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conciergeEver wanted someone to make your restaurant reservations for you when you’re traveling? Or grab tix to the latest theatrical extravaganza on your behalf? Or let you know what the weather will be like tomorrow and the next day? All these tasks and more are what hotel concierges have been doing for their high-end clientele for years. Hand over an extra 20 and the concierge would get you into the hottest ticket in town.

But no longer is that 20 bucks a necessity. Travelocity is getting in on the action, offering concierge service to any customer who books a packaged vacation through the site — for free!

Some of the concierge services offered to customers (only those who purchased from Travelocity after January 1) include restaurant referrals and reservations; theater, music or sporting event tickets; golf course tee time reservations; driving directions; salon and spa booking assistance; ATM and bank locations; weather forecasts; lost passport/travel document assistance; translation services; and legal referral and assistance.

The concierge will even keep customers who request it ahead of time up-to-date with sports scores.

In order to take advantage of the concierge, customers need only phone a special number given to them with their e-mailed travel documents. The service is available immediately after booking, during the trip and up to two days after returning home.

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The service, which launched January 1, 2013, is actually operated by Travel Guard, an insurance company that also offers a Concierge Desk. While the use of the concierge to obtain an item or service is free, the cost of the tickets to a Broadway show, as an example, are still the responsibility of the Travelocity customer.

According to Simon Bramly, vice president and general manager of transportation, vacation packages and cruises for Travelocity, the concierge service is intended to enhance the “value” of the site’s vacation packages beyond simply a low price.

But nothing in the corporate world is done without a real bottom-line benefit and one can only guess at the true reason Travelocity has launched this service — a service that must be costing the company money as it doesn’t actually provide it. Online travel booking sites have some of the highest turnover rates in the industry, as most of their customers are simply looking for the lowest price and will hop from site to site to find it. I think it’s a safe bet to say Travelocity is hoping that by adding this service, its vacation package customers will come back to the site not just for the low price but because they’re also getting the free concierge help.

Will the free concierge service influence whether you decide to purchase a vacation from Travelocity or not?

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— written by Dori Saltzman

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