In celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is sharing some helpful insights provided by travel professionals who connect travelers to the world with 15 Things Your Travel Agent Wants You To Know for you to consider:
Photo by Cynthia Dial1) Our careers are based on knowing things, places and people, that you don’t know. We have spent most of our careers establishing and building relationships with our supplier and destination counterparts, so that our clients can enjoy exclusive access, VIP treatment and special amenities wherever and whenever they travel. In some cases these benefits are complementary to the traveler – just one more way travel advisors provide superior value.
2) We know the value of your vacation time, and how to protect it. If you can’t afford to lose everything you’ve paid for your trip - say if you fall and break your leg two weeks before you are supposed to travel - you need to buy travel insurance. Being young and healthy doesn’t mean you don’t need insurance. And your U.S. health insurance may not offer medical coverage outside the U.S. Travel insurance is for unexpected emergencies, regardless of your age or health.
3) We will be honest if you ask our opinion on a resort or cruise ship. We rely on our personal experience, not reviews on websites from people you don’t know. And if we haven’t been to your resort - we usually know someone who has and can give you first-hand feedback.
4) It’s all about YOU! The more information clients can give us about their preferences and interests, the better. We can tailor tours towards your interests - for example a family traveling to Europe and the teenage boys are musicians and really into music. In London, we’ve created a tour of London that incorporates rock-themed sites, including 94 Baker Street where John Lennon and George Harrison had a boutique clothing shop, Paul McCartney’s house, Abbey Road’s Studios, Hendon Street, and more.
5) When it comes to logistics, we have your best interest at heart. Sometimes there are “cheaper” options but if we don’t mention them to you there is a reason and the price saved is truly not worth it.
6) We can make magic happen, but don’t ask us to beg to my reps for help when you need to make changes to the “advanced pay/no changes” reservation that you insisted we book. Most of the time clients don’t need to make changes to bookings once an itinerary is set. However, we never recommend or advertise an advanced/pre-pay rate to a client; it’s always that one time the client insists on a prepay rate that changes need to be made.
7) When we travel, it is always a working vacation - even on our personal, family vacations. Within each trip, we are doing research for our clients so that we can place them at the right resorts and we can be sure we are providing the correct information at all times. Most familiarization trips include anywhere from 5 to 15 hotel site visits and every activity and meal is documented so that we can pass on this knowledge to our clients. While our social media accounts may look like a permanent vacation, it is hard work. Travel consulting is a profession that requires ongoing training just like any other profession and these "vacations" are part of our training.
8) Please do not base your hotel choices on web reviews. You have no idea who that reviewer is, what their expectations are when it comes to a hotel stay and what "their perception" of great is. We choose hotels based on "your needs and expectations." Just because a vacation was great for someone else, doesn't mean the same vacation will be great for you. Getting to know and understand my clients' needs and wishes are my top priorities, so we can advise you on the best choices for "your" vacation.
9) You are leaving money on the table when you book hotels direct instead of with us. We can add value to your reservations with complimentary breakfast daily, possible upgrades, and a special amenity like a spa or food and beverage credit.
10) We provide more than just an airline ticket - we provide support before, during and after your trip. Did you know that we can help you coordinate your air travel providing the best logical routing, connecting times, baggage restrictions and also assist with canceled flights, missed connections and schedule changes?
11) We practice what we preach. We are very well-traveled, typically having been to dozens of countries and we share our first hand insights with clients. Chances are they have been where you are going!
12) Book as soon as you can. The cruise, tour or resort, dining reservations, shore excursions, etc. should be booked early. It'll get you the best pricing and selection for what you are looking for.
13) We work for you, we do not work for the travel supplier. I am your advocate and have no reason not to get you the best price possible.
14) Your travel agent is the expert. We will ask the right questions, listen to your answers and offer expert advice to guide you in making the right decision regarding how to spend your vacation time. We take a critical look at the moving parts of your trip to make sure that each component fits – like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
15) If time is money, think of us as asset managers. You can’t hit re-do on a vacation, and your time is your most precious asset. Let us take the stress out of planning - or if you like planning - let’s do it together.
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