Where do you turn for wisdom about travel? The internet? Did you look at the independent review sites, the ones that were just caught boosting ratings for money? How about a person whose job it is to know these things. Is it out dated to think of a real person, a travel agent? I hope not.
Today’s travel professionals (call them agents, planners, professionals, designers or curators) are here to work on your behalf to get you the travel experience you dream about. I interviewed a few of my fellow agents to find out what they wish you, the traveller, knew about what we know.
1. We Specialize
The new breed of travel professionals are focused on knowing specific types of travel. Adventure Generations is for families and multigenerational groups. Through my own experiences and much research I amass wisdom about that one area. Ask me how painters tape can help when traveling with infants and toddlers. “A specialist opens the way for immediate cultural immersion you cannot find on your own without living in the destination for an extended period of time,” says Theresa Jackson of Enlightened Journeys Travel, which specializes in sustainable and transformational experiences. Do you need a destination wedding, a trip to reignite your marriage or want to see Africa like a local? I can send you to someone whose greatest joy and expertise would be to design that trip for you.
2. We Are Not Alone
No agent is an island. We are connected to teams, networks and consortiums that are resources the average person does not have. You receive the benefit of our entire network of professionals. I recently learned a huge lesson from the experience of Ashely Metesh-McCoy of Kinship Vacations who shared her cautionary tale of visas for connecting flights in South America.
3. Travel Agents Love Travel
You would be hard pressed to find an industry where the workers are as excited as the travel industry. Agents are also travelers who get “in-depth knowledge from visiting and staying at hotels and not by reading trip advisor reviews.” from Kristi ZaverEmo at Your Dream Escapes. A young agent designing a river cruise vacation for a retired couple, knows the thrill of travel so will work hard for her clients. As Debra Harris, from Life’s Journey Travel, puts it, “I know how to savor life through travel, one journey at a time!” Debra works hard until she finds the trip that will give that joy to each of her clients.
4. Wise Use of Resources
Anthony Bourdine, of the Travel Channel, was recently quoted as saying, it is best to “wander in one city, in one town” and “never book a prepackaged tour.” It would be nice if everyone could linger in remote beautiful areas, camp with bedouin shepherds, and amble through sub-Saharan Africa. Sounds like fun but what is more fun is the real vacation we can plan for you. Scott Ludlum, Panama Travel Consultants, put it this way, we know “what can feasibly be seen and done in the amount of time [you] have.” Money and time are limited commodities to most of us and travel agents can help you make the most of it to live your own dream vacation. Tammy Murphy, VIP Travel Experience, says, “We use their time and dollars wisely. We find out what is important to them and we find the best value through our destination connections/specialists, while they continue on with their everyday demanding schedules.”
5. Time and Headaches
Travel Professionals save you both time and headaches. “I save them a lot of time and hassle. There is so much information on the internet these days and it’s hard to know what’s accurate and what’s not.” says Roxanne O’Donoghue of Nurturing Hearts Travel. “I’m the one that sits on hold, checks fares, prices, etc. saving them hours and hours of mindless time.” When a nor’easter traps you in an airport, do you want to be the one on hold with United Airlines for two hours? Roxanne does that for her clients.
6. It’s All About You
Life is a journey and it’s your life and journey. “We probe, ask you questions, and explain things so that our recommendations are personalized to you and your likes, dislikes, and travel dreams. That’s something the internet can’t do,” says Ted Blank, of Luxury Travels and Adventures. A recent client of Adventure Generations called it “spinning their wheels.” Analysis paralysis is for reals people. An agent is expecting to spend resources on planning, then providing support before, during and after your trip. One client told me he likes that I charge a planning fee because he wants to know it’s ok when he is needy. Fair enough, I agree.
So call, text, or email your friendly, local, neighborhood travel curator. We love talking travel.