Busy families love travel and want to have experiences together. It’s a big world and they want to see it with their kids. The time that it takes to create a fabulous itinerary and make all the arrangements often deter busy families from planning big vacations. Don’t let the intensive planning time stop you from having those family memories that will last a lifetime. This is why busy families use a travel advisor. An advisor can eliminate the research time, clarify the best destinations, and offer itinerary expertise so that you can show up and enjoy your time away from your busy life.
What is a Travel Advisor?
A travel advisor is another name for a travel agent. There are all types of travel advisors who work in a variety of ways. Most, however, would describe themselves as a personal travel advisor. They work with you as a personal travel advisor, customizing each trip to your tastes, budgets, and needs. As you search for the best travel advisor, look for one you connect with and can meet the goals you have for your next vacation. A certified travel agent is one that has received training and has progressed through a program and achieved a level of standards to serve clients comprehensively.
Some travel advisors specialize as a family travel advisor, which is an added level of complexity. Others focus on specific destinations and market themselves such as a Costa Rica travel advisor, while others niche down to honeymoon trips or baby moon trips. Most work as an independent travel advisor and have a variety of planning expertise.
What Do Travel Agents Do?
In a nutshell, travel advisors put in the research hours for your desired destination. Most families have parent working households with busy schedules. Only you can assess if using a travel agent is worthwhile. Families who love to travel often lead full daily lives with little margin for the time that planning a vacation takes.
There are two typical options that a travel advisor can offer to you as a client. The first is to research and book the desired hotels or villa rentals for your vacation. This alone cuts down on your planning time as the lodging options are endless and it can take hours to sift through photos, reviews, and amenities. A travel advisor spends his/her day learning about properties all over the world and aims to find the best fit for you.
The second option most travel advisors offer is a comprehensive trip/itinerary plan. This includes hotels, villas, transportation, transfers, tours, meal reservations, show tickets and more. A good travel advisor can make a curated vacation plan that gets you from starting point to ending point with as many details as you prefer.
How Does a Travel Agent Work?
Each independent travel advisor has his/her own process. Many begin by serving friends and family to gain experience and grow a book of business. You can expect to receive an in-take form that gears questions towards your preferences, needs, and expectations. The more information an advisor has to work with, the better the communication is, which ultimately leads to the best trip for you and your family. One of the hardest things to pin down is a budget, but it is essential to have an overall budget or per/night budget for hotels in mind so the advisor knows the type of trip you are looking for.
Some travel advisors give several options of lodging, but others may start with one and work from there. Communicate if you would like to see 2 or 3 options. If you have specific tours in mind, don’t hesitate to mention them. It’s also really helpful to hear how you want the cadence of your trip to be. No two trips will be the same. Your personal travel advisor will likely keep communication via email with written records of discussions so there is little confusion.
Why Use a Travel Agent Instead of Booking Online?
Busy families often consider booking online to save time, but in reality there are so many options and so many listings to sift through that you can get sucked down the rabbit hole quickly. Online booking systems use an algorithm that boosts paid ad listings and pushes those to the top even when you use filters. Reviews are difficult to assess and work through. Rate options and room categories are confusing through an online booking system, so as a client you don’t really know what you’re getting. Beware of accidentally booking a non-refundable rate just because it is cheaper!
These challenges are among the many reasons to use a travel agent. Looking for a travel agent can seem overwhelming also, but word of mouth and references are a great way to start. This will give you the satisfaction and confidence because someone you know trusts the advisor.
How Does a Travel Agent Get Paid?
When you book with a travel agent, your advisor will get paid on the back-end through the hotel commission programs. Keep in mind that your travel advisor will book the Best Available Rate, which may not be the cheapest rate, but will allow changes or cancellations. this is in your best interest. Remember that your advisor is working on your behalf to give you the best travel experience possible.
If you choose to utilize your travel advisor to plan a comprehensive itinerary, you should expect him/her to charge a planning fee. Independent travel agents have the flexibility to structure planning fees to their liking. Expect either a flat fee, hourly rate, or per diem fee. The best travel agent will be transparent with all of this.
An important note regarding airline reservations. Many personal travel advisors do not book airline reservations. Airlines offer no support to travel advisors, making it difficult to provide a service to you as a client when in need. There are many nuances to airline travel and the industry as a whole has made the rebooking and change process debilitating for advisors. Your advisor can help you research to find the best positioning flights for you, however.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Travel Agent
The advantages of a travel agent can be such a fun part of the experience. Busy families use a travel advisor to save time. When you pay a planning fee, you are paying for the advisor’s labor time. He/she will use resources to find the perfect hotel, to call providers for an excellent tour, email contacts for recommendations, and more. Using a travel advisor also allows you to tap into the travel expertise they have. He/she will able to tell you why you should go somewhere and also why you should not do something as an expert opinion.
Advisors also participate in consortiums and partnerships that provide extras for their clients. These are often referred to as perks and can include things like free breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, feature amenities, welcome treats, and more. You may see these advisors listed as a Virtuoso travel advisor (a specific program), or just as a general luxury travel advisor. Don’t be overly swayed or deterred with those titles. Remember you are looking for a good fit for you and your busy family, someone you can work with to develop the best travel plan.
Is a Travel Agent Worth It?
When you ask yourself, “do I need a travel agent?” consider the time and knowledge you have on your own. When you hire a travel advisor it doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of planning a great vacation, it just means you need to delegate and hire out this task. Some vacations become complex with multi-destination itineraries, different room bookings, transfer needs, and excursions. There are a lot of details to handle! Use a travel advisor professional to arrange the next family memory maker.