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I have used a regular TA and also an airline one where I can get up to 70K miles. Figuring at 2.5C a mile If purchased it's often better that the discount my TA gives me. I have also gotten OBCs and free tips incl.  It  pays to look around and get several quotes. The airline agent told me she books for most airlines and box stores and other travel sources. The miles can vary depending on the airline.

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54 minutes ago, Hawaiidan said:

If your happy ....  I would not   as my agent gives me 8-9%  cash back + OBC

What percentage OBC? 

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33 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

What percentage OBC? 

 

33 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

What percentage OBC? 

 

33 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

What percentage OBC? 

 

47 minutes ago, SeaBands said:

I have used a regular TA and also an airline one where I can get up to 70K miles. Figuring at 2.5C a mile If purchased it's often better that the discount my TA gives me. I have also gotten OBCs and free tips incl.  It  pays to look around and get several quotes. The airline agent told me she books for most airlines and box stores and other travel sources. The miles can vary depending on the airline.

If your smart  when you fly on a FF tickets you can buy back miles for 2 cents    up to a limit     Its also important  to settle on a specific airline program/ cc and utilize them 100%   and achieve status with the airline   They offer their  high mile /long term/ cc clients things you would not be able to get.  After 30 years and millions of miles flying  I stick with UAL/star alliance and Marriott Business cards  and haven't paid for an international flight in 10 years     If your in the UAL FF club(free)  you can go to their web site and buy miles at 2cents cheaper than you could earn them    

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% of what OBC ?   Fare.     Thats  never been a question  I asked    Problem with OBC is are they convertable to hard cash  for un used portion ?        Most are not.    I would rather have the cash to begin with, then pay on board with that cash and get miles or points in addition.    Getting a OBC and spending it  earns  you nothing.     

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30 minutes ago, Hawaiidan said:

% of what OBC ?   Fare.     Thats  never been a question  I asked    Problem with OBC is are they convertable to hard cash  for un used portion ?        Most are not.    I would rather have the cash to begin with, then pay on board with that cash and get miles or points in addition.    Getting a OBC and spending it  earns  you nothing.     

Sorry.  I meant to ask what percent of your fare do you get back in OBC? 

I've never had any OBC from a TA that was not refundable on a HAL cruise. 

Edited by Cruising-along

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15 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

Sorry.  I meant to ask what percentage of your fare is the OBC based on?  I've never had any OBC from a TA that was not refundable on a HAL cruise. 

I have  no idea...never had the need to   say$ 600 on a $9000 ticket    I know that folks who revel in getting 1.5 or 2% cash back on their credit cards  take  it in the shorts   compared to taking it in miles or points   say you spend 140,000  Thats $2800 at 2% !!     However using it in ff likes  gets me a $6800 ticket.....   thats 4000 more value for the miles,  Plus the $2800 is taxable money   whereas the miles are tax free !!!  In california even ar the lowest  rated  fed/state  your going to  loose 20% minimum

 

Again  Id rather the  Travel Agent  give me the cash any day rather than any OBC and let me use it  where I want and earn points

Edited by Hawaiidan
grammer

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6 minutes ago, Hawaiidan said:

I have  no idea...never had the need to   say$ 600 on a $9000 ticket    I know that folks who revel in getting 1.5 or 2% cash back on their credit cards  take  it in the shorts   compared to taking it in miles or points   say you spend 140,000  Thats $2800 at 2% !!     However using it in ff likes  gets me a $6800 ticket.....   thats 4000 more value for the miles,  Plus the $2800 is taxable money   whereas the miles are tax free !!!  In california even ar the lowest  rated  fed/state  your going to  loose 20% minimum

 

Again  Id rather the  Travel Agent  give me the cash any day rather than any OBC and let me use it  where I want and earn points

Just saying because on our cruises we get between 7-8% back in OBC plus the 2% back in cash. If we don't use all the OBC it's refundable.  Great that you're happy, but I don't need points (get that in other places) or frequent miles (get that too in other places).  Each of us is different in what we choose, and that should be fine.

