Archive for the ‘Service’ Category

Oasis of the Seas – Service Review

Let me start by reiterating that service, top quality service, is first and foremost for me in everything in life.  I expect companies and employees to give 110% as the norm.  Average isn’t good enough.  I recognize that some people aren’t as particular as I am, so I’ll preface this review with “mileage may vary”.  I think this would be a great ship and great line for many people.

I have been on two previous RCCL cruises and I have to say, I was not impressed with them.  Granted bother were on smaller, older ships on shorter sailings, but I felt the food was not to my liking and the cleanliness was an issue.  I vowed to keep an open mind and try a longer cruise on a larger ship.  I had the chance to tour Oasis of the Seas in September 2011 and felt this should be the ship!

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What’s Important To You?

In business, there are a number of different business models a company can follow.  I think of department stores for example.  You have your discount department stores — stores that sell at everyday low prices.  You don’t necessarily have to wait for a sale, the prices are most of the time lower than sale prices elsewhere.  With this model, the focus is on giving the customer the lowest prices possible.  The purchasers for the company choose brands to carry based on price only.  In order for the company to make money, they have to sell large quantities.  They may also have to offer lower wages to their employees.

On the flip side, you have department stores that are concerned with building their customer base, offering pretty much the same merchandise as the discount department stores, but they are more concerned with the quality of their products.  You might be more likely to buy the store brand at this store because you know the quality is equal to the name brands at a lower cost.

Finally, you have to higher end department stores, some of which I wouldn’t even call department stores as they really don’t have everything.  They are not a one-stop shop.  They do pride themselves on offering top quality merchandise and top customer service.  You will pay more at this store, but you won’t be disappointed with the service and merchandise you receive.

What I’m trying to say is when selecting businesses that you deal with, you need to figure out what they offer both in terms of product and service and decide what is important to you.  In travel, the same is true.  I hear a lot of stories about the great gift card offers that Costco and other warehouse stores offer for booking travel through them.  However, if you want your reservation serviced, good luck!  They can’t afford to have agents service the reservations as they are giving away nearly all of the commission!  The same can be said about agencies that pay incredibly high onboard credits.  What are they paying their agents?  From past experience, I can say that if you don’t pay your agents what they are worth for the job they have to do, they won’t do it.  If service is not important, by all means, search for the best offer and book it.

I have worked with clients who have traveled frequently, understand how to book their own, yet choose to use my services.  When something goes wrong, they don’t panic, they call me and I take care of it.  They understand they are not getting the highest onboard credit or other perks for booking with me, yet they still come back and still refer their friends and family to me.  All of my agents can say the same thing.  This is because service is still important to people.

One thing I will caution you on is agents who rely on the laurels of the agency to make themselves out to be experts.  In one of the Facebook groups I belong to, someone asked a question about Disney Cruise Line and how something onboard would work.  An agent that works for an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner was asked to answer the question.  His answer was completely wrong, but he said it as an authority.  The person asking felt there was no reason to wait for another answer as it was obviously correct, no doubt because he worked for an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

Like my examples with the department stores, in travel there are various types of agencies and agents you will encounter.  Since the travel is basically the same, you are looking for the best service and the knowledge of the travel product you are buying.  Why settle for less?  Our agents don’t just “know Disney”, they have experienced it, they study it and continually learn more about it so they can pass that knowledge on to you.  They know the “fine tuning” that is needed for each individual client.  This isn’t a cookie cutter, one size fits all business.  Travel On A Dream is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and our agents working with Disney vacations are all graduates of the College of Disney Knowledge, have experienced Disney destinations many times and want to be your travel consultant.

Paying for a Travel Agent’s Services

I get asked this question all the time “How do I pay for your services?”  This got me thinking, there must be a lot of people that really don’t understand how a travel agent works and, more importantly, gets paid.

My usual response to that question is “You won’t pay anything, my fees are paid by X (being the travel supplier)”.  What I started to question is if people really understood what that meant.

As an independent travel agency, we are not owned by any travel supplier or work for them.  We are not on their payroll.  Instead, we make a commission off of our sales of their products.  It doesn’t cost you any more to use a travel agent, the travel suppliers charge you the same whether you use a travel agent or just go to them directly.

What this doesn’t mean is that every time we talk to a potential client, we are making money from the travel supplier.  In order to make a commission, we need to book the travel for you and take you through the travel.  If you cancel beforehand, in most cases, we do not make anything from the travel supplier.  We have all also had potential “clients” that ask for information, quotes and advice and then go and book on their own.  Basically they feel the travel agent should work for free.  While it is totally understandable when you have to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, deliberately using an agent to get all the information you need and booking on your own is not fair.

The majority of the people who come to us for a quote do end up booking and traveling so we don’t feel the need in most cases to charge service fees.  The exception to this is travel where the suppliers do not pay a commission (airfare, some tickets, some hotel stays).  In those cases we would charge a service fee (and advise you in advance of this).

 

What is Service?

When people I meet find out I don’t have any children, yet go to Disney World or on a Disney Cruise, they ask me why.  My answer is always “it’s the service”.  While walking around Universal Studios years ago, I recall myself saying “this is nice, but it’s no Disney World”.

I carry this over into all aspects of my life.  Repeatedly we find ourselves comparing different experiences and companies to Disney.  I have come to the realization that even though money doesn’t grow on trees, I would rather buy a product/service/etc. that has a great track record with quality and service than to save a few bucks.  Is it really worth it to get a 2-5% discount only to be frustrated with the lack of service or quality that I get?  For me, the answer is no.

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