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View Full Version : Should your LDS's dive trip be a better price than you can put together for yourself?



SYOTABUCS
09-18-2007, 16:27
We really like our LDS and have met a lot of nice folks. We bought our BC's, Reg's and computer from them as well. (And they did figure out a way to improve on the normal retail price) (We were able to use a mysterious "CREDIT" we had on our account And also got a 10% discount by joining the dive team) We used the 10% discount on all training and purchases.

They have a social 3-4 times a year where you can meet other local divers and talk about diving stuff. Us being newbies we wanted to get some info on places to go.

BUT. the prices they list for their trips seem very high compared to what I could book the same trip. I know they are probably getting a person or 2 for free but as much as we would like to go with them we can take 3 similar trips a year for what they want for 2. Is this the norm? We were in the other day and were ask why we had not signed up for any of the trips and I ask her if she wanted me to be honest? So I told her as nice as I could that their prices were to high. So is it normal to pay an extra 400-500 pp for LDS planned trips vs. what you can book the same trip.

Not bashing them just wondering. They have treated us great otherwise.

diversteve
09-18-2007, 17:12
You'd think so but I've always found it cheaper to do it myself.

A lot of resorts/liveaboards comp a diveop at between 10-16 paid reservations. One of my lds's says this isn't true but I called the same boat that they booked and was told that I'd be free if I filled 12 slots on the boat. I even had a dive travel agent (Aquadreams) offer me the comp if I had my friends all book thru them.

We prefer to book ourselves. Diveop sponsored trips are for those who don't have the time, ability or resources to find their own deals - or would like someone to go to locally if there's problems during the trip. I've found the best deals by booking direct via the airline web sites and contacting the resorts/diveops via phone or e-mail/website. In one case, we were upgraded to a premium condo after I called the condo rental agency, the upgrade wasn't on their booking web page.

I've read that smaller LDS's resell packages from travel consolidators with an add-on. So you might expect those to be a little higher. But we have two local LDS's with dedicated dive travel agencies on-site. We did sort of an easy trip last year so I gave them both all the details, even specific to the resorts we were interested in, and asked them for a quote. Neither came back within $400pp of what I did with a little web searching and $10 in overseas phone calls.

ScubaToys Larry
09-18-2007, 17:43
I'll tell you the main problem from the shop perspective. The travel agency screws us... pretty much as dive shop owners.

If we want to block out a group of 16 or so, they have us put down huge deposits way in advance. And so often, your trip doesn't fill up like you planned and you get nailed with cancellation costs for the empty seats. Then, so many more times than I want to count, I've paid $895 for a trip for 16 people, and a week before the trip goes, the airline has a bunch of empty seats, the hotel is half empty, and they advertise the same trip I paid $895 for, and they drop it to $675 to try to recoup some of the lost revenue that an empty plane would be.

It really is just not worth it. We certify more divers than any other shop in the area. We sell more gear to more people than anyone else within 1000's of miles... and we do about 1 trip a year. It's just too much hassle, and I feel I'm doing my customers an injustice because you are right, you can book it yourself and save 2 or 3 hundred bucks by finding a special. And trust me, it ain't worth diving with Joe for 200 bucks!!:smiley29:

chinacat46
09-18-2007, 17:50
I got meet poor Joe. He really gets picked on!

Vercingetorix
09-18-2007, 18:08
I'll tell you the main problem from the shop perspective. The travel agency screws us... pretty much as dive shop owners.
First, I'm sorry for the less than stellar service you have received from the travel agency industry. Your experiences would sour anybody.

As the manager of a travel agency, I can tell you, it is NOT the travel agency that causes the problems you cite below. Rather, it is the vendors.


If we want to block out a group of 16 or so, they have us put down huge deposits way in advance.It is NOT the agency, but the travel product vendors that require the deposits early. For instance, the cruise lines want deposits within two weeks. Sometimes the amount is small, if the trip is six months out. Another reason we (the agency) look for these larger deposits is to quickly qualify the prospects. That is, a client may put down $25 now, but back-out six months from now when the final payment is due. If I ask for $100 now, the non-committed traveler is more likely not to book.

And so often, your trip doesn't fill up like you planned and you get nailed with cancellation costs for the empty seats.The vendor, again. If you cancel before the final payment date, you get all your deposit money back.


