Q – I am pleased to share that we have, like many of your followers, achieved critical mass for retirement. We can pretty much afford to travel anywhere and any way we choose. But our dilemma, I suppose, is that we believe top resort or top tier hotel stays provide everything we need. We will judge our future vacations by how many books we read and how many on-property meals exceed our standards. We just see total relaxation as our goal for the foreseeable future. So, I guess this is a two-part question?
Are there really advantages to using a travel advisor to make just hotel reservations or should we pursue the 8-10% direct booking discounts?
Secondly, which website do you feel is most reliable in terms of reading accurate reviews from users? Really appreciate your efforts:
A – Congratulations on “critical mass” attainment and what that will mean for your retirement:
If your travel consultant is a member of one of the leading industry consortium groups, you may well get preferred rates, an automatic upgrade if it is available, as well as on-site amenities such as included breakfast. You would have to make a judgment call as to whether those amenities are worth the money you might possibly save if the hotel is reimbursed, you’re the travel agent commission built into all pricing. It’s a tough call but since most hotels will fight you on the commission refund you are, in our mind, legally due, it is likely better not to worry about the booking and work with an agent who has connections at that particular resort or hotel. Just ask.
In terms of “reviews” from website users – we would suggest that you ignore them as a source of anything like real information. Good reviews can be purchased by hotels in bulk, and often are. So-called “review farms” are big business and any kind of reviews in any number are available to anyone willing to pay the price. This leaves the consumer as a hapless victim – it is nearly impossible to know if you are reading a “farm” produced review. Our recommendation is to ask your travel consultant to secure a copy of the ABC Report, professional, confidential hotel evaluations written for the top players in the industry by hotel executives and inspectors who are always undercover. Any agent should have access to these reports. They are not available online and can only be purchased by industry professionals.