Welcome to the sixth post in my series “Top Travel Mistakes.” I previously collected information on the biggest mistakes people make when traveling and composed a list of the top 10 (plus a few bonus tips!) This series explores and expands on that list and provides more detail about how to avoid making these common errors when you travel.
# 6 Not Using A Travel Agent
Now, you may think that I’ve added this “Big Travel Mistake” to the list for a bit of self-promotion and job security, but I can assure you that is not the reason. I truly believe that using a travel agent, travel planner, or whatever they refer to themselves as, is always the way to go when planning a trip, adventure, or vacation, and I’m going to tell you why…
Imagine finally getting to take that trip you’ve always dreamed about, but not knowing where to start. No problem, you begin by researching hotels- hundreds of them come up. It’s going to take a while to go through them all to find the one that’s right for you. After a few hours you need a break and switch to looking for some fun activities for when you’re there. Again, hundreds of ideas come up. You read through all of the descriptions and reviews and recommendations and… several hours later you still have no idea what you’re going to do. You pick a few that interest you and write them down with the intention to come back and research them later.
The next day you jump back online and start looking at flights. You spend some time playing with dates and times to find what will work best for you. You’re afraid of booking too far in advance because something might come up, but you don’t want to wait too long or you may not get the flight you want. The stress is starting to get to you. You turn the computer off and decided you’ll come back to all of this some other time.
You later talk to someone who has been to this destination before! They recommend a couple of tours and restaurants that they loved and really talk the place up. The next time you jump online you look into their recommendations and find out that they are no where near where you were planning to stay… but now wonder if you picked the right city to stay in, or if maybe you should change your plans. Having never been there before, you really don’t know what to do.
Another friend asks if you are renting a car or planning to use public transportation… There’s another thing you need to look into. How does one make these decisions? By the end of the night, you’re tired, frustrated, and ready to call the whole thing off.
A month goes by and you are ready to give it another go. You pull up flights and see that, not only is the flight you wanted already full, but prices have gone up considerably. You pick a new date where you notice prices have dropped, but you don’t realize that its’s because you’d be booking during the cold and rainy season. You move on to hotels. At this point, you don’t want to go through all of that research again, so you just pick one that looks nice and has good reviews.
Unfortunately, it’s nowhere near your airport, and also quite a distance from any of the tours you wanted to take (which may not even be operating at that time of the year due to weather conditions.) Now you have to rent a car, for all the traveling you’ll be doing.
To top it all off, you wake up with the flu a couple days before you are supposed to travel and really wish you could just reschedule… but you didn’t even think to get travel insurance. What a nightmare.
Now Try This…
What you just did was take an amazing vacation that you had always dreamed going on of and turned it into something you ended up dreading. Unfortunately, this isn’t all that uncommon. Here’s how it could have gone differently if you had worked with a travel agent…
You schedule your first appointment and meet over a Zoom call. You tell her (or him) all about your dream vacation and everything you hope to get out of it! Your travel agent picks up on some of the key things you’ve said and takes great notes. She engages in conversation with you and knows all of the right questions to ask about your travel style, flexibility, and expectations. By the end of the call she already has some great ideas and proceeds to tells you about the planning process. You decide to hire her.
Your travel agent spends the next day or so researching, making calls, and doing all the planning for you. 24-48 hours later you jump back on Zoom and have your next call. This time your travel agent has your whole trip already created for you. We’ve checked the best time of year to visit your destination, what the weather should be like, searched flights that suit your needs, found you the perfect hotel that is only a short distance to several of activities you said you’d be interested in, and even threw in some of our own recommendations.
During this appointment you make one or two minor adjustments and are ready to book! You receive an email with all of the appropriate paperwork that needs signed, (including a travel insurance options for you to look over that covers all unforeseen events), and as soon as we receive those signed documents back, we get you completely booked! All you have to do now it decide what you need to pack! Not sure what you’ll need? No worries! We got you covered for that, too! (Here’s my ultimate packing list for you to download for free!)
All of that took you about one hour of having a conversation with someone and zero stress! You may start relaxing… now!
Here’s The Deal
The list of reasons you should use a travel agent is endless, and the only reason you shouldn’t is because you don’t know any better. So, what’s holding people back? The number one reason people say they don’t want to work with a travel agent is because they might charge a fee. Now, here me out… Whether an agent charges a fee or not is totally up to them and how much they think their time and services are worth. (Full disclosure, I do.)
Imagine hiring a contractor to come install new windows and thinking you’re not going to pay them. You know you have to purchase the materials needed, but you also have to pay the person for their time and work to install them. It’s the same with travel agents… and we typically give way better customer service than your typical window guy (or gal).
The thing you need to keep in mind is that, just like your window guy, travel agents are also contractors. You are hiring us to provide a service that is complicated, time-consuming, and stressful. You don’t need all that in your life. You’ve got more important things to worry about. We are experts in our field! We’re used to the researching and planning because we do it all the time. We know exactly what to look for, and how to find it. Honey, we’ve got connections… And on top of saving you one heck of a headache, we may even be able to save you some money through special offers and deals that aren’t made available to the general public!
