Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Is An Unethical and Dishonest Travel Agency? - Holiday Travel of Lake Charles, Louisiana Is a Great Example Of What To Look For

The other day I posted an article on the Goldring Travel Facebook page concerning the 2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise.


I had various travel agent friends who "liked" the post and someone posted a cute comment about some dogs that are common to Norway (although they are of Finnish origin).  But then...I saw a post from Sonny Duplantis, of Holiday Travel, of Lake Charles, Louisiana posting his telephone number, the name of another travel agent and a host of wildly inaccurate information under the guise of being motivated only by a "support your local travel agent" desire.  I deleted the post and advised Facebook of the impropriety of same.

I also contacted Holiday Travel and, not surprisingly, I received an email back that it did nothing wrong.  So I did a bit of digging - saw that Sonny Duplantis, of Holiday Travel, was a textbook example of what to watch out for and thought, "What a great example of why travel agents have such a bad reputation".

And what a great companion article to the one I posted just the other day:

How Do You Effectively and Efficiently Book a Cruise by Yourself? You Don't!


The first thing I noticed was that its website: http://www.gowithholidaytravel.com is horribly written. The sentences are incomplete and the grammar is about as bad as it gets.  Warning:  If the travel agency's website that is trying to get your business is unprofessional and shows a lack of care, you probably are going to have issues with your booking also being unprofessional and dealt with a lack of care. 

The second thing I noticed is that Holiday Travel claims to be everything to everyone.  "Holiday Travel has  Luxury Division Travel Specialists. We can now help you with Seabourn, Silverseas, Cunard (Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Mary), Crystal, Viking, and Uniworld River Cruises along with Tauck and Insight Vacations. Princess cruise sailings from Baytown (Houston)
Royal Caribbean cruises  sailing now year round from Galveston. Go to www.GroupTrips.com/holidaytravel for all of our bus trips"

Once you get past the errors such as it is Silversea (not Silverseas) and it is Queen Mary 2 (not Queen Mary), and Viking River Cruises is not (and does not claim to be) luxury, nor is Princess or Royal Caribbean, you find a reference to "Bus Trips".  So I look and see that these bus trips are about as low end as possible offering only continental breakfasts (no other meals) and many evenings spent at "enroute hotels" a/k/a low end no-name motels.  I also noticed that its group trips are pretty much only bus trips and short Carnival/NCL cruises with a few longer ones thrown in...with no details provided.  Warning:  If the travel agency that is trying to get your luxury business is also selling low end $500 bus trips and short budget cruises there is a very high probability that it has no ability to properly service your inquiries and providing the proper nuanced information you personally would desire regarding cruises...no less luxury cruises. 

The third thing I noticed is that Holiday Travel has online cruise pricing while it claims "The prices we have and the prices you get directly from the cruise line or tour company (even if you are a member of their frequent travel plans or have a special offer) is the same and in some cases our prices are better." So I took a look at the pricing for the 2015 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Cruise and found that Holiday Travel is charging over $5,000 more for the same V4 suite I am offering...and it does not include any of the exclusive special events I am providing.  Warning:  If a travel agency claims it offers the same prices as the cruise line, RUN AWAY...especially if that dubious pitch immediately follows it's link to bus tours...because if it is offering you nothing and has no proven reputation, then you are asking for trouble.

The fourth thing I noticed is that it only has offerings for only a few vendors.  For example, Holiday Travel only offers river cruises from Viking and Avalon.  While there is nothing wrong with those lines (if they meet your desires), the fact is that there are many different river cruise lines, including more luxury orientated lines.  Warning:  If the travel agency seems to only offer a limited number of cruise lines you probably are going to be pushed into one of them even if it isn't the best match for you...either because they only sell a limited number of suppliers or they are not familiar with all of the options.

The fifth thing I noticed is that while Sonny said he was only suggesting that people use a local travel agent, it states right on the Holiday Travel website "1-888-xxx-xxxx (out of town)"! And, to make matters more dishonest, the website also makes a pitch for outside/part-time travel agents to work from their homes.  Warning:  If a travel agency claims to be focused on only selling locally, but actually isn't, it probably is being dishonest about other things too.

The sixth thing I noticed is the email address. If a travel agency can't establish an email address with its URL (like ripoff@gowithholidaytravels.com) which costs about $20 a year, there is a clear indication that the agency may not be all that it seems to be. There are a number of unfortunate people that have lost their vacations when a seemingly legitimate travel agency took their payments directly and the travel agency then did not pay the cruise lines, hotels or insurance companies.  Can you imagine turning over $20,000 for a luxury cruise to a company that makes it's money selling $600 bus trips and cruises?  While the lack of a customized email address may not be a strong indicator of such financial games, why risk it?  Warning:  Make sure the travel agency either has a long history of providing excellent service or your payments go directly to the supplier.  If the agency refuses to pay the suppliers directly: RUN AWAY.

I could go one, but by now you get the idea:  Holiday Travels of Lake Charles, Louisiana may be a legitimate travel agency, but it unquestionably engages in unethical and inappropriate conduct (such as posting on the Goldring Travel Facebook page a competing post with wildly inaccurate information...while charging over $5,000 more for the same cruise!).  So with that I paraphrase Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry:

In all of this excitement I kinda lost count.  Do you feel lucky?  Well...Do you?

When it comes to selecting a travel agency do your research.  Ask questions.  Check its website. While a great travel agent can be a tremendous value to you, unfortunately we all know of ones that can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare.  You are your best protection...and now you have a bit of a better idea how.

Now:  Interested in getting more information about your next luxury vacation?  Contact me...I really know what I am talking about and have the experience...with a focus on creating the best vacation for you and with the goal of booking your travel not one time, but for the rest of your life!

Call me at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com