In the age of the internet, it's easy to think that travel agents/specialists/planners (we go by many names) are as outdated as a rotary phone. You can't even talk about traveling without Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter throwing up sponsored ads for exactly the place you just mentioned. It's easier to search for deals, things to do, and places the go.
The thing is, all of that information that is easy to find can get extremely overwhelming. Even if you know where to start, it doesn't take long to fall down the rabbit hole with pages and pages of bookmarks to notes, and you are no closer to booking your trip than you were before you started.
This is where having a good travel specialist comes in. They can ask you the right questions to help you narrow down your choices in a destination. A qualified specialist will get a feel for your personality and match it to the right venue and recommend and book tours and travel that fit your travel style.
If you're reading this, you're probably still thinking “Well yeah, but…”
Can you research, shop, and book the different pieces of your vacation online? Sure. I did it for years. But it takes a lot of commitment and time. Going to site after site finding the best deals, the tours that are mostly what you had in mind, and comparing Google vs. Tripadvisor reviews can get overwhelming.
Doing your research is definitely a great place to start in your vacation planning lifecycle, but even after all that research, you can never be sure of exactly where you end up or if it's really what you are looking for.
A trusted travel specialist can take your research to a new level. Not relying solely on customer-generated reviews (which, let's be honest, tend to skew negative no matter who it's for), but on industry knowledge, exclusive tools, and our own personal experiences. We will find the venue, tours, and adventures that fit your travel style and personality. And we can often do it at a great price. No more shopping around from site to site, Googling coupon codes, or trying your luck on discount sites. We have access to hundreds of deals and promos right at our fingertips!
Travel specialists can save you hours of your own precious time, frustrations, and uncertainty.
Yup. Hundreds of them. From Groupon packages to discount hotel rooms, there are a ton of places online that you can find deals. But they are, as they say, like a box of chocolates; You never know what you're gonna get!
As I've mentioned in a past post, I used to work front desk at a downtown hotel. There is a hierarchy in place at all hotels when it comes to who gets what rooms. Loyalty members, high rate paying, or in-house groups get priority on room types and the more desirable locations. Lowest on the totem pool: 3rd party booking sites.
Their room types are never guaranteed by the hotel (even if it says otherwise on the booking site). On any given weekend, the hotel may have a group in-house using most of our doubles and a few rack-rate (regular rate) customers that are guaranteed doubles. When you walk in with your spouse, 2 kids, and a 3rd party booking site reservation in hand, unfortunately, all I have for you is a king-size bed and MAYBE a rollaway (if they aren't sold out) for an extra $30.
Or you may buy a travel package online but they are a bit…vague…about the hotel you are going to. Chances are you'll end up at a less than desirable venue. I've actually seen this one happen. They advertised a stay at a historic castle. Well, it wasn't untrue, however, that specific castle had been transformed into a hostel. The advertised onsite “restaurant” was a takeaway café that also sold beer and wine spritzers.
Now, if you are the adventurous type that doesn't really care about where you stay, then I say go for it! Life is short, get the great deal and add that to your adventure stories! However, if you're traveling with a family, or certain expectations, a travel specialist has access to similar travel packages, but with respected travel companies and venues you can trust! We also book through our specialized tools that go directly to the hotels and therefore can guarantee room types.
This is a tough one for me as well. I'm not great at delegation for work either. Why spend the time telling someone what I want done and risk them not getting right when I know I can do it myself?
For work or travel, this is not really the best way to work. For starters, as mentioned above, we can save you a LOT of time in searching and shopping. On top of that, if you have a good travel specialist, they will take the time to learn your personality and needs; your likes and dislikes, and sometimes can even learn things about you that you didn't even realize. They can then take this and give you suggestions that you wouldn't know to look for on your own.
They are also helpful when you are stuck and don't know exactly where you want to go. Maybe you only know you want an all-inclusive vacation for you and your spouse. Or maybe you want family fun in a quiet, less-traveled spot don't know where exactly that might be. It could even be that you have NO idea what kind of vacation you want. Talking to a specialist who asks the right questions, can help you get over the “Destination Block” and narrow down the choices. They can then help you compare/contrast the choices and book the place that was in your head the whole time, but you didn't know.
The best part is, the next time you travel, they already know your style, personality, likes, dislikes, and more, so they may come to you with destinations and venues right off the bat. Or, they may send you a deal or special on a recommended location before you even know you are ready to travel again.
True. But unless you are going to the same place every time, there are always things you aren't going to know. It may be COVID restrictions or cultural norms. It may be some ‘must see' places that are on the road less traveled. We have the tools and experience to find destinations, venues, and experiences that can surprise even the most seasoned of travelers.
OK, you've got me there, EXCEPT…
I can't always get you the best prices on flight and our systems don't always book them the way you want. Often, we will tell you if you aren't booking as part of a package, that we can help you figure out the best flight options, but you should purchase the airfare on your own either via points or with the airline directly.
That being said, travel specialists can offer travel packages including hotel, airfare, cars, and more. These packages are booked with respected and trustworthy tour companies and can be as inclusive as you want them to be. It may be a single destination or hopping around and the flights, rooms, and sometimes even tours are all included.
Fair. I wouldn't want my customer taking a trip if they are just going to be anxious the whole time and not actually enjoy it. However, I strive to educate my clients on the safety measure and restrictions that will keep them safe during their travels. Especially if you are vaccinated and take the right precautions, you don't have to be scared to travel, even now.
COVID rules and regulations are changing almost daily, there are always sites you can research. However, when you book through a travel specialist, we will keep you updated on any changes, advise you on any actions you must or should take, and alert you if anything will affect your trip. You are not left wondering about your status or if you should or shouldn't cancel your trip. We are here to guide you to the best of our ability.
That is the best part – most of* the services that travel specialists offer are FREE. There are no mark-ups or pass-through costs. We won't charge you a retainer or bill you after the fact. The only costs you pay are the actual costs of what will become your best vacation ever.
In addition to us being able to get you fantastic deals at no added charge to you, we can often get you special add-ons! We have access to partner vendors worldwide, who offer special freebies, upgrades, and treats to our clients just for booking with us! These are deals you absolutely can't get when you book online.
There are so many benefits to working with a travel agent. Let us design the best vacation for you and your group. Whether you are newlyweds on your honeymoon or grandparents taking your whole family on a special trip, let me help you Picture Yourself Traveling!
*Note, some travel specialists do charge to book your flights if not part of a package. My company chooses not to do this and instead refers you to flights that may work well for you and sites where you can book on your own.