Oh, well, I guess that does make sense.
Yes, it does.
Ok, now that we’re clear on all of that, let’s move on to some of the other reasons you need to start using a travel agent for every single one of your trips…
We’re trained professionals. You may think that all it takes to be a travel agent is a computer and some research skills, but that’s just the very tip of the iceberg. There are trainings for just about every destination, every experience, and every cruise line you can think of! When you are promoting a specific vendor or company, you are representing them, so they want you to be an expert in their products and services. This is one of the reasons why many travel agents specialize in only one or two areas- there’s no way to be an expert in everything! So…..
If we have a niche, you can rest assured that we are very well trained in that area. For example: If you’re looking to rent a private plane to take you and your family to a private island, where you will have specially catered private tours, you will want to find a travel agent who specializes in Private Travel (ahem, *waves*) Almost all of my trainings are with companies or private owners that offer top-of-the-line private experiences for customers looking for an elevated and unique way to travel. I’ve never bothered to train in Disney, or Carnival, or many other companies because they do not offer the experiences that I want my clients to have. However, many of my TA friends are Disney specialists. The great thing here is that if you come to me looking for something I can’t offer, you can rest assured that I will point you in the direction of someone I know personally and trust who can assist you.
The best thing about working with just a few select vendors is that you get to know each other very well. Building a relationship with the companies whose experiences you are selling helps things run a lot smoother. I can call up any one of my preferred or private vendors at any time for a recommendation, advice, or to solve a problem, and I will know exactly who I am speaking with. We’ve come to know, trust, and respect one another. When I know that you will give me and my clients top notch service, you can trust that I will faithfully continue promoting and selling your experiences.
We Have The Experience
Aside from the training, travel agents also have a lot of first-hand experience. One of the reasons I started my business is because I just wanted to travel more. This is one of the few jobs that doesn’t only encourage you to travel for work, but in some ways, it requires you to.. We have favorite airports, favorite resorts, favorite tour companies, favorite experiences… And we want to tell you about the ones we like and which ones to avoid.
We take note of everything from how long it takes to get through airport security, to the distance to beaches, to what the accommodations are like… How clean is it? How friendly and helpful are the staff? What’s the food like? What kind of amenities are provided? Is it handicap accessible? Is there entertainment- if so, what? What questions might our clients want answered? What are the all the pros and cons of the experience. We are expected to take notes, take pictures, conduct interviews, make videos, live stream, notice everything, ask questions, and really create a story that will paint a picture of what our clients could expect if they take the trip. First-hand experience really is the best way for us to get the need-to-know knowledge that we can then relay to you, our client.
Travel agents will also know WHAT to research. I don’t just mean flights and hotels, but all of the things that you will need for your trip. We look into weather, packing necessities, what documents you will need to travel, if any vaccinations are required, how early you should arrive at the airport, layover durations, whether or not to rent a car, things to do, where to eat, whether or not you need to exchange currency, where to exchange currency, language obstacles, different laws you should be aware of, and anything else you may want to, or need to know before departing.
Did you know that it’s illegal to wear army or camouflaged print in Jamaica unless you are actually part of their forces? Would you have thought to look that up?
The BEST Customer Service
I could go on and on about all the reasons you should use a travel agent, but I will leave you with one more, and probably my favorite. Our customer service is outstanding. I’ve worked in many customer-service roles throughout my life, but this one is truly client-catering. We aren’t trying to flatter you into buying that dress, or trying to remember to smile so that you’ll want to leave a tip… Traveling is an investment, and not a cheap one. What we are doing is helping you in creating the perfect experience that you will remember for the rest of your life! We will go above and beyond to ensure you love your adventure and can’t wait to on the next one. We want you to be just as passionate about seeing the world as we are… And then we would like you to tell all of your family, friends, and co-workers about the amazing time you had… and then refer them back to your awesome agent who helped make it all possible. 😊
But no, seriously, we do want that. There’s a lot of competition out there, and the best advertising we get is by word of mouth. So if you do work with a travel agent that you absolutely love, please be sure to share my information, I mean theirs, who ever it is, with everyone you know!
I encourage you to take advantage of our experience and knowledge and save yourself some time and stress! We are here to make life easier for you, so that you can start looking forward to your trip right away! I guarantee that once you start working with a travel agent you know, trust, and love, you will never take on the burden of planning another vacation again!
Let’s Work Together!
I would love to meet you, and get to know all about your dream vacation! So, if you’re ready to schedule your first travel consultation with me, please see my info below! Not quite ready to start planning yet, take a look at my Planning Process to see how we work and get inspired!
I appreciate you taking the time to read this article, and I do hope you’ve found the information in it valuable. Please remember to like, follow, and subscribe so that you never miss out on my travel tips and updates! Feel free to leave a comment below letting me know how I’m doing, or a topic you’d like to see in the future!
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