For many travelers, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of having a travel advisor working for you. As the pandemic emerged, travel restrictions were changing day by day and, often, minute by minute. Many travelers were finding themselves on hold with airlines and cruise lines trying to figure out what was allowed and what wasn’t…and in some cases, some of the online travel websites went bankrupt in a matter of just a few weeks and travelers lost their money.
For several weeks in March of 2020, I spent 8 to 10 hours a day just on hold with various travel suppliers. I got created when needed and sometimes using two different phones and two different lines trying to ensure the most efficient use of my time. In the end, I was able to get every single one of my clients either a refund or vacation rescheduled just like they wanted. Some travelers were not so lucky.
I kept my clients apprised of what was happening and every change and update that affected their individual reservations. Those were such grueling days for me, but my clients were able to sit back and handle other things that were more pressing in their lives at the time…and dream ahead to when they would finally be able to take their trips.
There are a lot of advantages to using a travel advisor. Following are some of the most useful benefits:
Travel Advisors Advocate and Fight for You If Something Goes Wrong
People don’t always realize that a travel advisor can (and should) advocate for you if something unexpected happens on your trip. Maybe you paid for an ocean view room at a swanky resort, but the resort says they are overbooked puts you in a room with a view of the parking lot. You can contact your travel advisor. Often a call from a travel advisor can find a way to make things right.
Sometimes an oversight or confusion of a detail can occur before or even during your trip. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes a mistake will happen that is not your fault. A travel advisor will take the time to go through the information and sort it out for you so that you can get back on track with your vacation. Travel advisors can also be great proponent of getting you compensated with cash or future credit when the fault belongs with the travel supplier whether that be a cruise, hotel, or tour operator.
You Get to Work With the Same Person Every Time You Call
Let’s face it, it can be very frustrating to make a call to a customer service line…any customer service line. Every time you get transferred, you need to explain your situation all over again.
When using a travel advisor, you get to talk to the same advisor every single time you call. They work with you from the early planning stages of your trip until you return home. They get to know you and what you need. They remember why you made the choices you did in hotels or destinations. They are committed to assisting you with your vacation plans.
Travel Advisors are Continuously Training and Getting Educated
A lot of people think to themselves, “Can’t I just plan this trip myself?” You absolutely can! But travel advisors are continuously training with tour operators and cruise lines and theme parks…as well as staying up-to-date and educated on the travel industry as a whole. I personally average one to two hours per day participating in educational opportunities, certifications and trainings.
But it’s more than being educated about the general basics of the travel industry. Travel advisors also take advantage of familiarization trips (also known as fam trips) to experience and inspect hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, as well as being able to sample area attractions and services. Contrary to popular opinion, these trips are often long days and are not relaxing trips for a travel advisor.
Many Travel Advisors are Free to Use
Many people don’t realize this, but most travel advisors cost the traveler absolutely nothing. They don’t need to charge a fee because they are paid via commission by the travel supplier. I do not charge a fee for my travel advisor services.
For example, Disney may pay the travel advisor a set rate commission for booking a package that includes hotel, tickets, and dining. This costs the traveler absolutely nothing extra. The travel advisor looks for special promotions that may be available if you change your check-in date, etc., that the individual may not be aware of. Disney pays the travel advisor a commission because they are specially trained to work with the travelers on putting together a dream family vacation. This benefits Disney because the traveler is calling their travel advisor instead of Disney.
Several things the traveler should take note of:
- If using a travel advisor to do research for a trip, please use them to book it. It would be unethical to use up hours of their time only to turn around and book it directly yourself.
- If you see something that appears to be priced less expensively on an online site such as Expedia, 9 times out of 10 you are not looking at an apples-to-apples comparison. Please let your travel advisor know so that they can try to price match or see if there are restrictions to the lower rate you are seeing that you are not aware of or don’t want.
- Some travel agencies do charge fees to their clients…especially for specialty vacations like destination weddings. Be sure to inquire about any fees a travel advisor may charge prior to working with them.
