SADDLE BROOK, N.J., Feb. 2 , 1998- A recent report about online booking services concluded that they are failing abysmally to live up to promises to find the "lowest" airfares.
"Trusting these claims can actually cost you hundreds
of dollars," notes L. William Chiles, president and CEO of Hickory Travel
Systems. "Consider that airline fares change at a rate of 187 per minute
and it stands to reason that you need professional expertise to help you
find your way through the maze." Hickory Travel Systems is a "supernetwork"
of independent travel agencies with more than 1,800 locations worldwide.
|#10. Do you really expect a Gucci watch for $25?
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. This goes not only for
street vendors offering "designer labels" but also for "lowest-fare" claims
on the Internet. With a professional travel agent, you get what you expect
-- and often much more.
#9. Even a mouse named Mickey couldn't produce these kind of "miracles" that quickly. Finding the lowest fares can be accomplished via a computer, but not at the single click of a mouse. It takes an experienced travel agent using multiple database sources to search out these fares.
#8. But did you try next door? Fares touted as the "lowest" vary -- in some cases by hundreds of dollars -- according to the online booking service visited. A travel agent checks all airlines and all fare configurations, saving travelers time and money.
#7. This week it's Joe's turn to low ball. There is no consistency as to which online booking service quotes the lowest fares. It varies day-by-day, week-by-week, almost as if they were taking turns.
#6. Sorry, we don't carry that brand. Some online booking services exclude certain airlines. A travel agent has no hidden agenda, no disguised loyalties.
#5. You may find that your airport bus driver also is your pilot. A travel agent can offer counsel about the quality and reliability of airlines as well as simple low prices.
#4. That online booking service may create dissent between seatmates. Can you really be sure that you did pay much more than the person
occupying the seat next to you? A travel agent knows, for example, that on a flight between New York and Miami one-way fares can vary anywhere between $79 and $426.
#3. You need a bed as well as a seat. A travel agent also will take care of your hotel reservations -- often saving you money on your room. Hickory member agencies, for example, have negotiated contracts with more than 3,500 preferred hotels worldwide to provide savings up to 45 percent off rack rates.
#2. Internet services won't be able to recommend the best spot for pierogis or a side trip to see the world's largest pothole. A travel agent uses professional knowledge and experience to recommend attractions and restaurants at your destination.
And the #1 top reason why online booking services are not ready for prime time (and why you should continue to use a travel agent): Because you'd rather pay peanuts than eat peanuts.
Only a qualified travel agent is able to genuinely search out the current availability of what truly are the lowest airfares. For the location of your nearest local Hickory agency contact Hickory Travel Systems, Park 80 Plaza East, Saddle Brook, NJ 07663, 201-843-0820.