Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent | Travel

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.
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Landfill Industry Statistics and the Structure and Behaviour of the Landfill Industry | Industrial

IntroductionLandfill industry statistics have been remarkably few and inaccurate until recently, and the change toward the collection and use of data, providing waste types and quantities as landfill statistical data, is only now becoming important. This is due to the fact that governments and industry are starting to see waste as a resource and a commodity worthy of investment, and need good waste flow data on which to base their investments.The landfilling of waste probably ranks amongst one of the longest established industries. As soon as people started to congregate in communities, there must have been people digging what were known as “middens” to take human solid waste, and charging for the service.But, while nobody did anything much other than throw it into a hole by the truckload very few cared, what or how much, was being thrown. So, even the quantity discarded was poorly recorded. Landfill industry statistics were thought of as being of little interest or value, and very little was done, let alone the recording of tonnages against a nationally or internationally recognized register to classify in a consistent manner all of the vast number of waste material types.So, the result has been that in many nations, government statistics are only available historically for total tonnages of waste sent to landfill, and in many countries the make-up of that waste was only very scantily recorded at a national level, if at all.This was the case in the UK until the early 2000′s, but has been improving since.The Main Influences on Landfill Industry StatisticsThe emergence of the EU Waste Register has altered all that, and it now makes financial sense to collect this data, for the purpose of understanding the individual waste flows for the implementation of re-use, and recycling.So, that covers the development of landfill industry data collection, and is important to the waste re-use and recycling community, however, very many investors would like to understand landfill industry statistics, in order to assess the potential profitability of landfills for investment purposes.With that in mind let us consider the way in which landfill industry statistics could assist such decisions in the assessment of landfills as a profitable business, but in general don’t help that much.With only modest changes in technology over the last 10 to 20 years and little opportunity for differentiation, landfilling is accurately described as a mature industry. There are minimal barriers to entry once the operator has complied with the requirement to show that a landfill operator is a “fit and proper person” by taking a course and obtaining a Certificate of Technical Competence (CoTC) in landfilling. This means that new landfill companies are constantly being created, bringing new pricing dynamics in the area they originate.The industry also conforms to the concept of a competitive model when viewed for the nation as a whole. Under these conditions, operators see obtaining market share achieved by price competition, to be the dominant objective of most landfill operators and rightly so, too.As a result, landfill market prices are, in general, dictated by the lowest price in each catchment area. Catchment areas are defined by the high cost of transport of waste, and to a lesser extent by the philosophy of local authority waste management practice which is to tend to wish to dispose of waste in the locality of its generation to avoid hostility from the voting public toward transhipment of waste between regions, and urban areas.As with the majority of mature industries, the landfill business has also undergone substantial consolidation in recent years as operators attempt to increase market share and achieve economies of scale. In fact there is hardly any big waste disposal industry player not to have made acquisitions in the last decade. The effect of this upon landfill industry statistics has been to make disposal costs and quantities disposed sub-regionally even harder to establish as mergers result in large changes in shipping routes and landfill destinations after each merger. Such changes happen inter-company and are rarely transparent within the data.Despite the many mergers, the fact that the industry is now more concentrated in fewer companies than before, by other industry standards it is still fragmented and again this impairs the usefulness of landfill industry statistics, with widely varying profitability levels co-existing regionally.ConclusionIn practice when interpreting landfill industry statistics and how charges for landfilling, and hence landfill profitability varies, it is most important to remember that because transport costs, represent a very significant proportion of total waste management costs, landfill markets operate very much on a regional basis.This means that a degree of local monopoly power can exist in areas where most of the landfills are operated by the same company. In such areas, general landfill industry statistics may not reflect actual profitability levels.This happens when landfill companies find that they are able to control a significant proportion of the landfill capacity, and manipulate landfill gate fees upward. In the UK this has happened in areas like Bedfordshire, where one company has a substantial presence. In such situations, prices can be raised to levels above competitive market rates and operators may, in the short term, earn abnormally high profits.Ultimately, the landfill investor should in general not rely on landfill industry statistics when considering the likely return on landfill operating company investment, and there is no substitute for detailed and specific market research on local gate fees and landfill development costs as apply to specific sites.
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