Travel Advisors Can Help Choose Excursions and Activities Suited to You
Often when we think of travel advisors, we think that they sit around all day just booking the reservations via a computer. While that is certainly one aspect of their job, they are also fantastic resources for helping choose activities and excursions relevant to your vacation.
Are you an active traveler? They can suggest activities and suppliers that can take you zip lining or give you private surf lessons. They can help plan a romantic sunset cruise on a catamaran in Hawaii. As a travel advisor gets to know you better, they can make suggestions catered specifically to you and your family.
Because travel advisors get opportunities to experience travel themselves (and receive feedback from other clients’ travel experiences), they are familiar with many destinations. They are not just aware of the most popular and familiar things to do at a destination, but they can also do additional research and help you pick out the perfect plans.
For example, I recently had a client traveling to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. She wanted to take her daughter for dinner with a princess. There are actually half a dozen different places to have a meal with a princess there, but some of these dining experiences aren’t known to most travelers. I asked her who her daughter’s favorite princess was. She let me know it was Rapunzel. I was able to arrange a breakfast with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. They were one of only a handful of tables at this breakfast so the interaction time with Rapunzel and Flynn was phenomenal. That’s the type of experience a travel advisor can put together for you.
A Travel Advisor Gets to Know You and What You Like
A good travel advisor will work with you vacation after vacation. As they do so, they get to know you and what you prefer on a vacation. Do you prefer first class flights or economy? Do you prefer an upper floor room? A room close to the elevator? A cruise versus an all-inclusive resort? They get to know your likes and dislikes and what is important to you.
The benefit here is that it makes it quicker and simpler to book and work with you each trip. When you call a cruise line’s call center, you have to explain everything to them again and again…every time you call you get someone different. Your travel advisor knows you already. The result is time saved and value and advantages for you!
Travel Advisors Sit on Hold So You Can Spend Your Time Doing Something You Enjoy
Want to catch up and binge watch your favorite TV show? If you’ve ever spent hours on hold with a cruise line, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to lose that time…and they always seem to pick up at the most inopportune time like when you’re trying to get the kids to bed.
Seriously though, one of the best benefits of using a travel advisor is they will save you time. They are the ones to sit on hold with the cruise line and work with them to sort out any problems, errors or questions relating to your reservation.
The best thing about this is that you don’t have to. That means you have more to do something else…just about anything else!
Gifts of Appreciation
Travel advisors enjoy showing their appreciation for your business…and often that will come in the form of a gift.
Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you.–Ralph Marston
I love that quote. I value my clients and wish to show my appreciation for their loyalty and business.
Who doesn’t like walking into your hotel room and find a thank you note with a little something extra like chocolate-covered strawberries or a gift basket…or onboard credit for a cruise. Travel advisors want you not to just book one vacation with them but many more. They put in a lot of work to help you have a great trip and want you to know they appreciate your business.
Travel Advisors Specialize and Focus on Certain Types of Vacations
Travel advisors spend a lot of time being educated and certified. This means many travel advisors have specialties that they focus on. My specialty and focus is on family travel…whether it’s a family of 2 or a family reunion of 200. As a result, I have taken the time to get certified in popular family destinations and types of travel such as group travel, Disney vacations and cruise lines.
Because of this additional training, a travel advisor often continues to watch for price changes and work with their clients to get them the best deals possible. Sometimes that means getting clients a free upgrade or financial savings.
But What If I Like Doing the Planning Myself?
Most travel advisors allow you to do as much or as little planning as you want. Some people enjoy planning the details of their trip. A travel advisor can still add value by making suggestions you might not be aware of. They can handle the general booking of the trip while allowing you to keep control of the particular details you want control of.
A travel advisor can also add the benefit of making you aware of new opportunities and offering up savings like onboard credit on a cruise ship. If something goes wrong, they are there to advocate for you…and spend hours on hold so you don’t have to.
If you’ve never used a travel advisor to help you book your trip, I highly recommend you try it. You just might be surprised at how much less stressful a trip can become when using a trained travel advisor.
If you want more information on how I can benefit you in planning your next trip, please feel free to use the “Contact” page to let me know.