Someone gave me Lynda's phone number back in late 1991 or early 1992 when I was planning a class on Chinese Civil Service Reform and wanted to take the students to Hong Kong and Beijing as part of the class. Even then, air fare and ten days of hotels plus a day tour in both cities for about $800 was a bargain. I'd really expected to work out local housing with people I knew, but when she came back with those prices I surrendered.
She's been my travel agent ever since, and I've posted about her before - Why Travel Agents are Worth the Fee and The Academy Award for Best Travel Agent Goes To.
She's great because:
1. She tells me things like, "Steve, just do it online yourself, you don't want to pay my fee."
2. She's always ready and willing to check things out even if she knows she's probably not make any money off it.
3. She's made my life much easier when flights got canceled or changed for a variety of reasons.
4. She's funny. And she laughs, and it sounds genuine, at my bad jokes.
5. She's smart and knows how to make things work.
6. I know she'll do whatever it takes to make sure my trip goes well.
She also knows that sometimes I'll find a fare I like and then send it to her to make the reservation. I'm willing to pay the fee knowing if anything, and I mean anything, goes wrong, she'll be working hard to help straighten it out. I'm more likely to do that on more complicated trips. She's called an airline for me and made a huge fuss which led to someone in the airline president's office calling me to offer apologies and reparations. He also said, you've got helluva travel agent working for you.
We did business together for years by phone and email and she'd send tickets by courier. One day I was someplace, I can't remember where, and I heard this woman talk. I looked at her and said, "Lynda?" and she looked at me and said, "Steve?" Her voice is pretty distinctive, I didn't realize mine was too.
In this day and age of online reservations, who needs a travel agent? Sometimes you just get exhausted. Sometimes the options you want aren't available online. Sometimes you need someone who knows people at an airline, in a system, in a part of the world. And if things go wrong, it's nice to have a travel agent call for you. They have direct phone numbers that reach real people. (Except the Prinz Hotel.)
We had lunch today with Lynda and she let me take the picture above to post here. The company she first worked for when we met got bought out half a dozen times since then (picture a big fish swallowing the next fish swallowing the next fish and on and on) and I can't ever remember the latest name. She used to specialize in business travelers and still has old customers who feel the same way I do about her. She does a lot of cruises these days and some package tours, but says Alaskans tend to be more independent travelers. She does a lot of vacation travel - putting a whole package together. She's good at Mexico, Caribbean, Italy, Asia (she loves Bali), and Hawaii.
So, if you need someone who's been a gem for me, you can call her at
One, eight hundred, Three Three Three 6 Three 8 Three.
Or email her at lmcmahon AT cwtvacations.com
And remember, be as nice to her as you want her to be to you.
And remember all the professionals in your life who are good at what they do, totally trustworthy, and believe in giving their clients the best possible service. Let them know how you feel.
[Regular readers know I don't take money or other favors to say good things about businesses or products, and that I've posted about companies that solicit bloggers to push businesses. Know your blogger before you take their recommendations.]