Then, so many more times than I want to count, I've paid $895 for a trip for 16 people, and a week before the trip goes, the airline has a bunch of empty seats, the hotel is half empty, and they advertise the same trip I paid $895 for, and they drop it to $675 to try to recoup some of the lost revenue that an empty plane would be.Often, the tavel agent can re-negotiate the price or have additional amenties thrown in. I've done so for my clients. Given that I work for the largest travel agency in the world, we have some clout (like ScubaToys has in the scuba industry.

And trust me, it ain't worth diving with Joe for 200 bucks!!:smilie39::smilie39::smilie39:

I recently spoke to Joe about how much ScubaToys was making from the cruise in Feb 2008. He answered zilch. I discussed with him how ST can make money from these cruises, earn money for a favorite charity, and still offer a price less than the traveller can find on-line or by calling the cruise line directly. As I said, clout.

Larry, please don't give-up on travel agencies yet. As a diver myself, I'm looking out for what divers want and/or need.

SYOTABUCS
09-18-2007, 20:04
OK, understanding is a little better.

Maybe I should just book on my own to meet up with the folks from the LDS at their destination. And then buy a round of drinks with the money I saved. :)

So rick, why not try to put together a trip on this forum?
Sorta like a group buy.

DevilDiver
09-18-2007, 20:27
I'll tell you the main problem from the shop perspective. The travel agency screws us... pretty much as dive shop owners.

If we want to block out a group of 16 or so, they have us put down huge deposits way in advance. And so often, your trip doesn't fill up like you planned and you get nailed with cancellation costs for the empty seats. Then, so many more times than I want to count, I've paid $895 for a trip for 16 people, and a week before the trip goes, the airline has a bunch of empty seats, the hotel is half empty, and they advertise the same trip I paid $895 for, and they drop it to $675 to try to recoup some of the lost revenue that an empty plane would be.

It really is just not worth it. We certify more divers than any other shop in the area. We sell more gear to more people than anyone else within 1000's of miles... and we do about 1 trip a year. It's just too much hassle, and I feel I'm doing my customers an injustice because you are right, you can book it yourself and save 2 or 3 hundred bucks by finding a special. And trust me, it ain't worth diving with Joe for 200 bucks!!:smiley29:

What:smiley29: You mean Joe can dive...Are you sure? I heard that was a rumor so he could fit in at the shop. :smilie39: Let's see if he get's in the water at CSSP this Sunday!:smiley32:

jo8243
09-18-2007, 20:53
I don't think it should always be cheaper b/c you get to go with a group of people you know.

BobArnold8265
09-18-2007, 21:06
Sometimes it's worth traveling with your LDS even if it does cost a little more (key word is little). I don't know about the rest of you but there are times I feel uncomfortable traveling to new places. Let's face some of the best dive spots are remote and may not always be terribly safe. Not to mention that some dive operations may be a little dodgy as well. Going with a large group gives me a little extra security. One thing is for sure, the boat won't leave you when there are a bunch of friends on it.

I guess for me I like to explore new places with the safety of a group. Once I've been there and feel comfortable, then I often return on my own.

crpntr133
09-18-2007, 23:16
I wouldn't mind paying little more for the LDS to book the trip. Think about it, you pay and relax. No problems to deal with just shut up and dive. Now if I can take 3 trips instead of 2..sorry man I'm going for three.

nitrox_scuba_diver
09-25-2007, 06:50
We really like our LDS and have met a lot of nice folks. We bought our BC's, Reg's and computer from them as well. (And they did figure out a way to improve on the normal retail price) (We were able to use a mysterious "CREDIT" we had on our account And also got a 10% discount by joining the dive team) We used the 10% discount on all training and purchases.

They have a social 3-4 times a year where you can meet other local divers and talk about diving stuff. Us being newbies we wanted to get some info on places to go.

BUT. the prices they list for their trips seem very high compared to what I could book the same trip. I know they are probably getting a person or 2 for free but as much as we would like to go with them we can take 3 similar trips a year for what they want for 2. Is this the norm? We were in the other day and were ask why we had not signed up for any of the trips and I ask her if she wanted me to be honest? So I told her as nice as I could that their prices were to high. So is it normal to pay an extra 400-500 pp for LDS planned trips vs. what you can book the same trip.

Not bashing them just wondering. They have treated us great otherwise.

Well I guess they have to make money somewhere but I do have a problem when I want a single supplement and end up paying for the room all over again. I always find out where they are staying and how many dives are in the deal. Is it a good value? Your LDS may hire a better boat than you could walk onto alone. They also can tell the Captian what sites they would like to go to. You also (depending on the trip) would be diving with people you know. You could ask for just a diving price and book your own room or camp but that depends on the LDS.

