per passport’. Phoned him back & his voicemail message… ‘Hi, you’ve reached Stuart & Ann’. Gah!

Your second paragraph is true to an extent but why does every enquiry have to be like drawing blood out of a stone? We want beach, anywhere that’s nice. So I questioned them heavily including my favourite ‘Is there anywhere you DON’T want to go?’. No. So when I give them a quote for Sri Lanka they recoil in horror. Turns out they only meant USA or Caribbean. You have to tell me or I won’t know.

I love being an agent when you get good clients, even some of the ones that don’t book make my day enjoyable, but serial prov’ers (provisional booking holders), champagne taste/beer budget clients & constant price beating nonsense (tax/resort fees at hotel check-out anyone?) also make me crazy. I’m good at my job, I know a hell of a lot & I only have your best interests at heart so how about a bit of trust?

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Carole Williams August 11, 2015 at 11:07 am

Hi Melissa,
I know when I met you on the Celebrity Summit, I would like you. I am so happy travel agents now have a voice and I totally agree with everything you say! Thank you for this. If I could see you right now I would give you a big hug!
p.s. I don’t have a website, I just put my facebook account one. I hope this is okay.
I also put this comment on your facebook page.
Thank you again!

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Sonia August 16, 2015 at 7:26 am

Ross, do you go to work every day and do a couple of hours unpaid overtime?? Those bottles of wine come out of our commission…so just to clarify you’d like what exactly on EVERY booking over and above a bottle of wine to “up our game” because you can find it cheaper online…Ross…my “game” doesn’t come any more “up” enjoy your self booked holiday 😁

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Leslie Slightam September 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm

There are multiple benefits of booking with a travel agent, but since you’re sitting in my office and not in front of your computer at home, I’m going to guess you already know them. You’re simply asking me to beg for your business, which I’m not going to do. I enjoy helping you plan trips but if you’d rather do it yourself online, I’m not going to stand in your way.

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