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How do you book your vacation to Cuba?

I book always online. Now I go to http://www.debbiescaribbeanresortreviews.com check if there are any nice reviews of the resorts in Cuba and I do search for the prices and I book online. Parents of my friend still have travel agent and they never book online as they are afraid to use credit card online. I never had problems using credit card online and I feel more secure buying online then giving someone else my credit card number. What about you? How do you book your vacation to Cuba?

I always read on-line reviews of the resorts that interest me (smaller with bungalows). I narrow down that way first then I look on line to see what the pricing is. When I’m ready, I call my TA and she matches it for me. I always start watching pricing about 3 maybe 4 months ahead so I know what it was at it’s highest and then try to judge if the price will go down more. So far I’ve been able to grab pretty good deals. I think, out of 10 trips (with the 11th coming) I’ve only missed th best pricing once, and that was only $90 less than what I paid.

I also search online. When I find the resort I like, I call my agent - Holiday Market Travel (rick) and book with him. I still have the need to talk to a person when I book.

I read about where I want to go. I’ve had a number of resorts on my list that I’m making my way through one at a time. Once we’ve decided on a date I look on line, find a price I can live with, grab my credit card and print my e-tickets.

Count me in as one who does my own research, but uses a travel agent for the actual booking. My TA matches online prices, and I know she has my back if there are any issues. This has paid off for me more than once, particularly in 2008 when I had a one night visit to Cuba, courtesy of Hurricane Paloma. When I got home, I called my TA and she took it from there. I happened to be in touch with someone on my flight who had booked on line. He and his wife spent the next several days on the phone, on hold, arguing, etc. etc. He had a very hard time getting satisfaction, and in the end only managed to get proper compensation because I was in touch with him and made him aware of what my TA had been able to arrange. (which was full credit for every dime I had spent, including my Club Class. Not in cash, but credit for my next trip, which was fine with me)

On other occasions my TA has managed to get me deals that I thought were off the table, because I had waited too long and the trip had disappeared from the on line listing. She has also managed to get a seat on the plane re allocated to the hotel I wanted, when all of the allotment for that hotel had been reserved. Not to mention, she counsels me about when to book, when to wait, tells me how many seats are still available on the plane, etc. A good TA is worth gold!!

Wow it is very interesting how this poll goes so far. I see now some of the benefits of using travel agent that I simply forgot about. It is interesting to see what other members will say.

a bit hard for me to vote because I do research…but then over the phone
book with a travel agent

Kind of hard for me to answer because I do my research online, then 9 out of 10 will book online… with a reputable travel agency, agent contact info and all.

We did have a travel agent when we first began going South, but we just got tired of “waiting” several days for answers to our questions :frowning:

I do all of my own research.

If I think it’s a “hot deal” (less than 6 seats available),I immediately book on-line. Otherwise I phone the agent I’ve been using for the past 3 years at itravel2000 via the toll free number and book with him.

[quote=@yvrck]I do all of my own research.

If I think it’s a “hot deal” (less than 6 seats available),I immediately book on-line. Otherwise I phone the agent I’ve been using for the past 3 years at itravel2000 via the toll free number and book with him.
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except we use a travel agent we met in Playa Pesquero 3 years ago. she is with Sell offs vacations and she can usually take $$ off the already great deal we found. !

I book online with Holiday market Travel, although sometimes directly through the Nolitours or Transat website. I stopped using travel agents along time ago. I did have a good agent at one point, she retired and was replaced with this numbskull who was only interested in selling vacations to the Dominican Republic. He told me that “no one goes to Cuba, why would I want to go there?”

After that I did everything my self, seeing as I have access to the same information that they do.

We do our pricing on line and book with a Rewards travel agency for points and extra health and cancellation insurance.
Rewards agency knocks 5% off best price on line and another 2% in points. Extra, free health coverage on top of our Group Plan.
Have to beat a storm so we’re grabbing an earlier flight in an hour. YUL then CYO.

[quote=@sssnakesalive]

After that I did everything my self, seeing as I have access to the same information that they do.[/quote]
Can you tell me how many seats are left on a flight I am interested in booking? My TA can…

Just adding to my reply above…

I like the idea that I have someone at home if something happens while I’m Cuba. Someone that “knows” me and wants my butt home. This day and age, you never know when some stupid terrorist thing might happen or just a hurricane. Also, My TA has informed me of possible problems like a pool closure at the resort. Had this happen one trip and ended up being bumped from a 4* to a 5*. Tell me your on-line site will do that!

