I've seen it so many times that I feel it’s time to write a blog about it. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Costco, BJ's, and Sam's Club Travel.
“Everybody is saying book through them. You'll get a great price.”
But do you really?
Getting a great price vs getting a great value - that’s what we need to discuss.
What's more important? Saving $200 and not having an advocate on your side or supporting a small business with the benefit of knowing we will be there in the middle of the night for you. Will Costco answer the phone at 1:00 AM? Will Costco surprise you with a bottle of wine on arrival night? How about custom itineraries? Call Costco and ask them to put together a customized trip, ideal for your wants and needs, and get back to me. I get it - you’re on a tight budget and want the best bang for your buck.
But allow me to share with you a recent example of why you should use a travel agent.
We recently had clients planning a Bucket List trip - one they had to put off. They finally decided they were going - no matter what. I was contacted, and three weeks later they’re on a plane (right now!) headed for their destination. In those three weeks:
We contacted 3 locations for PCR testing to make sure everything would go smoothly. Covid regulations are no joke right now, but they didn't have to worry about any of the arrangements!
I was able to get them a partial refund on a non-refundable plane ticket (3-hour phone call).
I was able to change their non-changeable return flight home (a $1500 savings and another 3-hour phone call) when they decided to extend their trip last minute by 3 days.
We vetted 3 tour operators - making sure that the one we picked would be perfect for their needs for this once-in-a-lifetime vacation. They even got to meet with the owner of the company when they arrived! True VIP's
I worked directly with the tour operator - emailing and calling him dozens of times (I think I need to send him a cake or something lol).
We modified their itinerary multiple times, and again saved them $ by modifying. They had access to it right on their LTC provided phone app so when they were in destination, they could see the changes happening before their eyes.
I answered every call, text, email, question, and eased their worries. They never had to go to a FB group and ask questions about their trip that Costco cannot and will not answer. And if they call me at 1:00 AM - you can be certain that I will answer my phone (because I gave them that emergency overnight phone number!).
Warren Buffett summed it up perfectly when he said "Price is what you pay; value is what you get."