Now Resorts & Spas love travel agents! Today is Travel Agent Awareness Day and to celebrate, we have a fun Q & A to share from our friends and experts: Leila Coe and Jacob Marek!
Leila and Jacob are Co-Organizers of the Travel Agent Awareness Campaign, an effort by the travel industry to prove the value of using a skilled travel professional. Leila is a Professional Vacation Specialist at Go Your Own Way Travel. Jacob has a travel marketing company, 45 Degrees Marketing, providing marketing services for modern travel businesses.
Check out their tips and tricks below!
1. Leila, saving money is a huge reason you and I both recommend using a travel agent. Can you offer some clarification on how a family of four, for example, might be able to save money with a travel agent?
I like to look at this question from a different angle – instead of listing ways we can help our client save money, I’d like to look at it as how we can save them from losing money.
A good travel agent will ask their clients a lot of questions – we call this ‘qualifying the client’. We may ask about their interests and hobbies, about their past travel experiences, or what they are expecting and wanting from the trip that they are planning. We may ask how flexible their dates are (to take advantage of low-season discounts or better airfares) or what type of accommodations they typically prefer. We then use this information to narrow down the options to the choices best suited for that individual client, based on their answers and feedback. Good travel agents use intellect, personal experience and knowledge when putting together quotes for clients; we don’t just try to sell what is the cheapest – but what is best for the client. After all, we want to establish long-lasting relationships with each client and our reputation is heavily invested in their vacation experience!
2. When a family has special needs, like a food allergy or physical disabilities, what kinds of questions should they ask their travel professional and how can a travel agent help?
One of my first qualifying questions is to ask if there are any special needs or requests that I should be aware of so that I can take into account any concerns or requirements that they have before we delve into details.
If they have a food allergy, such as a gluten intolerance, they should ask their travel agent for recommendations on allergy-aware companies including resorts, cruise lines and tour operators. Most of the time, we know right away who caters best for those with food allergies. And more importantly: which do not! For those with a physical disability requiring a wheelchair, they should ask about pool chair lifts, beach ramps, wheelchair-friendly rooms, etc. Resorts in other countries don’t necessarily have to abide by the ADA laws that we have in the U.S. Some choose to do so for the comfort of their guests, but again, some don’t. It is important to note that a good travel agent is an advocate for their clients and will do their best to match up their clients with the best options based on their individual needs and preferences. We will do any necessary research on their behalf to make sure the vacation is worry-free in all aspects.
3. You mentioned organization as one of your favorite reasons to recommend a travel professional. Why is this so important?
There are several key areas where organization is a “must”. This involves paying close attention to details, which most good travel agents excel at. Here are some specifics on ways we keep things organized:
- We can help you get the required entry documents in order – such as a valid passport and in some instances, visas or proof of vaccinations. You won’t get very far if you don’t have the paperwork ready!
- When planning an itinerary, we will put things in order that make the most “sense” – i.e. we look into the logistics such as how long it takes to get from point A to B, or, if you arrive late at night we know that you most likely won’t want to get up at 6 AM the next morning to go snorkeling. These small details can make or break a vacation! Some trips are more complicated than others, and the more complicated – the better reason to use a travel agent!
- I provide clients with a folder with all required vacation paperwork (vouchers, confirmations, tickets, etc. – everything but your passports!). I also include a detailed itinerary with everything on it – flights, accommodations, sightseeing, etc. as well as emergency contact information to leave with your family, destination info, travel tips, etc. I do this so my clients can relax and not worry if they printed everything they need – they get one folder with everything in it, and I’m often told it is the best part of using my services!
Thanks to Leila and Jacob for sharing these great insights with us!