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To use a Travel Agent? A personal opinion

A few words from one of our clients on his experience with using a Travel Agent.

Over the years I have travelled extensively both for holidays and work, particularly to Asia, Middle East and South Africa. Most of the time I have booked through an agent, mainly because it can be a bit easier and less hassle and also because if there is a problem, it is likely to be far easier to claim from a UK agent than some company in a foreign land! The exceptions to this are booking flights directly through BA (where I have a silver card) and hotels/guest houses in places that I know, where I would potentially use online.

In the past I have tended to use big agents, but have been finding that their pricing is completely opaque and you have no idea what you are paying for what, or if the overall price is reasonable.

Over the past few years, we have undertaken a number of cruises and for them have used Ponders Travel. We have found them extremely helpful and flexible and prepared to discuss the pricing of individual elements. Also, when things don’t go right, they are very helpful. As an example, a recent trip to Burma for a cruise on the Andaman Sea and then the Irrawaddy could have been booked with Pandaw directly. For the reasons above, I booked through Ponders. The price was the same and they booked some internal flights and I booked the international ones and hotels in Bangkok. In the event, 3 hours before we left home from the airport, they phoned to say that the first part of the package had had to be cancelled by Pandaw (not their fault but to do with Burmese red tape!)
Ponders sorted out an alternative while we were on our way to Bangkok – which worked very well, and then negotiated appropriate compensation (which turned out to be very generous). There was no way that we could have done this directly because we were on the plane and later on the boat with very limited internet. This service didn’t add anything to the price.

Following on from that experience, I wanted to book a package to the Red Sea for the family for next Christmas. I tried Thomson etc, but it was proving difficult, particularly because of limited flights. I passed the problem on to Ponders and very quickly I was presented with a couple of alternatives via a specialist company. Now booked something which seem very good, and not available from the big boys and at a price that is cheaper than Thomson were quoting.

I am now considering a cruise in Laos next year and will certainly be booking that through Ponders.



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