You are right about some people traveling for free but... If someone has to plan the trip, shell out some money, run around making sure that everyones rooms are OK, and the boat is OK. They should get a free ride or a reduced rate. Part of the perks of the job.:smiley36:

quasimoto
09-25-2007, 15:06
Sometimes you can't have it all. I have done many dive trip with the LDS and paid a bit more than what I could have paid on my own. But I didn't have to deal with anything and there is always something.

The price difference that I am talking about is maybe 10% so that is really no big deal. Now if I could save enough to do another trip then I would look into doing the booking on my own. But sometimes a LDS will get a group rate for diving and or hotel so booking on your own may not work at all.

caroln
09-25-2007, 15:28
My LDS trips are always much higher then what I could go for on my own, so I have not joined them for a trip yet. I'd rather have an extra trip a year even if I have to do the planning and research myself rather then having it done for me.

namabiru
09-25-2007, 21:19
Well I guess they have to make money somewhere but I do have a problem when I want a single supplement and end up paying for the room all over again.

Oh man, that just drives me crazy as well. It happens everywhere. That's why I like to stay in guesthouses. You book a bunk, the bathroom's down the hall, and you're not paying expensive supplements.

What does it matter if there is one person or two in the room? With only one person, that's one less set of towels to wash anyway...

skiallday
09-26-2007, 07:54
My wife and my 2 sons and I just spent a week in Little Cayman. It was the same week a group from an LDS was at the same resort. I paid about 600 less per person doing it on my own. Was a no brainer for me.

Bwana
09-30-2007, 22:13
$500.00 might be alittle high, depending on where you are going. But remember you are also paying for the experiance the store has of the location. Also for the convience of only having to go one place to book everything. Last but not least if there are any problems the dive store has more pull dealing with any problems. Don't confuse last minute travel with preplaned (booked ahead) Last minute fire sales are always cheaper if your schedule will fit and if there are enough seats.

zane2392
10-02-2007, 13:34
I have to agree that the extra couple of hundo would be worth the peace of mind you get from not booking yourself.

Being new to diving and living in Ohio, I hope to start going on a couple of trips each year. I would also be interested in trips being formed in this forum.

I have to defend Joe, he is taking care of us down in Curacao,

Thanks

Iceman
10-02-2007, 13:50
Depends on your relationship to the LDS and how many of you and your friends are going. If it is a good relationship and you know most of the people going then it is worthwhile to have enough people in your group to dictate the schedule; and most boat operators I've met will adjust to meet the group's desires.

But, if you are going to be a single anyway why not do the best financially and meet some new people?

RobT
10-03-2007, 15:26
Why not just get together with your friends and form your own group? That is what we do most of the time when we take trips. It may be just a few of us, or it may be several. Usually you end up meeting other people while on your trip that you may end up going with later on. This way you are not taking a trip alone, not paying ridiculous prices so that the dive shop owner can go for free, and you aren't forced to dive with the same people and not meet new people.

Later, Rob.

Damselfish
10-03-2007, 17:53
Well I guess they have to make money somewhere but I do have a problem when I want a single supplement and end up paying for the room all over again.

Oh man, that just drives me crazy as well. It happens everywhere. That's why I like to stay in guesthouses. You book a bunk, the bathroom's down the hall, and you're not paying expensive supplements.

What does it matter if there is one person or two in the room? With only one person, that's one less set of towels to wash anyway...
I don't get why people always complain about this. The hotel is charging for a room. (They should just quote it per room instead of per person double occupancy then maybe people wouldn't get bent out of shape.) It's pretty much no different to them if there's one or two people in there.

cutter77
10-03-2007, 20:12
We've always found it cheaper to do the research/booking ourselves. Sometimes we find the resort/LA deal and then scout out airfare, and sometimes we find the low airfare to a place we'd like to go and then scout out the accomodations and dive op.

Bill22
11-10-2007, 23:14
Well I guess they have to make money somewhere but I do have a problem when I want a single supplement and end up paying for the room all over again.

Oh man, that just drives me crazy as well. It happens everywhere. That's why I like to stay in guesthouses. You book a bunk, the bathroom's down the hall, and you're not paying expensive supplements.

What does it matter if there is one person or two in the room? With only one person, that's one less set of towels to wash anyway...
I don't get why people always complain about this. The hotel is charging for a room. (They should just quote it per room instead of per person double occupancy then maybe people wouldn't get bent out of shape.) It's pretty much no different to them if there's one or two people in there.

