After 26 years in the travel industry I consider myself a travel educator. I talk to people every day that need education – where they want to go, what there is to see and do in each place, what the categories of hotels, rooms, inclusions mean, just to name a few.
With the information that is currently available on line, the customer quite often comes to the agent or into the agency with a firm handle on what they would like to book. There are times when they are so sure of what they want, they book on line and book the wrong thing. This story is one of those times.
I answered the phone the other day to a woman who had already embarked on her family cruise out of New York for March break. She was very upset and had already spoken to two or three different agents and since she wasn’t getting the answers she wanted, she was more and more distraught.
When I was finally able to get her reservation number I pulled up her file to read the notes on the file. She booked online the day before. She booked what is called a guarantee cabin. What that means is that she is not assigned a cabin number at the time of the booking. Due to the last minute nature of the booking, she would be given her cabin at the pier.
She researched her cruise and wanted a specific cabin, a family mini suite which has a bathtub. She knew the square footage, the location of the cabins, that it had a bathtub so she could bathe her child (travelling with two small children). That all sounds great, except that is not what she booked. She booked a family suite, and on guarantee so a specific cabin number would not be booked.
She refused to listen to three agents tell her the same thing. She booked on line which means that she is her own travel agent. She chose the promotion she booked which was a B2 Guarantee, not a Family Mini suite as she wanted. Over and over she said that ‘we’ changed the booking and downgraded her without her knowledge. I said, how could we do that. We did not make the booking, you made the booking. No, someone took over my reservation at your company and changed my cabin.
Of course the ship was full. It is a march break sailing and she booked the day before the cruise, which is even surprising she found a family balcony suite to begin with. The cruise line told her that there was nothing they could do. She was now demanding we give her the credit difference from the category that she “thought” she booked. I told her that was not going to happen. She wasn’t happy with that and wanted to speak to someone above me.
Be an educated consumer. If you are going to be booking on line please ensure that you review in full what you are booking for yourself before you put your credit card in and confirm your reservation. Once it is booked, you are fully responsible for your actions. There is no turning back. This client was so upset about the error of the reservation (and not accepting any liability for it) that she has probably ruined her vacation because of it. A vacation she said was ten years in the making since they were married and had two children.
Is that worth it? When in doubt, book with a professional. That is what we are here for. To educate and provide professional travel services.
Travel safe, travel smarter.