Many people wonder why I willingly became a purveyor of travel, especially when consumers have the Internet available to them. “We can book travel ourselves on the Internet. Who needs you?” is a question which was posed to me by one of my “friends.” Polite, no. Honest, yes. It got me thinking about how to describe what I do and how to attribute a value to it; a value that people can understand. Here I am, ready to dispel some myths about travel advisors.
Most travelers today are budget conscious. They want to get the biggest bang for their buck. We all have a friend who paid very a cheap fare for a typically expensive flight to ‘wherever’ by purchasing their tickets on the Internet. Of course, when you go online to find a similar deal, it’s never available or perhaps if it is available, the flight schedule is terribly inconvenient.
Here’s the deal – as far as flights are concerned, many times you’ll find a great deal that’s only offered on a specific airline’s website. These deals will not be found in the massive database to which a travel advisor has access, nor will they be found on any of the typical online travel web sites. When you check with a travel advisor, they have access to nearly every flight on every airline and, if the flight exists, they can usually find you precisely what you are looking for. However, you may be able to book your flight for less if you go directly to the website of the airline with which you are considering traveling.
Budget conscious travelers looking to book a package which includes a resort stay, air travel and perhaps a rental car can find a wide variety of information on the internet. What they probably don’t realize is that the information they have access to as a travel consumer is quite limited. They may believe that they are getting a bargain because the vacation package they are being offered is “bundled” together and not itemized in detail. Also, they must trust a website to provide accurate photographs, depictions and information about the resort which they are pondering. In the majority of cases, the traveler is not speaking with a person who has actually traveled to the resort in question and can only give them the highlights based on the promotional information supplied to them by the resort.
When you work with a travel advisor, you can speak with a person who has personal knowledge of the resort and the region that you are planning to visit. A good travel advisor will also confer with colleagues and friends who have recently visited a specific resort so that the information that they provide is current and accurate. In addition to advising you where to stay or eat, they will also let you know about the best places to experience the amenities and activities in which you have expressed an interest.
Many times, the budget conscious traveler will opt out of purchasing travel insurance. This can be a mistake. Although it seems like an easy way to save money, there is a legitimate purpose for insuring your travel experience. Internet travel websites do not explain that need. Picture this: You are vacationing on the Gulf Coast having a wonderful time and suddenly a storm, perhaps another ‘Katrina’, is expected to hit while you are there. If you have travel insurance, you will be protected from any loss that you may sustain. No travel insurance could equal big headaches.
As a matter of fact, a colleague of mine had clients who were vacationing on the Gulf Coast when Katrina hit. Her clients were quickly moved into a safe shelter and then taken to the airport where they received priority arrangements for their flights back to their home airport. These travelers, as well as the others who worked with other travel advisors, were given priority on flights out of the region because their travel advisors had immediately gone to work to assure that they would experience a minimum of inconvenience. They watched the people who had booked their flights on their own wait around and argue with the airline personnel trying to get back home. Most of the travelers who booked their trips with travel advisors were quickly and efficiently rebooked on available flights.
When you work with a competent travel advisor, you can rest assured that there is a person who has your well-being in mind and has “got your back” under any circumstance. A good travel advisor will provide you with an emergency contact number or even their personal cell phone number where you can reach them at virtually any time.
Budget conscious travelers wrongly assume, as do many people, that it costs more when you book your travel through a travel agency. In fact, in practice, it is the opposite. Travel advisors have the latest promotional information at their fingertips. They are inundated daily with sales and promotions which make it more likely that you will get a better deal on your vacation when you are booking through a travel advisor than when you book on your own. The travel advisor has made a career out of cultivating relationships with travel industry partners and therefore can usually offer you the best value possible.
With so many travel options out there, arranging for your own travel can be overwhelming. Travel advisors work as your ‘value interpreters.’ Using our expertise and professional connections, we can find amazing experiences that exceed your every desire, but not your budget. When you book your vacation through a professional travel advisor, you can be confident that your vacation will be perfectly planned, hassle-free, and filled with lasting memories.
So what can we do for you? Travel advisors like me can do everything to help you plan your travel experience; everything short of traveling with you. When you contact a travel advisor, you can be sure you are speaking with someone who is personally committed to making your vacation experience everything you are hoping it will be, and more. You can feel confident that you will be getting the very best value for your money. You can also feel confident in knowing that an expert in the industry will be there for you from the planning of your travel until you’re safely home.
Christina, Your Travel Diva