The problem is when you get charged more (single supplement) because you're staying in the room by yourself. Then you feel like you're being punished for traveling alone or wanting a little privacy. I think it's as you said, all about the way they word it.

Most of the places I've stayed in the Philippines the price was for the room. Didn't matter if it was one person or two. I never had to pay extra (single supplement) because I was by myself.

Zenagirl
11-11-2007, 07:28
I wouldn't necessarily have difficulty paying up to about $200 more for an LDS organized trip, but the ones in my area seem to be at least $500 more than I can do it on my own.

Ohmdiver
11-11-2007, 09:39
I have two shops in my area that arrange trips. One takes the fre pas for themselves:smiley21: This is my local shop that I deal with the most.

The other shop which can come across as a bit stuffy and stand-off-ish raffles off the free trip to the group if the trip fills. :smiley20:

I know several divers that travel with the first and they do not travel with them much and would rather do their own travel.

I do not know of anyone that travels with the second, because I do not have alot of interaction with them. But it seems more upfront and honest.

I do not travel much as I have 2 small children and I can not justify paying $$$$ to take them somewhere they will not appreicate yet.

Someone stated that it is a perk that goes with the job. (MY OPINION) I understand this "policy" but I think it is a large steaming pile of road apples. If you are doing dive travel as part your business you are getting paid for your services. (albeit, not much) If you are doing it as part of a group, why wouldn't you fill the trip and divide the free trip among the group?

philmayer
11-11-2007, 11:35
The cost of the trips from my LDS is roughly what it would cost me to book it myself. I know they're paying $150 per person to the travel agency to handle the arrangements and they get a free person for every 10-15 people.

To me the additional cost is worth it to travel with people I know. I travel by myself all the time. Sometimes it's nice to travel with people I know.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
11-13-2007, 12:11
I'll play devil's advocate and unrepentant capitalist here. The LDS should charge the price that maximizes its lon-run profits, subject to demand.

Finding that price is difficult since demand for trips varies with other variables than price, high margins attract competition, etc. My belief is that the price that maximizes the long-run profits of the shop is one that provides fair compensation for the services and risks that the shop undertakes in organizing the trip. If shop prices are excessive, divers will seek alternatives. Gouging will create resentment and anger . If the prices are too low, the shop might not make enough profits to stay in business.

If you can come up with a reliable method to optimize pricing and can market that to retailers, you will become richer than your wildest dreams.

mike_s
11-13-2007, 12:25
I think that most LDS trips cost more.

Like Larry said, they often have to pay more for slots they don't sell. They also typically have to send someone from the store on the trip to act as a trip leader, which in reality means that everone else on the trip is paying a pro-rated portion of that trip leader going.

However, I'm not for having a LDS trip cost $100 to $500 more than what I can book it myself for most of the time. Especially for weekend trips.


One more thing to remember when calculating the differences. When you ask a price of a hotel or dive boat, see what's included.
* Often your LDS trip includes the price of rental tanks and/or airfills
* Your LDS trip cost includes the cost of sales tax and hotel lodging tax, which can easily be 10-15% for the lodging tax portion.
* a couple meals (lunch on the boat,etc) might be included on the LDS trip.
* my LDS will carry our gear and tanks to Florida for us on the bigger trips that we fly down on. It's nice to have our gear at the boat when we arrive after flying down. Not having to check luggage on a plane is nice.... very nice...

So make sure you calculate in all costs when making this comparison...

Of course some peole will gripe if the LDS trip is $25 bucks or $50 bucks more then what they can do it yourself for. But not having to deal with the charter boat operator managment is typically worth that alone in my opinion. :rofl3:

My suggestion is do a real apples-to-apples comparison and include all the costs and taxes. If it's 10% more for the LDS to book it on a weekend trip, then it's prob well worth paying that small bit extra.

CaribbeanDiver
11-13-2007, 15:36
trips through the LDS' in my area cost considerably more than if I booked the trip myself.
Whether this is justified or not does not matter to me. What does matter is if I can take a 7 day dive trip for hundreds less if I book it then it seems the best choice.
For example, if I paid $200-500 more per trip by booking through the dive shop as opposed to me booking my own trips; and if I take 3 or 4 trips in a year, that cummulative $600-2000 can pay for another trip.
I have to gain computer knowledge to move up to computer illiterate. If I can book trips on my own, trust me, anyone can.

scubarealtor
11-14-2007, 09:55
i think the guy that is going for "free" is serving as divemaster and grunt in return for the free trip. its a fair deal on both sides.

however, i don't go on trips with the LDS. me and some friends plan a trip on a forum and meet people from scubatoys, scubaboard or msscuba at the dive site. we get the security of diving with people we know and we get to meet some of the people that we chat will all the time, along with local knowledge of the dive site.

