Travel is what makes me tick and if you’re like me, researching the vacation is almost as fun as the actual vacation itself. While the internet has made researching destinations and booking a trip easier and more accessible than ever, the abundance of options can overwhelm even the savviest of travelers. Enter travel agents and advisors. You say travel agents are dead right? Actually wrong, very wrong.
Large online travel agencies like Expedia and Costco travel have hurt the personalized travel advisor business, but in many aspects it’s also helped travel advisors really shine. It’s no secret that I am now a full time travel concierge (ask for Rocky!) and that’s why I am here to tell you why you should be using a personal travel advisor. There is so much that a travel agent can do for you. From providing you advice from their own travel experience and other clients, to placing complimentary holds, and researching answers. Plus good agents have insight to unique deals and travel opportunities.
Do you Pay a Travel Agent – No
First, know that using a travel advisor has no associated costs. A good travel agent saves you money and provides you with a great experience. Travel advisors work off of commissions. In the travel industry hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and travel insurance pay commission to agents for bringing them business. The rates you will find online are often the same rate, or higher than the rate a travel advisor can secure for you. All rates, if you are using a travel advisor or not already have commission baked in. SO if you’re not using a travel advisor, you’re paying the surcharge one without the added benefits.
Many companies will also do travel advisors only sales. Such as the Hurtigruten BOGO sale on expeditions to Antarctica or Galapagos Deal. Or 20% off Seabourn Venture and Pursuit expedition trips. Making trip plans with a travel agent provides you with a lower cost then if you went directly to the cruise line yourself! It might seem odd, but think of it as a thank you for bringing you to their business. It’s also a way for the vendor and agency to build a relationship.
Another example, $1,000 saving per person for all Swan Hellenic expeditions via Scott & Thomas.
Complimentary Extras via a Travel Advisor
Want to get more for the same price? That’s where a travel advisor really shines. There are hotel programs which only are available to travel agent. Hyatt Prive provides complimentary upgrades and full breakfast. This is not available online, but only through an authorized travel agent. Marriott has the Marriott Star & Luminous program. Hilton, Four Seasons, they all have similar programs. But you have to use a travel agent. A travel agent unlocks elite like benefits for all guests!
The cruise industry is a perfect example of where using a travel advisor is necessary. Cruises have very large inventories that fluctuate in supply and demand. There are many people who are repeat customers who cruise again and again for years always going back to the same cruise line. No different than how people chose the same hotel brand or airline.
Cruises do not want to lose the loyalty of customers and travel advisors who provide them with business. So when there are upgrades available who do you think these go to? It costs the cruise line nothing to upgrade a guest from an ocean view room to a balcony room if the balcony stateroom is empty and not sold. So, the cruise lines works with their agents who specialize in cruises to provide clients with complementary extras. These include items such as a one or two class stateroom upgrades, free shore excursions, onboard credits and more. Even for paid upgrades, Travel agent guests get the first choice.
Just recently, I was able to offer four different bookings complimentary upgrades on our Seabourn expedition to Antarctica. Despite reserving the lowest category v1 rooms, I was able to upgrade two couples to a category 4 room and another two to a category 3. Saving my guests between $2,400 and $3,600 per person! Not only did my guests get the best possible deal by booking via me, but they now received a complimentary upgrade. I would never recommend booking a cruise without using a travel advisor – it’s just foolish.
But it’s not just cruises. The added extras are available on tours, hotels, resorts and more. Travel agents are often part of a consortium. These include Affluent Travelers and virtuoso. By booking via a travel consortium you can enjoy addition perks at select locations. These include complimentary daily breakfast, room upgrades, early check-in and/or late check-out, spa credits and more. Benefits vary by hotel and destination.
I even can provide promotional Onboard Credit with Seabourn Cruises and many other cruise lines. Something you do not get when booking direct. Check out all the extras we have here. From extra money on cruises to free upgrades and late check out at hotels. We even have discounts on land tours!
Save Time & Reduce Your Stress
Planning a vacation can take hours. There is so much to do when planning a vacation. Such as, where should you go? Where to stay? How to get there and back? Then once you even decide on a location, there’s hundreds if not thousands of options of places to stay. Thankfully, travel agents can take the guesswork out of researching and evaluating the thousands of options available. A good travel agent is going to ask you what you’re looking for in a vacation and then suggest curated trips that match your preferences.
Travel agents take the hobby of travel to a whole new level. Advisors not only travel and experience many of their recommendations themselves, but they are truly knowledgeable about the destinations, transportation options and different vendors. This alone can eliminate hours of online research time. Depending on your age, travel style, price point, a travel advisor is going to make suggestions that fit your needs. What’s the difference between a Princess Cruise and Celebrity Cruise with the same exact port of calls? A travel advisor can explain. Saving you the headache of researching.
Then, once the trip is actually planned there’s so much more that goes into it. Agents help clients with all types of situations, as they are immersed in travel full-time, so they’re aware of details you might not think of when planning on your own. Their knowledge and experience also gives them the foresight to prevent potential problems. For example, if you’re going on an Antarctica Cruise waterproof boots and pants are required. This is lost in the same print of the booking details. Often overlooked. A good travel advisor is going to ensure that you are well aware of this before departing.
Finally, know that when things do go wrong, your travel agent is on your side. They can work with the vendors to make situations right. A cruise line or hotel chain is likely to respond more graciously to someone who brings them millions of dollars of years in business vs a one time guest. After all, their relationship is on the line. Working with a travel agent will help reduce your stress when things go array.
Navigate Changing Travel Conditions
One word, Covid. The world has changed in the last few years and navigating the ever changing rules and requirements is the job of your travel agent. Keeping up with the details of planning a trip is challenging enough, forget about the added requirements for Covid. Are vaccines required? A PCR Test? If so, when and how early? These are things travelers use to never have to think about, yet are essential to travel today. Countries and vendors have rules in place to keep people safe and healthy. Instead of worrying about it, let your travel advisor do this work for you.
Enjoy a Better Vacation
The entire purpose of vacation is to reset and recharge. Some vacations are learning experiences, others are for relaxation at the beach. It doesn’t matter if it’s Luxurious African Safari, or an Expedition to remote parts of the world you’re going to have a better vacation when you work with a travel advisor. Travel advisors live, breath, and think travel 24/7. Travel concierges are better connected and have access to benefits you can’t get yourself. They know what they sell and most important most have been on the product. Going to Antarctica. You likely need a guide for that. The cruise line won’t have anything like that. Best yet, they cost you nothing and can match and often beat any prices you find. They plan a better trip and then provide a safety net. Don’t worry about long hold times with Expedia, because when you work with a travel advisor you know, they are easily reachable and quick to help.
Remember, having a top travel agent can make you an instant VIP, save you time, and likely money. A travel advisor is going to curate a trip based on your desires to see the world and make options manageable to choose from. So I invite you to take the stress out of travel planning. Let me book your next vacation or make suggestions. Shoot me an email, and we can get your vacation planning started!