Warning you upfront, this post will be long & will offer my honest opinion. I would love to speak as a whole for the industry but what I write below only applies to me and how I operate as a travel professional.
This will be my 8th year in the travel industry & I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to be apart of the leading industry of job growth (Travel Industry Job Growth). My day to day is always different; some days are completely joyful & fulfilling then there are the “fighting fires” kind of days, but every job is like that, right?
A lot of times I find people, especially in my age demographic a.k.a. “Millennials” do not understand what a travel professional can offer them. I came up with the idea of this blog post after receiving Facebook messages multiple times a week responding to “Hey Heather, what kind of deal can I get for xyz?”. Can I be honest with you? This is actually the worst question I receive. The term “deal” is a travel consultant’s worst nightmare. A deal is so many different things to different people. I also don’t consider myself a deal hunter, how about a value hunter instead? I will find you the value in the vacation you’re purchasing, ensuring it’s the right trip for you. I’ll also find the value in your package meaning the best flight times for the best available price, the most suitable promotion on a room, complimentary upgrade, an on-board credit on your cruise, food & beverage credit at your favorite resort or the most important one…the value in knowing you can call me. I’m here for YOU. Isn’t that a value in itself?
Welcome amenities always make you feel right at home!
The reason I dislike the word agent so much is because it feels outdated & while by definition describes my role, maybe it’s just become “uncool”. Either way it reminds us of the days airlines still paid commission on a regular basis. I’m also not an order-taker or a reservation agent those titles sound very transaction like and straight forward. Professional, expert, adviser, consultant those are the words that better describe my role in your trip planning process. These new titles have introduced our industry to charging fees. For my time, my expertise and my huge list of contacts & go-to’s. The planning fee is $200. You can imagine the kind of calls & e-mails we get on a daily basis that if we (the agency I work for) didn’t charge a fee we’d be chasing pricing & people all the live long day & the folks who really need us wouldn’t be getting our full & well-deserved attention. In the end, it always comes back to you. How we’re trying to help you. It’s why I require appointments & won’t take walk-ins, don’t you want your travel adviser to be prepared to talk to you about your special getaway? I know I want that!
All that said this is what I want you to come away with…the best time to use a travel consultant is when you don’t want your hard-earned vacation time to be wasted.
Just an airline ticket or car rental? Book it online – I prefer directly on the provider’s website over one of the third party websites though!
In our office, we don’t work on commission & prefer it that way. We all work together. Anyone (there are only four of us) can answer your question, anyone can take your payment or a message…we are a TEAM! I am not an expert on all destinations or types of trips, but if someone in my office cannot do it, I guarantee I know a travel professional who can!
Boss Lady & I . 2011.
Let’s also answers some more common questions…
Can you get cheaper airfare than what I’ve found on kayak.com? No, we use Sabre, one of the airline GDS systems – I’m looking at the same thing you are online. Airfare is supply & demand.
Now if you’re looking for first or business internationally with more than a 4 month lead time I can probably get a slightly better fare!
Can you match cheapvacation.com,cheapotrip.com, etc? No. Like I mention above the value I give you is in my expertise – do you want to trust all those people you don’t know you & they say room 22 is terrible because of a hard bed…but turns out you like a hard bed – they are not matching a vacation for you. What’s the value of a bad vacation even if it was only $500?? *and those don’t exist, okay?* That means I’m going to use my trusted suppliers to reserve your entire package. The ones with a no walk policy if the hotel by chance is oversold. The ones who have inventory at those hotels and resorts. The ones that I know the President & if God forbid anything goes wrong you can be sure it’ll be fixed ASAP.
I hope this at least gave you a better understanding of my role. I thoroughly enjoy helping you have the best trip possible!
If you have any questions about the industry or my job I’d be happy to answer via the comments below or e-mail. My goal is to use this blog as a reference for clients & friends on some frequently asked questions. Would you be interested in me highlighting some of those companies we like to work with?