By Kayla Fraser
Jan. 13, 2014
Rob MacDonald has been to Scotland a number of times.
But when the Gaelic teacher at Colonel Gray High School decided to take a group of students to Scotland to experience the Gaelic life, he called Jennifer Moss, a travel agent at The Travel Store in Charlottetown.
He wasn’t alone.
This time last year, between January to March, Moss had over 400 invoices in her files, all for people booking trips. It was great for her, since many people now like to book online.
“There certainly is a demographic that does [book online].”
But some people do prefer to have someone to talk to and get the reassurance that travel sites don’t always offer. Booking with online travel sites can be tricky, she said.
“The challenge with websites is you become responsible with the terms and conditions of booking.”
With a travel agent, you have a real person to talk to and get assistance from, she said.
MacDonald said travel agents have worked in the industry and know how to get the best deals and good connections.
“It’s also a lot easier. You can tell them where you want to go and when and they’ll book it all for you.”
He is not sure if travel agents are more trustworthy, because some sites such as Air Canada are trustworthy too, but some sites are fly-by-night places with all kinds of hidden fees or bogus bookings, he said.
“But there are shady travel agents too. It’s best to get references before you book with one.”
He doesn’t always use a travel agent, but he has on about half the trips he has taken. With a bigger group, like the one from this past year, it’s easier with a travel agent, he said.
For the 2007 Scotland trip and a trip to Egypt in 2006, he did all the bookings himself.
“If you know a lot about your destination, it’s cheaper and easier to book yourself.”
For now, he doesn’t have any major school trips to plan, because when he comes back he’s tired and doesn’t feel like doing another trip, he said.
If, in a few years, he has the opportunity to go on another trip, he may end up planning it.
“I’m really not expecting to go back to Scotland with a class, but you never know what will happen.”
This summer, he and his wife plan a trip to France for their 20th wedding anniversary, he said.
Moss said booking through an agency, in person and online, does create profits for the local business.
Some people don’t value travel agents and can get into trouble when something goes wrong with their trip. People who have trouble cannot contact the websites personnel.
With recent storms, one of Moss’s clients was stranded in Nebraska and was given the option of flying out three days later. Moss was able to get her client a flight the very next day.
“There are a lot of benefits in that regard.”