Bill22
11-14-2007, 10:50
i think the guy that is going for "free" is serving as divemaster and grunt in return for the free trip. its a fair deal on both sides.

however, i don't go on trips with the LDS. me and some friends plan a trip on a forum and meet people from scubatoys, scubaboard or msscuba at the dive site. we get the security of diving with people we know and we get to meet some of the people that we chat will all the time, along with local knowledge of the dive site.

I normally take vacations by myself, but I'm looking at doing exactly what you are suggesting on my next dive trip to the Philippines with a group from scubaboard. I was invited by someone I met here on the ST forum. They seem like a really nice group of people. They were really helpful when I was planning my last trip.

Damselfish
11-14-2007, 14:44
We've done a couple trips with a local shop. From what I see they're not charging extra over what my costs would be. Of course they get whatever free spots for booking a boat or group of rooms, which is fine, and maybe a commission here or there that any travel agent would get, which is fine too. It's actually a good deal to me as besides doing all the planning they provide some extra little services which are nice, and hustle on the trip to take care of whatever comes up. I actually wouldn't mind paying some reasonable additional amount for the convienience of what I get, how much depends on the trip of course but certainly not $500.

maggs_the
04-11-2008, 15:48
I'll tell you the main problem from the shop perspective. The travel agency screws us... pretty much as dive shop owners.

If we want to block out a group of 16 or so, they have us put down huge deposits way in advance. And so often, your trip doesn't fill up like you planned and you get nailed with cancellation costs for the empty seats. Then, so many more times than I want to count, I've paid $895 for a trip for 16 people, and a week before the trip goes, the airline has a bunch of empty seats, the hotel is half empty, and they advertise the same trip I paid $895 for, and they drop it to $675 to try to recoup some of the lost revenue that an empty plane would be.

It really is just not worth it. We certify more divers than any other shop in the area. We sell more gear to more people than anyone else within 1000's of miles... and we do about 1 trip a year. It's just too much hassle, and I feel I'm doing my customers an injustice because you are right, you can book it yourself and save 2 or 3 hundred bucks by finding a special. And trust me, it ain't worth diving with Joe for 200 bucks!!:smiley29:

you know, i am SO glad to see your post. My LDS is going to Fantasy Island on Roatan because they loved it so much last year when I suggested it to them. this year, they're going in Sept and the cost of the package is $1850. i did not do any extensive searching, just a quick look and found the identical package for $1420. airfare, all-inclusive, one week plus diving.... and i have resented them trying to convince me (who obviously went without them once!!) to go with them for $1850.

sounds like it's time for a new travel perspective.

plan a date.
give approximate cost without holding anything thru the travel agent.
give a deadline to book.
get the best deal and be fair and honest with your customers. sure, if you've scoped the place out and you've done all the homework, there should be compensation there.
and if you can get a better deal by speaking with the actual resort versus going thru a Bay Adventures or Caradonna, then i see no reason why you have to disclose that.

but DONT charge me $400 more than i can easily find it for within 5 minutes online and tell me what a deal i'm getting.

i was getting my dropping my tanks off as they were trying to talk someone else into the trip and they told this customer to ask me... i'd been there before.. i could tell them what a great place. i didnt say a word because i would have had to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth so help me god.

i'll go back to Fantasy Island but i'll book it myself.. again :)

scubasamurai
04-11-2008, 17:32
the lds i use covers all the extras ( port.gas and other surcharges) plus extras like pre and post parties, tee shirts discounts of training etc the list goes on. i agree always check your prices but i also figure the lds should be a lower price, why screw you? they will just be loosing a customer in my eyes. plus the lds guy who is in "charge" gets the free room, but all trips if you book more than 9 or 10 people one goes free. if you like that than organize your own dive trip and be the guy that gets the free trip. but your also responsible for any problems with booking, people not paying, and any other problem that comes with being the organizer.

cummings66
04-11-2008, 18:28
I'll tell you this much, just from planning local dive trips. You have a high percentage of tire kickers, a small percentage of them actually go.