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25 minutes ago, Cruising-along said:

Just saying because on our cruises we get between 7-8% back in OBC plus the 2% back in cash. If we don't use all the OBC it's refundable.  Great that you're happy, but I don't need points (get that in other places) or frequent miles (get that too in other places).  Each of us is different in what we choose, and that should be fine.

Its all clear now  , we are each getting about the same. net/net 9-10% is the going rate for reliable long tern customers.   

  I no longer work so my ff and Hotel are are on my dime now for earning.   I normally book higher end cruises.    I use HAL on the on the  occasion for special ports  that the other lines do not offer.    Whats important  that you found  that you have to be smart  today.  ciao

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3 hours ago, Hawaiidan said:

If your happy ....  I would not   as my agent gives me 8-9%  cash back + OBC

The OBC from the Big Box is approximately the same as your cash back.  Pretty much a wash.

I do like the credit card from the Big Box which gives 3% back on all travel including cruises, airlines, hotels and restaurants.  

Add it up, 2% for executive members, 8-9% for the OBC, and 3% cash back for using the credit card.  

My TA offers 8-9% discount.  I usually go with her since I prefer the discount since we rarely would spend that much in OBC.

You really have to look at both and make the decision that fits you  best.

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I’ve read this board for years and it is apparent many posters here book directly with Holland America.  I’ve read countless posts from people lamenting they cannot get on the web site to see fares and shop for a cruise. 

Never, ever have I used a cruise line web site to look for cruises or compare prices, much less book a cruise.  I rarely sign into any cruise line web site.  Those who book with the cruise line are  likely spending too much for a product.  

There are many web sites, discount travel agents who will get you a better fare..  and they do a good job.    Shop around.  Get on email distribution lists. 

The big box store does not handle our favorite cruise line but we’ve used it for Disney.  They rebate a percentage of the total cruise fare in the form of a sizable store gift card. 

Premium and luxury lines do not generally firesail  their products but  they adjust pricing for slow selling trips.  Flash sails happen.  We’ve caught a couple great Crystal deals. 

Discount TA’s will rebate a percentage of their commission, sometimes with a Visa gift card applicable to the fare.  Sometimes they give lots of OBC but we prefer a lower upfront price. 

 

 

 

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On ‎1‎/‎30‎/‎2019 at 1:40 PM, Hawaiidan said:

On air fare....   become a member of that airlines FF club.   You do not need to fly to get miles.  Get the airlines cc card....NOT the all airline /hotel cards they are never as good.   With the Airlines FF and Credit card you will get free baggage and trip insurance and no charge foreign exchange rates  !' 

Great advice, I have an American Airlines Advantage card and I have over 80,000 non flight miles in my account. They even have a dining program that pays a bonus 3X the check in miles on top of the standard miles. Our Favorite Thai Sushi Restaurant is on the program and last Friday we spent $70 and got 280 miles in my account. We also get free checked bags on all AA flights. Living in Texas AA has great flying options for us. They are also now allowing their miles to be used in buying and upgrading to Premium Economy tickets for international flights.

 

We also have always used a TA for all travel and cruises except air flights, have used the same one for 15 years and get great service and pricing. I have her cell phone number and can reach her anytime, even on weekends. She has my back and best interests covered and works for me not the cruise line, I would never book through the cruise company. 

Edited by terrydtx

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Our TA gives us a 10-12% cash discount.  On top of that she usually throws in a $250-$350 OBC as a thank you but that doesn’t seem to be calculated as percentage of the fare.  

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3 hours ago, Randyk47 said:

Our TA gives us a 10-12% cash discount.  On top of that she usually throws in a $250-$350 OBC as a thank you but that doesn’t seem to be calculated as percentage of the fare.  

I dont know what possesses people to go to the cruise line direct... do they think they're cutting out the middle man ???     The only thing they are cutting is their throat....   The cruise consultant for the company is NOT your friend, they will never ever give you  anywhere near the deal and service  as a good travel agent....  If you think they are so good to you at the company site.... just try to imagine  how much better an agent could be !!!!!!           the only exception is calling the Airlines and booking direct... never ever through a 3 ed party. 

