What’s the benefit of using a travel agent? Aren’t travel agencies so last century !?
It’s true: Years ago your first and last call for international travel was to your travel agent. Now, you have so many websites vying for your travel businesses that savvy and patient travelers can (usually) arrange their own travel. But even today—or perhaps especially today—there are some good reasons to use a reputable travel agent.
- Knowledge. We have first-hand intimate knowledge of countries, cities, airports, and other conditions all over the world. We may well know factors to make your journey a better experience than you’ll ever learn from an online ticket and lodging provider.
- Experience. Trying to make at 60-minute connection at London Heathrow? Good luck! Planning to take a taxi or (worse yet!) rent a car at Tokyo Narita? Yikes! When we search for your itinerary, we take into account all the factors that you may not know. Our expertise is in negotiating through all the criteria that make a journey as smooth sailing as it can be.
- Consultation. We want to talk to you, understand what type of traveler you are, and what kind of adventure you’re hoping for. Let’s work together to identify the locations, accommodations, and activities that are right for you. Even if it is just friendly advice, that’s something you won’t find online.
- LTR. That is, long-term relationship. We want to earn your travel business today, next month, next year, and for the decade ahead. Once we know who you are, what you enjoy, where you’ve been, and where you’d like to go next, we can become your partner. When we hear about a deal or learn something new that might be of particular interest to you, we’ll let you know. That’s “Classic Service” in action.
- Simplicity. Need to land in London, train to Milan, drive to Athens, boat to Haifa, and fly home from Amman? You could spend hours and hours online researching how to put that together (some people like that, and we are among them). But most people want the time-savings and simplicity of giving us a call and letting us work out the details. That’s why we’re here.
- Assistance. We offer help when you need it. We are here for you when things don’t go according to plan. If something runs afoul on an itinerary that we planned and booked for you, we will do our best to assist you. We can’t make promises that we can move heaven and earth for you at a moment’s notice, but we’ll work to get you out of a fix as best as we are able to.
How do I know that Pat & Mike’s Company will deliver their services as promised?
Well, your first time with us, we suppose you don’t. But we stand behind our quarter-century of service and the thousands of satisfied travelers that we’ve had the honor of serving. We are proud to be a small, independent company that will go the extra mile to earn your business. Our reputation and livelihood depend on us delivering on our promises. Unlike huge travel companies that book hundreds or thousands of itineraries a day through hundreds of agents, we’re just us. You’ll find the same three or four people here at Pat and Mike’s Travel Company every time. We hope you’ll allow us to earn your trust.
Are you licensed, bonded, or registered with accrediting organizations?
Here’s a short list of some of the licenses and accreditations we hold:
- International Association of Travel Agents (IATA)
- Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC)
- Certified Travel Advisor (CTA)
- Applicable city and state business licenses
- Insurance bonded
Can I learn more about Pat & Mike’s Travel Company tours from someone outside the company?
We respect the privacy of all our travel friends. On the other hand, there is no better advertising than word-of-mouth testimonials. We are currently piloting a program to gain permission from some of our long-time clients who would be willing to discuss particular Group Trips with you if you are interested in learning more. There is no reward for this, and we encourage them to be completely honest—we know that there is no benefit in misrepresenting something and ending up with a disappointed customer. If you are interested in taking advantage of this program, please let us know!
Why don’t the group tour prices include air tickets?
There are several reasons why we don’t include air fare in the price of the tours:
- Many people like to use their own miles and choose their airlines and routes to make the most of their particular mile plan. If we were to reserve a block of seats ahead of time, everyone would be locked into that one choice.
- Sometimes travelers like to go ahead of the group for a few days, or add on days at the end of a tour. Allowing everyone to make their own arrangements makes it easy to accommodate individual plans.
- The days where agents could simply block seats on a flight months ahead of time are unfortunately gone. It is possible, but the process is complicated and sometimes more expensive. We’d rather concentrate on creating a fantastic itinerary than wrestling with the airlines to reserve seats that may or may not be used.
Can you help me with unusual itineraries or requests?
Absolutely, yes. We are happy to take on the challenge of unusual requests and itineraries. Talk with us and let’s find the best solution for you.
Why do you ask for Group Tours deposits and payments so far in advance?
We begin planning each of our custom-design Group Tours up to a year or more in advance. We contact our trusted small-business partners in the location(s) of the tour and work together to carefully plan out the locations, activities, lodgings, meals, and logistics of the trip. Once we lock in on an agreeable outline of the trip, our partner will secure rooms, internal transportation, and other functions, making reservations on our behalf. Depending on the specifics of the itinerary, they require some, half, or all payments in advance. We then let you know how far in advance you need to throw some money in to reserve your spot. It is sometimes months ahead of time, so contact us if you even have an idea that you may want to join one of our tours, and we’ll make sure you have all the information you need to make a decision by the time deposits are due.
Can I join a tour at the last minute?
It is sometimes possible to join one of our group tours at the last minute. In most cases, however, it is not. Rooms, flights, and other accommodations have been secured well in advance, making it impossible to add on new travelers within the last weeks or days before a journey. You never know, though, so contact us and we’ll see what we can do.
Do you give refunds if my plans change?
Each trip and personal itinerary will have its own refund policy. Make sure you understand what the refund policies are before you buy! For our Group Tours, we have a graduated refund structure, and we’ll let you know how much in advance you can cancel to receive between 100% and 0% (last minute) refund on a trip. Travel insurance can be a great way to refund most or all of your money should you need to cancel at the last minute, so ask us about insurance for your next trip.
What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa and MasterCard, PayPal transfers, money orders, cashier’s checks, and personal checks.
What’s your favorite destination?
It’s amazing how frequently we are asked this question, and we never know how to respond. Or rather, it begs a question in response: “For what?” For adventure? For scenic beauty? For beach relaxation? For beach and nightlife? For high culture? For the exotic? If you are fishing for ideas about where to go and what to do on your next venture overseas, we’d love to share some great ideas. Let’s talk about what kind of vacation you are looking for.
Do you have a specific area(s) of expertise?
As the famous quote says, “We haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on our list.” While we don’t have a particular area of concentration (like South America, China, Australia, etc.), we consider ourselves well-versed and versatile to accommodate destinations around the globe. If we don’t have first-hand experience in your location of interest, we will research and track down experts in that country or city to make sure you get your questions answered. Also, if you are interested in a tour to a location we are not currently carrying, we will introduce you to a trusted partner for you to investigate. That’s our job! Go ahead, throw us a challenge… it’s what makes our job fun.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is basically a travel protection plan. Depending on the type of coverage you choose, travel insurance can reimburse you for lost luggage, missed connections, flight or baggage delays, and/or provide services like emergency evacuation and medical coverage. Every policy is different. Often, cruise lines and tour operators provide optional travel insurance. You can also purchase a policy from an insurance company. We recommend Travel Insured. Our clients have had good experiences with them in the unfortunate event they needed to rely on their protections.
What are your hours of operation?
We are generally “open” during normal business hours, Pacific Time. However, if you have ever owned or been around small businesses, you know that a small business is never really “closed.” Don’t be surprised if we pick up on a weekend or respond to your email late at night. Flexibility is one of the appeals of running our own independent business. Someone checks phone and email messages throughout the day, pretty much every day.
What’s the best way to contact you?
We are happy to hear from you in whatever way you are comfortable with. We love email, as it allows us to keep a record of your requests and to follow the conversation trail through the days or weeks. Phone and regular mail are great,
outside Portland: 800-898-9963