I don't like to charge for local trips and so it's free, basically I kind of put up a notice and setup carpools and meeting locations. I'll point out the motels and state parks where they can stay. I basically make it so that all they need to do is say I'm going, who can I share a ride with? Then they book their own room. If we're using a boat it gets a bit more complex because of rental fee's. Most of the time in that case I will point out the shop we're using and have them deal with them directly.

It's easier doing that than it is saying give me $100 per person and we'll setup a 2 tank dive at this lake. Transportation is on you.

I've found some people stay in the best motels, others only care to have a roof over their head, and a very few will camp out in the open with nothing there.

Largo
04-11-2008, 19:39
My LDS offers trips for about the same price as I would get on my own.

However, I find that if I go on my own, I get hit with mysterious "taxes" or "fees" that I don't encounter when I just pay through the dive shop.

The owners of my LDS travel all of the time, and they know how to negotiate the best price.

bigman241
08-13-2009, 11:24
Hey if you told me i could dive with you and joe for a extra 200 bucks i would give it up. I do not have a proplem paying more for something worth more. Diving with you guys would be priceless to me the experince i would gain the fun time and hey seems to me you guys are the best. \
I'll tell you the main problem from the shop perspective. The travel agency screws us... pretty much as dive shop owners.

If we want to block out a group of 16 or so, they have us put down huge deposits way in advance. And so often, your trip doesn't fill up like you planned and you get nailed with cancellation costs for the empty seats. Then, so many more times than I want to count, I've paid $895 for a trip for 16 people, and a week before the trip goes, the airline has a bunch of empty seats, the hotel is half empty, and they advertise the same trip I paid $895 for, and they drop it to $675 to try to recoup some of the lost revenue that an empty plane would be.

It really is just not worth it. We certify more divers than any other shop in the area. We sell more gear to more people than anyone else within 1000's of miles... and we do about 1 trip a year. It's just too much hassle, and I feel I'm doing my customers an injustice because you are right, you can book it yourself and save 2 or 3 hundred bucks by finding a special. And trust me, it ain't worth diving with Joe for 200 bucks!!:smiley29:

chinacat46
08-13-2009, 12:45
Another reason you might not want to go with your LDS is the size of the group. I do lots of liveaboards and I'd rather be on an unfilled boat then a full one. When an LDS charters a liveaboard they try very very hard to sell every spot to maximize their profit. I prefer to book myself and try and find boats that aren't sold out. You have a better chance of getting your own room and there aren't as many people diving either. This happens on land based trips as well but to a lesser degree since it's rare for a LDS to book a whole resort although they sometimes bring very large groups. When I'm diving less divers to me is a plus.

Jack Hammer
08-13-2009, 13:20
I did a trip last year through my LDS and it was very nice. They don't include airfare in the prices they give, you are on your own for that, which in my case was good, I got it for a few hundred dollars less than most the group paid. Basically how they work it is you pay the same as if you booked it yourself, but they deal with all the arrangements and any problems that come up, including dealing with lost luggage, etc, and they include a cert (usually PADI OW, AOW). They have a DM from the shop go along (free or discounted for them for bringing the group) and that person is there to deal with any problems you have, finish any certs you started or teach another cert. They make little if anything off the trip but they earn customer loyalty by offering a good deal and a lot of people buy more gear/get theirs serviced from them for the trip. You just have to look at what's invlolved and ask a lot of questions to see if it's a good deal or not.

DiverDurf
08-13-2009, 14:19
I don't take trips with my LDS because they do in fact charge too much. Yep, I'd get the comraderie through their trips, but I've gone by myself a few times and just met up with the group once there. The LDS is great for equipment service, "some" purchases, and air fills. They may also occasionally offer a trip abroad out of the U.S., but for monthly trips......nope, can always do better myself by a large margin.

mrm777
08-13-2009, 16:02
We've always saved bucks by doing all the arrangements ourselves....even for distant places. But, it might be good to have a pro or shop take care of it if you haven't traveled a lot, especially the first time or so.

Zenagirl
08-14-2009, 08:23
We're actually doing our trip to Fiji next year with our LDS. Their prices are exactly the same as what it would cost on-line, and since the leaders have been there before, we won't have to worry about navigating the trip. :) Should be a lot of fun.

scubarobin
08-14-2009, 08:53
We're actually doing our trip to Fiji next year with our LDS. Their prices are exactly the same as what it would cost on-line, and since the leaders have been there before, we won't have to worry about navigating the trip. :) Should be a lot of fun.