 

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The problem is finding a good travel agent.  I had one many moons ago, but she was promoted into management, then her company was bought out by a ginormous company, and the service went downhill.  I have looked for other TAs, and have gotten terrible service.  I live is a relatively small town (Fairbanks, Alaska), and have not been impressed with local services.  I miss those days of having an outstanding agent.

Edited by Taters

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4 minutes ago, Taters said:

The problem is finding a good travel agent.  I had one many moons ago, but she was promoted into management, then her company was bought out by a ginormous company, and the service went downhill.  I have looked for other TAs, and have gotten terrible service.  I live is a relatively small town (Fairbanks, Alaska), and have not been impressed with local services.  I miss those days of having an outstanding agent.

 

Many of us have the same problem so, we deal with agents in other cities.

 

Between email, phone and internet, a lot can be accomplished 😉 

 

I live in Canada and deal with people in the U.S. 😉 

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1 minute ago, kazu said:

 

Many of us have the same problem so, we deal with agents in other cities.

 

Between email, phone and internet, a lot can be accomplished 😉 

 

I live in Canada and deal with people in the U.S. 😉 

I understand, but I am now completely deaf, too.  I have cochlear implants, so the phone is a real struggle for me.  Internet and email are best for me, but I've run into too many agencies do not want to put all of the frills in writing, as the days of them being able to undercut the cruise lines' fares are long over, and they can get in trouble for it.

 

I do internet searches for fares all the time, and have not been able to find lower fares than the casino deals I am offered by the cruise lines.  These also include OBC, spa passes, free specialty dining, etc.  We do not gamble all that much, really (less than $50 per day on a cruise), but we've managed to get some excellent deals. 

 

I'd LOVE to find a competent travel agent that I can trust, but after trying several different agencies over the span of approximately 6 years, and having reservation after reservation messed up, I quit looking. 

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23 hours ago, Hawaiidan said:

If your happy ....  I would not   as my agent gives me 8-9%  cash back + OBC

The big box store gives us 9.5% back as OBC as well as 2% rebate to our membership account.

 

We don't have to pay any income tax on the rebates that we get either.

Edited by OVgirl

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39 minutes ago, Taters said:

I have looked for other TAs, and have gotten terrible service.  I live is a relatively small town (Fairbanks, Alaska), and have not been impressed with local services.  I miss those days of having an outstanding agent.

The TA I have used for 15 years is in Alabama and I live in Texas. No problems booking with her by phone or by email.  As big as San Antonio is, I would not trust any TA locally as long as my current Alabama one takes care of me.

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14 minutes ago, terrydtx said:

The TA I have used for 15 years is in Alabama and I live in Texas. No problems booking with her by phone or by email.  As big as San Antonio is, I would not trust any TA locally as long as my current Alabama one takes care of me.

Again, I have to say that finding a great travel agent is a very difficult thing to do.

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50 minutes ago, Taters said:

Again, I have to say that finding a great travel agent is a very difficult thing to do.

it  is however, worth the effort $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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2 hours ago, Taters said:

Again, I have to say that finding a great travel agent is a very difficult thing to do.

It's not that difficult.  Read threads like this.  Read between the lines.  You can figure it out in a couple of hours.

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10 hours ago, Randyk47 said:

Our TA gives us a 10-12% cash discount.  On top of that she usually throws in a $250-$350 OBC as a thank you but that doesn’t seem to be calculated as percentage of the fare.  

  

Some, like me, who were in the travel agency business for decades will remember when once upon a time airlines paid at least 10% commission on airfares with many volume agencies getting 15%+......over time a lot of agencies starting rebating half or more of their commission especially to corporate accounts to convince these accounts to book via the agency rather than direct with the airlines corporate sales divisions...this went on for several years until finally American airlines basically said if you agents can afford to rebate half or more of your commissions then we must be paying you too much commission...the first cut was to 5% commission which most all airlines soon matched...then when they saw it worked the base commission went to 0% meaning agencies had to start charging ticketing fees which of course many clients did not like...the number of retail agencies declined from over 30 000 to about half that number as more and more agencies went out of business....add to that the development of technology that allowed people to peruse airline schedules, seating, etc and the book it themselves with the click of a mouse and the genie was truly out of the bottle for agents..

