I have the best yet most misunderstood job in the world. It's true, most people have no idea how independent Travel Advisors work and how they can help. Most desperate vacation-seekers take the “easy” task of heading online to make their reservations. The lure of internet convenience and control quickly turns into confusion, indecisiveness and anxiety not to mention a huge time suck. How do I know? Because almost every day I get emails begging for help from these exact vacationers. Think of a Travel Advisor as your personal guide that will lead you to the perfect vacation.
Hopefully, I can help clear up some of this confusion by explaining things about what we do and don’t do:
Travel Advisors do not cost more - Travel Advisors basically earn most of their living by the commissions we earn from our sales of hotel stays, cruises, sightseeing and rental cars. (The airlines haven't paid commissions to travel Advisors since the mid 1990's. So, if you want to use mileage points to book your own flights, no problem!) Hotels, vacation package companies and cruise lines all include Travel Advisor commissions in their published prices. If you do all the work yourself online, these companies "pocket" the commission. Plus, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) all charge service fees. They build their fees into the cost that you pay. Most independent Travel Advisors do charge a nominal service fee for our time which is usually offset by your time and money savings, especially in situations dealing with very complex itineraries or group events. You won't be spending hours on the internet, hanging on phone hold for eternity or wasting any precious time wondering and worrying. Make sure you ask in your initial consultation.
Travel Advisors want to give you value - Any great Travel Advisor knows it's not just making the sale; it's about creating satisfied clients. Satisfied clients become fans of our company, come back to us every year and recommend our company to others. Skilled Travel Advisors rejoice when we can save you money with a great deal, but we don't base our recommendations on industry sales incentives or bonus gifts. We make our recommendations based on your specific needs and requests. If we know of a better room or experience that will enhance your vacation, we'll suggest it. We want our clients to make the best-informed decisions to get the most value for their vacation dollars.
Travel Advisors can save the day - Some people will make their own reservations directly with a cruise line or tour company then realize the trip is more complicated than they expected. Most of the time, we can help by transferring your booking to our agency. It's a win-win. You get to keep what you booked and enjoy the benefit of our suggestions to enhance your enjoyment.
Travel Advisors see prices that you don't - Travel Advisors are privy to special flight prices, special hotel and cruise cabin rates that consumers will never find online themselves. This feature alone could save you money. Beyond pricing, great Travel Advisors have cultivated buying power to get extra amenities like ship board credits or insider tours that can also enhance your family's vacation.
Travel Advisors save you time - Time is our most precious commodity and yet so many people are willing to waste it. HOURS can be spent properly researching a vacation. With the amount of conflicting information available online, it's easy to quickly get overwhelmed and confused. Many times, the questions perplexing travelers are one that Advisors can answer right off the top of our heads thanks to our years of experience. If you have detailed questions or need to plan a complicated itinerary, we do the work for you. We can make the international phone calls to get your questions answered. We know who and how to reach out to in order to get the job done, saving you hours of frustration.
Travel Advisors understand the fine print- Most people don't bother reading any of the fine print terms and conditions of their travel documents until it's too late. This is what costs them big bucks in the long term. Even if folks do stop to read it, they don’t fully understand all the implications. Travel Advisors are well versed in these rules, terms and conditions. We can help navigate and protect your family and investment.
Travel Advisors prevent hassles - Most DIY people don't realize that there is a huge difference between great value and the cheapest price. For example, you may pay a really low price for your family's flight but that doesn't mean you'll pay less. So many fares out there have add-on fees (seats, baggage, check-in, priority access), it could end up costing you double what you thought you were saving. Travel Advisors are skilled at helping you find the best value with the least amount of surprises.
Travel Advisors protect you - Most self-planners don't realize that medical insurance usually does not cover your family while on vacation out of area or especially overseas. Many foreign countries will take your passport if you are admitted to a hospital and will expect payment in full for any treatment or surgery prior to discharge and returning your passport. A good Travel Advisor will make sure you have the proper peace of mind with the right travel insurance to keep your family safe and protected.
Travel Advisors have experience and training - Travel Advisors do not get "free" trips. We invest our own money and especially our time to visit the destinations that we recommend. We also make sure to experience new travel options and learn about destinations. The most important reason why we make this professional investment is for the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the right important industry contacts. These important connections truly benefit the vacation experiences our clients ultimately enjoy. We come back knowing exactly who to speak to in order to make special requests for our clients. This could mean things like connecting rooms, welcome gifts or advanced restaurant reservations. These relationships have proved priceless in emergency situations.
Travel Advisors have priceless contacts – First-hand experience and knowledge are what will change a typical vacation into a real memorable experience. Even though good Travel Advisors professionally invest in their own travel to gain this experience, not every Travel Advisor can humanly know every destination in the world. That said, good travel Advisors have a "golden network" and know exactly who to call to get the answers their clients need.
Travel Advisors have specialized expertise - At my agency, I specialize in luxury cruise and land vacations. In a former lifetime, I was an airline employee who traveled the world so I often use those skills to help my clients. I will often share and collaborate with other travel industry professionals to help clients enjoy vacations that exceed their expectations. Within my agency, I have Advisors who are Disney experts while others have experience creating customized group travel. If I don't have an in-house person who can best serve our clients, we collaborate with other professionals who can.
Travel Advisors babysit your reservations - Many folks have commitment issues when it comes to pulling the trigger and confirming their reservations. They always think they will get a cheaper last-minute rate. Often they wait too long, forfeit availability and end up paying much more for their vacation. Most people don't realize that if their trip goes on sale, they can get a lower rate. A good Travel Advisor will mind your reservation and have any lower prices or sales applied to your reservation, even after you've made your initial deposit has been made. This is true for many cruises or Disney vacations. For Caribbean or Mexico resort vacations, my Advisors can direct you to price guarantee coverage that offers you the same option.
Travel Advisors to the rescue - No matter how much you prepare, sometimes unexpected "stuff" happens while you’re on vacation. When you book with a Travel Advisor, they are with you every step of the way. We are your personal advocate. If you run into any issues, your travel Advisor can make calls and usually fix the situation so you don't have to waste valuable vacation time problem solving. We usually know who to call and how to ask for the right solutions many times exceeding your expectations. We make sure any problems are solved to your satisfaction.
Hopefully this takes away many of the mysteries about the value and expertise of Travel Advisors. I’d love to find out if I am the right Travel Advisor to help you create your next vacation.