Because I’ve spent the past many years traveling for work, I haven’t had much time or desire for leisurely travel. And traveling with little kids wasn’t always the easiest. But this past summer was different. My son, Edward, told me last year that he wanted to travel, to see the world. Planning the trips wasn’t easy, as I wasn’t sure which hotels to stay in, which places offered the best values, and best times and ways to book our trips.
RECENT TRIP TO THE REGENCY HOTEL IN NY WAS AN EYE OPENER
My brother and sister-in-law recently took my nephew, Justin, to NY for a weekend. They were so proud of the amazing rate they were able to get through Orbitz. For somewhere in the low $200’s, they were able to get a room at one of my favorite hotels, the Loew’s Regency in NY. I couldn’t believe the rate–a rate that I hadn’t been able to secure in years, since right after 9/11.
THE ARTIFICIALLY LOW HOTEL RATE QUOTED BY ORBITZ
Orbitz said in fine print that upgrades may be available upon arrival, but that they couldn’t guarantee the room you get when you book through them. Unfortunately, when my brother, sister-in-law and nephew got to the famed Regency Hotel, they discovered they would be sleeping in a room with 2 twin beds—something unacceptable for the 3 of them. So they went to the front desk, spoke with a reservations clerk and were able to upgrade to a room with 2 doubles—for an extra $100, of course.
PROBLEMS WITH ORBITZ, EXPEDIA, PRICELINE AND OTHER ONLINE TRAVEL COMPANIES
1) The rate you are promised promises you nothing—wait til you see your room. No online or in-person guarantees of a room type or that your view won’t be the parking lot!
2) When you need to change your travel plans, good luck finding someone who picks up the phone to help you.
3) Changing your travel plans will require you to spend a hefty change fee, with no added benefits.
4) With online travel agencies you won’t usually be allowed to take advantage of all the freebies, miles, rewards and other ways the travel industry is extending to nearly every human being on Earth right now.
5) Travel websites are hard to use and are inefficient when you need to change your plans.
CONSIDER USING A WORLD-CLASS TRAVEL AGENT
I recently asked my friend, Erin, how she always plans the best trips, and how she keeps her kids so happy on vacation, even when traveling great distances. Erin was excited to share her little travel secret with me. As Erin travels all over the world to spend time with her husband and children, as her husband travels a lot for work, she has found that having the right travel agent is key to happy travels. Erin referred me Paul Klein Travel, in Chicago, a corporate travel agency, where I turned over my business and headaches. Through using Paul Klein Travel, I have been able to secure the best seats, best rooms, best hotels, best upgrades and packages, and yes, best prices. I have tried to comparison shop the trips I have taken using Paul Klein, in almost 100% of the cases, Paul Klein Travel has beat everyone.
CORPORATE TRAVEL AGENTS’ VOLUME BUSINESS GOOD NEWS FOR VACATIONING FAMILIES
The beauty of traveling with a corporate travel agency is that you can book great vacations at well-known hotel chains and resorts, and take advantage of the corporate travel agency’s great rates. Paul Klein, as it turns out, is one of only 80 travel agencies that “partners” with hotel chains like the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, among many other great chains–chains that are often expensive and have little in the way of a rewards program. Through Paul Klein, we were able to stay in some great spots and take advantage of the opportunities to see different places we may not otherwise know about.
BENEFITS OF USING A CORPORATE TRAVEL AGENT–WHAT YOU SHOULD ASK FOR
1) Alerts if prices drop or are about to go up so you can secure the best air/hotel packages
2) Resort credits that average between $100-300 per trip—credits that may include meals or spa packages; even high tea and room service breakfasts—free with your travel agent relationship.
3) Instant phone calls made to the manager of a hotel to request a room change or upgrade on your behalf–something you may not be able to secure on your own.