Well-traveled: Bath agents share the ins and outs of booking vacations

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lani LeFevre (left) and Donna Burgin use hundreds of sources to plan the perfect trip for clients. MONA MOORE | DAILY NEWS

Lani LeFevre (left) and Donna Burgin use hundreds of sources to plan the perfect trip for clients.

BATH — Lani LeFevre gets so excited when someone asks her about Ireland.

“Everyone has a special place. Ireland is mine,” she said.

As a travel agent, she is in the business of finding special places for others. She and colleague Donna Burgin do more than book tickets. They plan adventures.

With all of the travel sites and options online, LeFevre and Burgin said there is nothing like using a travel agent.

“It doesn’t cost you a penny more if you use an agent than if you get it online,” Burgin said. “With us, you get more bang for your buck. For me, it’s just the assistance you get planning and organizing. They remember the details.”

LeFevre gave an example of a client who spotted a great deal on a cruise to the Panama Canal.

“I was able to get them that same price plus $140 in onboard credit,” she said.

Both say what sets New Trends in Travel apart from other travel agencies is experience.

“Between the two of us, we’ve been all over the place. She lived in Asia for years, and I’ve lived in Europe,” LeFevre said.

Each have done extensive travel and learned how to plan unforgettable trips. The travel business has taught her that all tours are not created equal. Companies may offer the same trips, but they often specialize in a select few.

LeFevre recommends people book tours instead of fending for themselves while on vacation. She said the best deals are found in tour packages. People do not have to waste time with directions, travel or language barriers. They skip lines at all of the popular sites and are privy to sites the average tourist would never find.

She pointed to the cover of one of her travel catalogs, photos of a castle in Europe.

“I stayed there,” she said.

Another travel book featured a remote hotel in Spain that once was a monastery. LeFevre had vacationed there, as well.

LeFevre once added up the expenses she and her sister incurred on vacation. Between the car rentals, airlines, meals and excursions, they ended up spending more money than they would have had they opted for a planned tour.

Travel agents also know the best times to book and take trips. Burgin said once a year, cruise lines discount their trips, but most people are not privy to that information.

A good agent will work with any budget, LeFevre said. She often gets notifications of discounts that she passes along to clients. She said people tell her about the places they are interested in traveling to, and she keeps an eye out for great deals.

LeFevre and Burgin are planning 2014 vacation packages. They say there is a trip for every interest. They can send church groups on pilgrimages, couples on honeymoons and families on Disney adventures. They have sent people to camp in the desert and tour sites on camels.

LeFevre will be scouting out adventures in Vietnam, and Burgin can tell clients all about the orangutan sanctuary she enjoyed.

Burgin and LeFevre were especially excited about an April 2014 excursion through the south of France. The 10-day trip to Provence will include a cooking class, wine tasting, cheese tasting, perfume making and olive-oil tasting. They will visit the towns VanGogh painted and see the gardens made famous by Monet.

Working out of their homes, Burgin said travel agents have somehow become one of travelers’ best-kept secrets.

“We’re planning trips all the time,” Burgin said. “And nobody knows it.”