Why I haven’t left the house in three days...1. When I first meet with a prospective new client, I am used to all of the usual questions; "Why should I use a travel agent?", "How do you get paid?", "What can you do for me that I can’t do for myself online?", etc. I have been asked these questions countless times.
Is everyone with a camera a photographer? Is everyone with a blog a journalist? Likewise, is everyone with a computer a travel expert? The difference in each instance is years of training, experience, vetting products and relationships, and a little dash of intuition.
January is typically the busiest time of the year for travel professionals. Why? I guess families get together over the holidays and discuss their travel plans for the next year...then when the kids go back to school, they pick up the phone and call their local, friendly travel expert. That’s great for me, as a business owner, but also tends to be a very busy time as my “To Do” list typically grows each and every day. I wake up with my list of trips to research, documents to deliver, travel articles to write, emails to return, social media ads to post... usually leading to more new ones added than old ones crossed-off when I leave my desk at the end of the evening. Complaining? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I absolutely LOVE it! It’s my passion! So please permit me to explain a little bit and hopefully clear up some misperceptions of what I do:
Here’s the thing...you don't ALWAYS need a travel expert ...if you want to book round trip air from Charlotte to Buffalo and stay in the Holiday X on the corner of1st Avenue and Main Street, you probably don’t need me! I am an expert in custom-crafting vacations that are going to provide you with the EXPERIENCES you are longing for. I don’t just “book travel”. It ALWAYS amounts to some well-researched (and vetted) advice on which Caribbean all inclusive or which Hawaiian island is the right fit for your dreams. THEY ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT! It involves literally hours upon hours of detailed planning, research and jigsaw-puzzle precision to put together a 10 day custom European journey through 1 to 3 different countries for a couple or family who want to immerse themselves into each culture with art or culinary classes. I am happy to go to any lengths necessary to craft that perfect EXPERIENCE for my clients...it’s what I do! And it turns out to be a gift of mine!
2. If you send me an email that says “I found a deal online for a week in Jamaica at the XYZ resort for $599...Can you beat it?” I’m going to let out a big sigh and pour another glass of wine. First of all, how can we know that the XYZ resort is a good fit for you? Secondly, we have no idea what the good "deal" includes. Nine times out of ten, I have learned that if SOMETHING looks too good to be true, always is. I've had clients that saw a great price online, then once they pressed the button with their "on-line travel agent" realized the advertised price was "PER ADULT" and did not include tax and the tiny print had some language about "or comparable". Please don't fall victim to "steps from ... the beach, city center" etc. literally I see these and I know its over "a mile of steps from".
Saving money is great, and I'm all for staying within budget and getting a good value for my own travel dollars, but don't reduce your vacation experience to being treated like a commodity. When an item is a “commodity”, there are no differences between the same item sourced from different places – except price. I really do have your best interests in mind...trust me to do what I do best and find you the perfect fit and the greatest value for your precious vacation time and budget.
3. Finally, keep this in mind...when you hit the “Buy now” button online and purchase that vacation from an invisible travel agent, you receive confirmation numbers and that's the end. Are there any unique experiences included? When you give me, or any other hard working travel professional, the “go ahead” to book that same vacation (often at the exact same price, or better), you receive your travel documents, destination information, restaurants recommendations and sightseeing suggestions or reservations, along with the promise that we have YOUR BACK until you return home from the trip ... and even beyond! If anything goes wrong on the trip, we are that extra security blanket and advocates for YOU and YOUR well being. Try getting Mr. Orbitz or Expedia to pick up the phone at 6:00 a.m. to argue with the French hotel desk clerk about the noise level, or lack of air conditioning in your room! That my friend is "VALUE" for your travel dollar.
Ultimately though, it amounts to WHAT is important to you. If you want LIFE ENRICHING or CHANGING experiences, it probably can't be found with a "BUY NOW" button.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to help you plan your vacation to ANYWHERE! Together we can create the best vacation experience for YOU. It's a big world out there -- we hope you EXPERIENCE it.