[quote=@eeeefarm][quote=@sssnakesalive]After that I did everything my self, seeing as I have access to the same information that they do.[/quote]Can you tell me how many seats are left on a flight I am interested in booking? My TA can…
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I guess that’s something that doesn’t matter to me. With Transat, who I usually fly with, I know if Club Class is available and and can see which seats I’m picking. So all is well in my little corner of the universe.

But I think as far as booking the actual vacation, I spend more time researching where and when I want to go according to the best prices available than the travel agent would.

[quote=@eeeefarm]Count me in as one who does my own research, but uses a travel agent for the actual booking. My TA matches online prices, and I know she has my back if there are any issues. This has paid off for me more than once, particularly in 2008 when I had a one night visit to Cuba, courtesy of Hurricane Paloma.

On other occasions my TA has managed to get me deals that I thought were off the table, because I had waited too long and the trip had disappeared from the on line listing. She has also managed to get a seat on the plane re allocated to the hotel I wanted, when all of the allotment for that hotel had been reserved. Not to mention, she counsels me about when to book, when to wait, tells me how many seats are still available on the plane, etc. A good TA is worth gold!![/quote]Sounds like we may have the same Travel Agent!
She taught us from day one, in how to make a personal list of “deal breakers” or “must haves” ~ it really helps to know yourself, in what you “truly” are looking for in a vacation… leads to a lot less heartache in the end.

Our TA’s an angel, works out of her home, works hard for us, and has had “our back” on numerous occasions, as well. We have a couple of similar stories where she’s fought for our rights to fair treatment. I don’t know what we’d do without her! :slight_smile:

We also do our own research, as we don’t want to bother her with all the little questions. She does so much for us already, I don’t want to use up her time in that regard… haha, sometimes she’ll even contact me to ask about a resort or two!

We’ve only had to book online once or twice in the past 15 years, only due to the fact that she was on vacation when we found deals online. But fortunately, that doesn’t happen much any more, due to the “connectivity” of our world today.

GG

I used to book with a TA all the time when I first started going. I would pick up 2-3 different travel guides from her from different travel companies. Look through them and then pick out a few that interested me, then call her for prices and deals etc.

But very time consuming, not that uptodate and became much easier to research things myself online, compare prices etc.

Now I book 9/10 myself online directly with the travel company. If I am not in a rush, or its not a last minute deal, I will then book it through her.

Like everything else in life, the internet has changed the way we do things, espically when it comes to travel!

[quote=@sssnakesalive]
But I think as far as booking the actual vacation, I spend more time researching where and when I want to go according to the best prices available than the travel agent would. [/quote]
Oh, I don’t doubt that for a minute! No travel agent has the time to spare to do extensive research for every client. I do my own work on that but use my TA for booking. How much room is left on the plane can determine whether I book now or feel safe waiting, hoping for a price drop. If things are wide open, I can feel pretty confident that I am only gambling on price, not availability. (usually it’s the plane that fills up, not the hotel, especially in the off season).

As far as someone “having your back”, my TA checks her voice mail regularly in “off hours”, and in an emergency she is available. She has handled such issues as someone whose spouse died while on vacation. My TA did all the arranging for the distraught survivor, including a lot of “hand holding” phone calls, until she was safely back in Canada. I doubt your on line service would step up like that.

I voted online but actually my first 2 Cuba trips were through a travel agent I worked with in my busing business as I didn’t even own a computer at the time.

Since then though I have been doing my own research and booking online, only using travel agents for some train/bus tickets and travel insurance for trips over 30 days which weren’t covered by credit cards.

[quote]As far as someone “having your back”, my TA checks her voice mail regularly in “off hours”, and in an emergency she is available. She has handled such issues as someone whose spouse died while on vacation. My TA did all the arranging for the distraught survivor, including a lot of “hand holding” phone calls, until she was safely back in Canada. I doubt your on line service would step up like that.

[/quote]
As far as “hand holding”, I don’t need any of that from a service provider, I’m too pig headed to ever expect that from anyone… :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve had decent service just calling up companies directly when I’ve had questions. I can’t still conceive of a problem where I would depend on my travel agent while I was away. Maybe I’ve been lucky up until now.

When I deal with Holiday Market Travel, it is very similar to dealing with a TA that you can drop in on. Even though I book online, I can phone them and ask questions. They actually have a bricks and mortar location in Ontario. When hurricane Sandy hit a year or two ago and demolished my hotel destination, they arranged with Sunwing for my refund and took care of all the problems. So, i guess what I am saying is just because someone has a website, it doesn’t make them totally faceless. They always notify me of schedule changes, even though I check my booking online with the airline myself, periodically.

So maybe I should say that I am using a TA that has an internet presence.