 

Now we are seeing a similar trend with agents rebating big chunks of their commissions to get the booking...if agency A gives 7.5% then agency B will ultimately up it to 9% and on and on....In addition the cruise line bean counters are constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses and increase revenues....thus you see more and more nickel and diming and attempts to extract more $$ from onboard activities....

 

For those of you that think these same bean counters don't look at the huge amount that the cruise lines pay out in commissions you might want to reconsider.  It is one of the biggest line item expenses they have.  Most agencies as part of consortiums are getting about 15% commission on cruise bookings with the consortium itself getting additional overrides.  Yes airline tickets are more of a commodity than cruise cabins...and yes many cruise pax need more advice and hand holding than an airline pax....but as more and more people cruise much of the "mystery" about which cabin to pick etc is disappearing.  Add to that better and better technology  and artifical intelligence that in a few short years will enable u to go to a cruise line website and have a virtual travel consultant take u on a ship tour and answer all your questions online and there is no doubt in my mind that eventually the cruise lines will begin to cut agents commissions (after all they must make too much if they can rebate most of it) and up the book direct game.  The cruise lines have email addresses for most every passenger who has ever sailed with them and they can do direct email campaigns offering cabin upgrades, comp transfers, discount specialty restaurants etc that travel agents simply will be unable to match. Yes we all know that a lot of the cruise lines current websites seem to send the message to book somewhere else as they have been designed by idiots it is just a matter of time til the cruise execs invest in state of the art websites designed to make booking direct easier than ever.  And yes I am aware that publicly most cruise lines say oh we will never cut out the travel agencies ....United's pitch to travel agencies for years was "partners in travel".....yeah right.

 

So for all of you who love to post online about all the rebates you are getting from big box and online travel agents you might want to think about where all this will ultimately lead.  I'm not saying that getting the rebates doesn't  makes sense now but encouraging everyone online to forget booking direct and to drill the agent who is offering 8% to up it to 10% or more will ultimately end up with reactions very similar to what the airlines did when rebating got completely out of control.

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The only difference that we can discern in questioning where a TA happens to be located is occasionally the travel agent indemnity fund that the jurisdiction may have.  Even then, paying by credit card offers some protection

 

We have dealt/booked with TA’s in the UK, South Africa, Canada, US, SE Asia, Philippines,etc.  Since all of our correspondence is by email it really does not matter to us if the agency has a shop down the road or an office on the other side of the world.  It comes down to service, price, and delivery for us.  There have been several occasions where we have saved significant percentages by dealing with on line TA’s in other countries vs B&M agencies in our city or on line TA’s in North America.  

 

 

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I have no doubt that cruise lines would like to do away with indirect bookings through TA’s.

 

Keep in mind two things.  First, TA commissions are built into the cruise line pricing model.  Second, the TA cost structure/revenue structure has changed dramatically over the years.  From brick and mortar storefront to industrial estate on line offices to individual associated TA’s working from their home offices.   Now, many people like us only use a TA book a cruise.  IF we were offered a twenty point discount to book ourselves on the web with no human intervention we might jump on it eighty percent of the time we booked.

 

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9 hours ago, iancal said:

The only difference that we can discern in questioning where a TA happens to be located is occasionally the travel agent indemnity fund that the jurisdiction may have.  Even then, paying by credit card offers some protection

 

We have dealt/booked with TA’s in the UK, South Africa, Canada, US, SE Asia, Philippines,etc.  Since all of our correspondence is by email it really does not matter to us if the agency has a shop down the road or an office on the other side of the world.  It comes down to service, price, and delivery for us.  There have been several occasions where we have saved significant percentages by dealing with on line TA’s in other countries vs B&M agencies in our city or on line TA’s in North America.  

 

 

 

You are right that there is some protection in booking with a credit card. But I suspect I’m not the only person who likes working with a big box TA because the corporation has a tangible retail presence 15 minutes from my house. Sure, no travel agents are based there and we talk to different people on the phone every time we need assistance, but I know we’re dealing with a reputable, well-run entity. 

 

We have travel companions who use another online-only company - sometimes they come out ahead on price and benefits by a % point of two, or sometimes we do. However, cancellation/change policies seem much more favorable at our big box.

Edited by Caribbean Chris

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