We would love to go on some of our LDS trips, but we really couldn't stand to be around the trip leader (its always the same guy) for a whole week. He is very arrogant and talks about himself every waking hour of the day! They have had problems filling all their trips in the past several years, mostly because of this guy I think. The only people who go now are his close buddies, about 6-8 people who go on every trip regardless. One guy is a complete a**hole and I couldn't stand to be around him either.

The owner of the dive shop approached me and hubby recently to ask us why we book our own trips and don't go with them, and we told him! He was shocked to hear our opinion (he thinks we are the coolest divers and always wants to know everything about where we go) but I doubt he will change his "group leader".

Our old LDS back in CO had rotating group leaders for each trip, picking an istructor who has been there before. Much better trips in my opinion and not the same group on every trip.

robin

Quero
08-14-2009, 10:57
<snip>
As the manager of a travel agency, I can tell you, it is NOT the travel agency that causes the problems you cite below. Rather, it is the vendors.
<snip>
It is NOT the agency, but the travel product vendors that require the deposits early. <snip>
please don't give-up on travel agencies yet. As a diver myself, I'm looking out for what divers want and/or need.

From the perspective of a booking/tour agency at the destination end--

I agree to a large extent with Vercingetorix, with some small reservations. I only ask my divers/clients, whether they be FIT [foreign independent travelers] or a group such as a dive club or LDS, for whatever percentage I am invoiced for by the vendor. I follow the vendor's booking and cancellation policies, since I have to abide by them. However, I don't think the vendor is the big bad wolf in the story. When an individual or group says they want X spaces and we (the agency) make a provisional booking with the vendor, we essentially block the sale of these spaces. The vendor asks for a deposit to cover a potential loss of business in the case of a default in the payment of the balance. Sometimes the vendor will be able to resell the spot and sometimes not. On average it sort of works out.

When groups of divers from a dive club or LDS approach me, we talk about what is going to work best financially for them. What most divers want from me is a liveaboard experience (along with some land-based days at a hotel and some non-diving tours). So we try to figure out whether the trip is likely to garner enough interest to charter a whole boat, or if, say, a smaller group will be better off joining a regularly-scheduled trip. In the case of the full charter, yes, the LDS/club has to pay the whole shebang, whether or not they sell all the berths. In the case of a join-in, we have more flexibility in dropping some of the space, and closing off the booking before the penalties kick in. In that case, the club/LDS pays only for what it uses. It all depends on the group and the degree of uncertainty regarding the number of divers who will join the trip.

As for comp trips and commissions, I'm personally happy to rebate a portion of what I receive back to the LDS/Club so that the organizer doesn't have to pay full price (seems only fair to me as compensation for doing the work). In the case of a join-in trip, divers from a club/LDS shouldn't be paying any more than they would if they booked directly, unless the LDS bumps the per person price up a bit as admin fees. For a full charter, well, if the boat's not filled, somebody is going to have to cover the shortfall, and usually that will be a function of the LDS price padding. I've known LDS and club groups to announce a high price initially and then lower it later if they make the numbers. Seems fair to me.

Note that while what I do doesn't include any airfares, I do try to match internet rates offered by hotels on their websites (though it's impossible for me to match consolidator's rates).

Planning and coordinating dive trips in this part of the world can be a complex, frustrating, and incredibly time-consuming undertaking. I can't tell you how many people have written to me to ask for help, apologizing (!) for doing so by telling me that they always plan their own trips, but for a trip they'd like to arrange to SE Asia they are simply overwhelmed with the options and unfamiliar with the way things work here. Right now, for example, I'm working with a group of six young people from a US university who are coming in December. Even they, who are highly computer literate, couldn't sort everything out on their own.

When a club or an LDS publishes a price and you look up the lowest prices for that hotel, liveaboard, or tour online, you are spending very little time researching a specified product. What you don't realize is that the agent or the LDS has spent untold hours determining which hotel, which liveaboard, and which tours are the best fit for the group.

What your LDS and your travel/tour agents do to earn their commissions is to save you all the legwork and planning headaches. It comes down to what your time is worth to you. Yeah, if you spend your precious and limited evening and weekend hours doing internet research, crawling the web for recommendations, finding the lowest-priced deal on whichever hotel you've selected, and waiting for a last-minute sale on a liveaboard, you probably CAN save a couple or few hundred bucks on your trip.

DiverDurf
08-14-2009, 16:36
When a club or an LDS publishes a price and you look up the lowest prices for that hotel, liveaboard, or tour online, you are spending very little time researching a specified product. What you don't realize is that the agent or the LDS has spent untold hours determining which hotel, which liveaboard, and which tours are the best fit for the group.

