When I meet new people and tell them that I work as a travel professional, there are often a lot of questions to come up. From asking “do travel agents still exist?” to hearing stories of vacation disasters that were easily preventable, I’ve heard it all.
What I have realized is that there are a lot of misconceptions about working with a travel professional, and I’d like to set the record straight! Here are just a few of the questions, and misconceptions I hear most often…
Do travel agents still exist? Can’t I do it all myself online?
The internet has brought all kinds of fantastic information right to our fingertips, and for the most part, that can be an awesome thing… but sometimes you still need a professional!
It may sound crazy to say, but I feel like the internet is part of the reason why travel professionals are not only still relevant but can make the difference between a plain vanilla vacation and a swoon-worthy dream vacation.
It’s easy to fall into information overwhelm or to discover too late that the information you relied on when planning your trip is hopelessly outdated and just plain wrong. Travel professionals know better!
We have a saying among travel experts… the internet is for looking, but travel agents are for booking.
Doing some homework online is a great place to start but working with a travel professional to plan all of the details and get your vacation booked is the best of both worlds. It will save you hours and hours spent sorting through info online and will make sure that you are getting the best value for your vacation dollars.
It’s sort of like the difference between using Web MD or going to visit your doctor. The information online is a good start, but you need a professional to truly get the best advice.
When does it make sense to use a travel professional?
All trips are not created equal and yes, there are times where it may make sense to do-it-yourself.
Are you planning to go to your cousin’s wedding in Dallas and all you need is a hotel room near the ceremony and reception (no activities, dining recommendations, other travel arrangements required)? That sounds like the perfect time to turn to the internet!
Planning to spend two weeks touring London and Paris this summer and you’ve never been there before? That calls for a professional! Someone who can direct you to the best places to stay, the “can’t miss” dining locations the locals love, arrange private tours without the long lines and crowds to the must-see attractions, and make sure that your time (and money!) are spent experiencing the “best of the best” while you are there.
Think of it this way… when you are planning a Saturday spent running errands and maybe seeing a movie at the local cinema, you do your hair and makeup yourself. But if you are invited to a black-tie event or special occasion, you’ll plan on having your hairdresser do something special for you and may even book an appointment with a makeup artist to be sure you are looking your best, right? It’s the same with travel plans. When all you need are the basics, going the do-it-yourself route is fine, but for something special… you’ll have a better experience working with a professional!
You may even find that you enjoy the extra attention to detail and service you receive from a trusted travel expert so much that you allow him or her to take care of all of your travel planning, no matter how simple it seems!
Do travel agents have access to things that I don’t? Sold out events… better rates at beautiful hotels… airline tickets I can’t find online?
The answer to this one is yes… and no.
Travel professionals develop relationships within the industry that can often open doors that, at first glance, may appear to be closed. They may be able to find tickets to a sold-out event… but don’t wait till the last minute and expect those tickets at rock bottom prices!
Through our partnerships, we often have “buying power” that an individual consumer can’t match. Sometimes that means better rates at the resort you are interested in, sometimes the price may be the same, but we can get access to upgrades or included amenities that are not available to the general public!
Quite often we can get our clients options like room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, room credits, free transportation or other “extras” all for the same price you would have paid if you booked it yourself.
It’s crucial to understand travel agents don’t own the resorts, entertainment venues, cruise ships or airplanes. They sell available inventory (rooms, tickets, spaces on an excursion, etc.), but they can’t create new inventory if it doesn’t exist. If your heart is set on an overwater bungalow at a resort that only has 20 available, or orchestra seats to see Hamilton on your anniversary, it’s always best to plan well in advance and give your travel professional time to pull all the available strings in your favor!
What happens if something goes wrong? Does having a travel agent mean I can’t get things fixed right away?
Quite the contrary! When things go wrong, having a travel professional means having an advocate in your corner to help get things sorted out as quickly as possible.
We are often aware of potential “hiccups” in a travel itinerary before you are. It’s not uncommon for a travel professional to have already worked out a solution before you know that a problem exists.
When flights get delayed or canceled most travelers will be standing in line frustrated and stressed waiting to get their flights rebooked. Savvy travelers who booked with a travel professional will be relaxing at dinner while their agent works behind the scenes to rebook their flights and rearrange all of their planned activities to accommodate the schedule change. Which sounds more enjoyable?
Since we work with large numbers of travelers, our travel partners often give us access to priority service and make sure our clients are taken care of quickly.
Does it cost more to book my vacation with a travel professional?
The short answer to this question is no. While travel professionals are paid a commission from the suppliers we use to book your vacation, that commission is based on published pricing and fares. In plain English, that means the price for your vacation is the same whether you book it yourself or you use the services of a travel professional.
As with any expert service, your travel professional may charge a nominal professional fee. When you consider the time you will save on planning, the extra level of service and the security of knowing you have someone in your corner should the unexpected occur, and savvy vacationers find this to be money well spent. (Click here for our fee information.)
In fact, because of our connections and relationships, travel agents are often able to find a better value for your vacation dollars than what you see on your own. Whether it is a more beautiful resort for the same pricing or complementary upgrades, you might find your budget goes further when working with a travel expert!
When is the best time to contact a travel professional?
As soon as you are serious about planning your trip. The sooner, the better. Whether it’s last minute or planned 18 months in advance, the more time you can give us, the better!
You’ll need to be sure of a few details such as the dates (or date range) you wish to travel, the number of people in your travel party including the ages of any children going with you, your anticipated budget, and an idea of what you’d like to experience. Your travel professional will be happy to recommend specifics based on the information you provide.
The one thing every travel professional will ask is that you are serious about the trip you are asking us to plan. Everyone loves to daydream about exotic and luxurious travel, but we dedicate significant time to each itinerary. No matter how far out the travel dates are, we respectfully ask that you only ask us to begin planning for travel you intend to book soon.
How can we get started?
Ready to start planning your next adventure? The perfect vacation begins with scheduling your complimentary consultation. Click here to request a time for us to meet. We’ll discuss the details and what you are looking for in your dream vacation. I’ll give you my suggestions and explain how we can best work together to plan the vacation of your dreams.