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This question is specifically for the UK travel agents, but I would assume the answer would be applicable everywhere.

I'm currently preparing to book a family holiday in Europe (probably Spain, Greece or Turkey). My perception of travel prices is that they have increased massively over the last two years, and I was wondering what the scope was for negotiation. I've heard from various web-sites and anecdotally that travel agents can be open to offers, although so far have never tried.

Typically, does a travel agent have discretion for dropping the price and, if so, by what kind of percentage? Alternatively, is this a more likely option if I contact the hotel directly?

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    Don't forget to look at online travel agents (e.g. expedia/lastminute etc.), as well as considering booking the whole holiday yourself. Booking hotels and flights is very straightforward in this day and age, and sometimes can save you money (although a family holiday to a "standard" tourist destination such as you mention is often where a travel agent can save you money). – Andrew Ferrier Dec 29 '14 at 15:44
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    You can probably save much more by booking travel somewhere less expensive, e.g. Portugal, Jordan, Croatia. So many lovely places to see, and in slightly less-popular spots you're more likely to get better hotel deals by simply turning up on the day (unless you're after five stars in which case better book online). – John Zwinck Dec 30 '14 at 3:27
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No experience specifically with the UK, but in general, commissions paid to travel agents are both low and fixed, which makes negotiating a bit pointless.

For example, if they sell you a $1000 flight ticket, they might get 2% ($20) as commission. Even if you manage to cut that in half through negotiation, they lose half their incentive, and you only save ten bucks. Hotels tend to pay higher commissions (eg. 10% at Hyatt), so there's a bit more room to budge, but that's still only $100 off $1000.

So instead of trying to shave pennies off a given price, you're probably better off looking at cheaper destinations or resorts, or just booking online and arranging everything yourself, Most booking engines these days have "hotel plus flight" packages that give you access to exactly the same deals as brick and mortar travel agents, only with lower overhead and thus lower commissions.

  • My experience is rather different. Travel agents do get a fixed commission from hotels, but they can charge you more. Say, a hotel + flight package is $2000, and they can keep a $300 profit for themselves while getting their cut from airline and hotel. I dint usually use travel agents but I could bargain to an amount lower than their reasonable commission that one would imagine. – Ayesh K Dec 30 '14 at 15:14
  • Sure, they can charge you more than the actual cost, but if they're doing that, it's an even better idea to book directly/online instead. – jpatokal Dec 31 '14 at 1:05

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