Full disclosure! Most of this blog post comes from a wonderful article I just read in the latest (summer 2018) ASTA publication by Erika Rcichter, the Director of Communications of the American Society of Travel Advisors. ASTA decided recently to change the name from AGENT to ADVISOR to fully reflect the value of the professional travel planner as it has evolved in the last 15-20 years or so with the age of the internet. An agent takes orders…an advisor does so much more than that! Here’s that list of things that are very important for you to know. Grab a cup of joe or your favorite adult beverage and join me for a moment.
1. Our careers are based on knowing things, places and people that you don’t know.
A good advisor has spent countless years building relationships with suppliers and destination counterparts so that our clients can enjoy exclusive access, VIP treatment and special amenities wherever and whenever they travel. Sometimes these are complimentary, bringing amazing value to you.
2. We know the value of your vacation time and how to protect it.
Travel insurance! If you break your leg a week before your travel and are unable to go, you need to have travel insurance. Being young and healthy does not mean you don’t need it! Most US travelers have no medical coverage with their plan when they step off US soil. The insurance is for all unexpected emergencies, including even some weather events, so don’t leave the country without it. I work mostly with Arch Roam/Right and Travel Safe, but also can offer Travel Guard.
Don’t rely on reviews on websites from people you don’t know. I subscribe to a program that provides professional reviews of ships, destinations, and resorts. And if we have not been to your resort, we typically know someone who has and can give you first-hand feedback.
4. It’s all about you!
The more information you can give us about your preferences and interests, the better we can tailor the tour or vacation to your interests. DO you have teenage boys into music? Let’s add a London tour that includes visits to Paul McCartney’s house, Abbey Road Studios, or other rock artist-themed sites.
Yes, sometimes there is a cheaper option, but if we don’t mention it to you there really is a reason and the money you might save is truly not worth what you are giving up.
6. There are times we can make magic happen, but please don’t beg us for help when you need to make changes to the “advance pay/no changes” reservation that you insisted we book.
Murphy’s Law…it’s always that time when we book a pre-paid rate that changes will need to be made. Be certain that the savings are worth the possible loss. Although if it’s a covered reason and you bought insurance, you will be protected.
Yes, even on our family vacations we are taking notes and making appointments for inspections of hotels in the area for you. When we are on business familiarization trips to destinations, sometimes we visit 5-15 different hotels. WE document every meal and room type, take photos for you, and notice the little things that can make a big difference for you. These “vacations” are just another part of the training.
8. Please don’t base your hotel choices on web reviews.
You really have no idea who these reviewers are, what their expectations are, or what their perception of “great” is. So, we choose your hotels based on what YOUR needs and expectations are. Be sure to have those conversations with your advisor spelling it out for them so they can do their magic for you.
9. You may be leaving money on the table when you book hotels direct instead of booking with and advisor.
Often and advisor can add value to your reservations with perks like room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts, or special extras like a spa, or food and beverage credit. Sound good?
10. We provide more than just an airline ticket–We provide support before, during and after your flight.
Would you like to know the best logical air route and have advice about connecting times, baggage restrictions, or have help with cancelled flights, missed connections and schedule changes?
11. We practice what we preach.
We are very well-traveled, typically having been to dozens of countries, and we share firsthand insights with our clients. The chances are very good that we have already been where you are going!
12. Book your vacation as soon as possible.
Cruises, tours, resorts, dining reservations and shore excursions should be booked as early as possible, so you will have the best pricing and selection for what you are looking for. This also holds true for vacation rentals on the beach. The best gets snatched up early!
I am your advocate…there is no reason not to get you the best price possible.
14. Your travel advisor is the expert.
After asking all the right questions, we will offer expert advice to guide you in making the right decision regarding how you spend your time on your vacation. Each part of your trip will fit like a giant jig-saw puzzle.
15. If time is money, think of us as asset managers.
You cannot take a “re-do” when a vacation turns sour, and time is your most precious asset. Let us take the stress out of planning…or, if you love the research, let’s do it together! I must share, it’s fun and rewarding to work together planning your adventures. If you are ready to discuss your travel ideas, let’s get started soon!