Full service agent?: A poll

Old Mar 24, 02, 11:17 am
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Full service agent?: A poll

Prompted by a discussion in another thread...
A quick poll:

1. Would you pay a local agent that did the following:
- kept track of your miles, vouchers and upgrade certificates and status
- corrected any discrepancies with UA
- handled all refunds and credits
- gave you the lowest upgradeable fares for any destination when needed
- suggested the best seat in each plane configuration available at the time
- Suggested partner airlines when advantageous
- Nudged CSRs to allocate upgrade/reward seats
- Got you a credit automatically when prices went down
- Suggested mileage runs

2. How much would you pay for such a service? Annual subscription or per transaction?

3. What else could such a service do?
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Old Mar 24, 02, 11:28 am
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Old Mar 24, 02, 12:37 pm
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I like to keep on top of all this myself. (Perhaps I get some sort of perverse enjoyment out of it!)

Put it this way.... My partner and I bought a home last year. He would go to 30 open houses each Sunday to find the perfect "fixer." 30!!!!! I would say to him, "Why don't you just get a good agent." And he would reply, "I don't trust that anyone else will find what I can find."

And he says the same thing to me when it comes to travel planning ("Why don't you just use a good agent?")

Those of us who are looking for something very specific need/ like/ have to be on top of it ourselves.

[This message has been edited by zrs70 (edited 03-24-2002).]
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Old Mar 24, 02, 1:07 pm
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No, I wouldn't pay. I do most of this myself, and the items that require nudging of the airline (United), I have my awesome CTO angel help me there.
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Old Mar 24, 02, 1:48 pm
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NO. But we're not the proper subset of frequent flyers to ask. As a group I think we're the frequent flyers that have made an enjoyable hobby out of finding and tracking the latest perks and privileges that accrue with our business travel, both air and hotel. So even it is was free, I still keep track of what my agent was up to and fix it. However, I think we're a small minority of VFF. My brothers travel even more than I do, have earned more credit card points, hotel points and every sort of other point imagineable, and never even open their statements. They've never bothered to read the back of an SWU and don't bother to use them (so I actually get 18 a year). So I seriously doubt that they would pay to have an agent track their points...most VFF don't care.
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Old Mar 24, 02, 2:23 pm
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No. I doubt I would use these services even if they were free. The previous poster nicely summarized my thoughts. This poll is directed at the wrong audience. I, and apparently many others, enjoy doing these tasks ourselves.
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Old Mar 24, 02, 2:40 pm
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No, despite our gripes, I still prefer doing all this myself. There is a sense of challenge and adventure in keeping track of your own accounts and travel.

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

- Leonardo da Vinci
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Old Mar 24, 02, 6:44 pm
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(easy poll result to tabulate -- 100% NO so far)
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Old Mar 24, 02, 6:56 pm
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I'm going to play the contrarian and say, "Yes."

Keeping track of things was amusing for the first few years, now it's an annoying chore. What I want is to to fly upgraded, for a non-ridiculous fare.

If it were free and they were competent (it's no good if I have to check up on them, that defeats the purpose) I would do it for sure. What I would pay is a more difficult question

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Old Mar 27, 02, 5:16 am
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Intermediaries just give another area for screw-ups and subsequent finger-pointing.
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Old Mar 27, 02, 7:22 am
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No, I wouldn't, but I'd turn all of my colleagues onto such a person -- relieving me of being in the middle of everyone's travel lives.

Of course, I have yet to find a competent travel agent who could do all of the things you describe...
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Old Mar 27, 02, 9:26 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by venk:
Prompted by a discussion in another thread...
A quick poll:

- Nudged CSRs to allocate upgrade/reward seats...

1. Presumably you are referring to when upgrade or award inventory is not available ? A CSR (these are the Customer Service Reps at the airport) has no more control of releasing inventory than you or I do.

2. My answer would be no to your proposal although I think there is a service already existing to track frequent flier miles, again its a service fee based service.

Just my 2c...
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Old Mar 27, 02, 3:01 pm
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If the service included all you list plus a feature that would send me an automatic alert whenever a flying opportunity arises that fits parameters that I specify (e.g. price,destination,day-of-week,etc.), I would subscribe for $12 monthly.

The subscriber could tune their parameters to govern the number of alerts they receive.

Presumably your "agent" would be a web robot that searches the internet continuously.

I would be surprised if UAL did not have under development right now a service that pitched flying ideas to subscribers.
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Old Mar 27, 02, 4:17 pm
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Old Mar 27, 02, 4:43 pm
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You mean do all the things that a GOOD travel agent should do?

Yes I would pay, and I would think in the long run you would save a lot of money over your normal travel agent. However there is a trust factor and after dealing with travel agents that were beyond horrible I would be very skeptical of anyone with my best interest at heart. The airlines have offered "incentives" (I call them kickbacks) to travel agents to sway you to one airline over another. I've had these ethically challenged agents tell me there were no direct flights to a destination so they put me on a connecting flight on their prefered airline. I had to call her and give her the flight number, and only then did she admit there was a direct flight (She didn't see that flight because "it was on the other screen".)

Just because you have a computer and an internet account does not make you a travel agent. I've had to deal with these "travel agents" who have never set foot on a plane or stayed at a hotel.

I think most agents do charge a fee now for booking travel - hate to sound out of it, but since I don't see the bills on that end of the business, I don't know. I think charging a fee isn't a bad thing if a service is provided. If all the person who books your travel is someone with a computer and an internet connection, and you are paying them a fee, if you are a business wouldn't it be cheaper to hire someone and let them use your computer and internet connection. That way at least you would know if they were getting "incentives" to book on one airline or another, and you could use those "incentives" for your business, rather than letting your "agent" take their first flight on your dime.

And another incentive, maybe if you hire the right person they could negotiate better rates with the airlines, hotels and car rental companies, saving the company more than their salary. Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

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