In these very unusual times when we are all just starting to venture out a little from the safety of our homes, I thought it might make sense for me to start back at square one. I’m usually writing about all of the amazing vacations that are out in the world and giving my best tips on how to experience them. But this week I'd like to use this time to explain exactly what travel advisors do and how the travel business works. By taking the time to explain this, I hope that you’ll come away with a better understanding of how I may be of service to you.
Planning travel is not a "one size fits all" endeavor. What may have been an ideal resort for you and your spouse may not be the best choice for your family vacation. The same can be said for the amazing vacation your friends just got back from – just because they loved it does not mean you will too. Just as a financial advisor advises their clients on their finances, a travel advisor advises their clients on their travel arrangements. This is one reason why there has been a big shift in the industry, with many agents choosing to call themselves a Travel Advisor rather than a Travel Agent.
As a travel advisor, I take a different approach when creating my clients’ vacations than travel agents of the past would have done. One key difference is that I don't book all destinations. I'm a firm believer that if I haven't traveled there myself, I can't be of much more help to you than the internet. That's the reason I take advantage of travel opportunities and specialize in certain destinations. Another difference is I don't always try to find you the cheapest rate. Some clients come to me with the belief that the cost of the trip is above all else. While money certainly is a big concern, receiving the most value should be what's important. Most of the time, I can look at the deal you've found online and tell you why I wouldn't recommend it to you. Even when you have a small budget to work with, you still want to have a great experience.
I believe my clients’ vacation, no matter how big or small, is an investment in their life. Many of life’s unforgettable memories are from those once-in-a-lifetime moments that occur while traveling. That’s why I take the time to get to know my clients as well as I possibly can. I want to know if you’re an early riser or prefer to sleep in. I want to know if you’re the type to set off on a spontaneous road trip or if you’re someone who doesn’t pull out of the driveway without a destination plugged into the GPS. I want to know that you would rather pig-out on junk food than dine at a five-star restaurant. And I want to know all of these little things so that when you set off on your vacation, it feels like it was created just for you.
Part of what makes this possible is the time I invest in learning about the world’s destinations and building relationships with my suppliers. There are always updates on activities or upgrades going on at various destinations, resorts, and on cruises. And, of course, this year has added the need to keep up to date on what countries are opening their borders and when that will be and what restrictions will come with that, and the list goes on. This is a big part of my job as a travel advisor that my clients don’t even think about; and that’s exactly how it should be. I’m here to take away all the stress, worry, and overwhelm that often comes with traveling.
I've found out over the years that many of my clients have no idea how a travel advisor is paid. For me, it involves a few things. For some types of trips that I am asked to book for my clients, I must charge a professional fee in order to make it worth my time. For other travel, I receive a commission payment from the travel supplier which is paid after you complete your travel. If someone contacts me who is not a referral or is someone I don't know, I will usually charge a fee because if they receive a quote from me, but then book it on their own, I don't get paid. If someone books their own travel on a website for a vacation I have helped plan, the resort does not pay me. Sometimes clients just don't know this, and they also don't always know that quite often I have access to special amenities that are not available to the general traveler. When you work with me, you are getting my knowledge and expertise, in addition to my resources and connections. Travel can be a very tough business at times, but this is yet another reason why I aim to build a relationship with my clients. I don’t want to just book your next vacation, I want to be the one you come to year after year.
I hope this shines a little light on the role of a travel advisor and on how the travel industry as a whole operates. I hope with this information you will feel more informed on why you should do business with a trusted travel advisor. When the time is right, I hope you'll contact me. The world is waiting for you!