Agree, to a point. In my case, our LDS does the SAME trips every year because they are tried and true- for them. It is my opinion that the LDS has found what's easy and works for them, meaning there is no more leg work to do. I have heard numerous complaints from divers about some of the accomodations the LDS chooses simply because of "TTWWADI" (That's The Way We've Always Done It). Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing them so to speak, but for "my" LDS there is no "leg work" for them in choosing their trips because they use the same ones over, and over, and...... It's no biggy though, and in the end everyone is still getting wet and happily diving. I just choose to spend that little bit of my time in putting my own trip together. Besides, isn't that half the fun? :smiley2:

Zenagirl
08-15-2009, 08:23
We would love to go on some of our LDS trips, but we really couldn't stand to be around the trip leader (its always the same guy) for a whole week. He is very arrogant and talks about himself every waking hour of the day! They have had problems filling all their trips in the past several years, mostly because of this guy I think. The only people who go now are his close buddies, about 6-8 people who go on every trip regardless. One guy is a complete a**hole and I couldn't stand to be around him either.

We have one like that, but he's an LDS owner....and I wouldn't cross the street with him, let alone get on a plane and be stuck for a week diving with him. We've gotten to the point where we won't even go into his shop anymore. He's so bad that when we did our nitrox course with him (before we knew better), he had to add an extra evening, making it a 6 hour class because he had spent so much time talking about himself!! Talk about torture.

mcr0112
08-17-2009, 09:53
My LDS has meeting once a month & this months had a "Travel DEAL" rep come and talk. Ther were no savings from this deal, in fact on one special vacation I'm going on I'm getting a week of diving in the red sea & 11 day land trip for the same amount as thier land trip. I normally do the leg work myself & go more often.

TJDiver
08-27-2009, 10:44
I've never booked a trip thru an LDS...not because of the pricing issue...probably more of an issue of being "stuck" with a particular group. That being said, the LDS I now do business with, doesn't add anything on to the cost of the trip. I'm thinking about booking a trip thru them to CoCo View in Honduras next year. At first, I thought they were charging a premium over the resort's advertised rates...but then, I realized the shop's pricing included all the taxes/fees. The shop owner readily admits he gets a free pass with ten or more in the group...but, doesn't he deserve it for doing all the work? If I felt that was unfair, then I should start my own group, do all the leg work, and it would then be my perrogative to "split" the free pass with everyone else...but, truth be told, I'd probably keep the free pass for my efforts too. Our LDS is a great group of guys and gals, and I'm actually looking forward to diving with them.

jimorus
09-01-2009, 15:18
We need to remember the LDS has to make a living. It just sometimes seems they want to make it all on one guy.

My wife has booked 12 or 15 trips for the two of us or us and another couple. We have never had a problem.

She tried to book one for a group of 8 and it never went. Everyone wanted to do their own thing for the flights, then the boat wasn't right, then the hotel was too low end and no one wanted to ride a bus from the airport blah blah blah.

She finally gave up.

The dive shop puts up with that crap on every trip and after what my wife went through I don't think they charge enough. Add on the whiners after you get there and it is a wonder they find people to lead the trips.

Bless the folks that continue to do this service for the people too new to want to try it and or too afraid to do it themselves.

I look at it self booking as an adventure. We meet new people. We expand our list of friends throughout the world and have met people from places we had never even heard of.

On the other hand going with a local group has been fun too.

We have booked a dud trip ourselves to Barbados and have been on two dud trips with the dive shop, it happens. It is vacation and it is all good

jim

ReefHound
09-01-2009, 18:22
She tried to book one for a group of 8 and it never went. Everyone wanted to do their own thing for the flights, then the boat wasn't right, then the hotel was too low end and no one wanted to ride a bus from the airport blah blah blah.

She finally gave up.

The dive shop puts up with that crap on every trip and after what my wife went through I don't think they charge enough. Add on the whiners after you get there and it is a wonder they find people to lead the trips.

Actually they don't. Your wife was starting with a selected group then trying to design a trip that pleased everyone. The shop designs the trip then finds a group which finds it acceptable. Subtle but big difference.

divingmedic
09-01-2009, 19:47
The only problem I have with taking a trip through my shop is they rarely book a family friendly trip. I have a non diving wife, and now a jr diver. The trips I did take with them was always a mixed group of diver, newbies through those that lost count of their dives. I am a AOW diver and like to go to advanced sites. Last trip that I booked myself they took me advanced sites.