Decided to book a holiday for the autumn back to Fiji, where we went back in Jan 2008, and as I got the brochures from a local travel agent, thought I'd do my bit to support local industry and customer service by booking the trip through them.
Well, all I can say is I don't know how these local travel agents survive! After spending three hours sitting across the desk from the agent, I came home completely frustrated, got in touch with the online agent I used last time and had answers to my questions within minutes, a tailor-made quote for what I wanted (with comparative quotes for two other options) and the trip booked!
I know the local agents must suffer a bit from the online competition, but honestly, you'd think their staff would be trained a bit better than they are! Shouldn't they be aware, being in Adelaide for instance, that the daily direct flight operated by Virgin Blue to Nadi gets in too late for the last ferry to the islands, and be able to offer you solutions and options accordingly?? I used to work in tour and travel organising in the UK many years ago so have some idea of the different options/methods/things to consider, but hate to think what would happen to someone who relied solely on their local agent to sort out their trip for them!
For anyone thinking of booking an international holiday, I can highly recomment the girls at www.travelonline.com, and www.tripadvisor.com is invaluable for doing your own research! (For instance, local travel agent quoted price of $54 per person to get car transfer from airport to Denerau Port, a quick search through Tripadvisor gave taxi prices for the same trip as $25 a taxi - bit more civilised than over $200 for the four of us!)