The Dos and Don'ts of Working with a Travel Advisor
Authentic Vacation Designs by Syndi
The internet and travel supplier call centers have made DIY travel very commonplace, but if you're reading this article, chances are you've already had an inkling that there's a better way to travel, especially in this complex and ever changing world we live in. Navigating through all of the border restrictions and quarantine requirements, and complex travel insurance, the world can feel like a very scary place and the fear of getting stuck while away can paralyze many.
Can we all agree that planning travel on the internet is ridiculously time consuming and just plain overwhelming? Now more than ever, using a Travel Advisor can bring immense value to the process, along with a sense of comfort that's somebody's got your back!But let's break it down ... what are the dos and don'ts of working with someone like me?
THE DOS ...
DO ask about Industry Affiliations and Accreditations
Let me be blunt: the company you keep matters in this business. Your Travel Advisor's industry affiliations should demonstrate their ethics, expertise and connections. Membership in the Association of Canadian Travel Agents (ACTA), a recognized consortium like Ensemble, Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC), accreditation by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) and IATA (International Air Transportation Association) are signs of professionalism and are advantageous to you, the traveler. It's also a fair question to ask whether the advisor you are considering is licensed and insured. Of course, I check all of those boxes.
DO check out reviews and testimonials
See what other travelers' experiences have been with the advisor you are considering. This is easy to do with just a bit of light online research.
DO schedule a free consultation call
Scheduling an initial call with your prospective Travel Advisor is an excellent first step. It is an opportunity to see if you are a good "fit", both for the type of travel you are envisioning and your personalities. Come prepared with a general idea about the kind of vacation you are looking for. Be ready to answer some questions about your likes, dislikes, and travel style. A good advisor wants to get to know you to tailor your experience, and also connect with you on a personal level. This should be an enjoyable, get-to-know-each-other conversation.
At the end of that first call, so many of my clients tell me that the stress they are feeling about their vacation planning has just melted away. Sometimes, you may find htat the Travel Advisor is not able to take on new clients or does not specialize in the type of travel you are looking for. That's OK too: they may still give you some great tipes or a referral.
DO give a ballpark budget
If you're not sure what your budget for a particular trip should be, that's OK. Just say so. On the other hand, if you have a ballpark budget, do share that with your advisor early on. Budget not a concern? Just say so ...
DO ask how the process works
As part of my initial complimentary call with a prospective client, I always talk about my process, planning fee, and timelines. Your Professional Travel Advisor should be able to clearly articulate the steps of their travel planning and booking process so you know what to expect. The great thing about having a smooth, established process is that the joyful anticipation of travel starts early, along with peace of mind.
THE DON'TS ...
DON'T wait until the last minute
Early travel planning equates to better availability of top properties, choice flights, and desirable itineraries. It's also less stressful to begin travel planning when the date is not looming right around the corner. My best advice is always reach out to me as early as possible ... for overseas, at least 3-6 months in advance.
DON'T balk at a planning fee, but feel free to ask about the benefits
Many Professional Travel Advisors, myself included, charge an upfront planning fee for their service. Much lke a fee-for-service financial advisor, a fee-for-service travel advisor should tell you those fees upfront and also explain the value, service and benefits to you as an informed client.
DON'T focus on "Deals"
When planning travel, it is important to distinguish between "deals" (I always put that term in quotation marks) and value. The traveling public is subjected to so many creative travel marketing campaigns and every-changing confusing promotions that it can be difficult to discern true value. Let's cut through all of that clutter. I know the inclusions or, conversely, additional charges that can add up to the total cost of your travel, and I also know how to recognize good value. Find a Travel Advisor whom you can trust, and who in turn respects your travel investment and understands the travel experience you are seeking.
DON'T be afraid to ask questions
Your Professional Travel Advisor is here to .. wait for it ... advise on travel. You should feel comfortable asking questions about the travel itself (What is the dress code for dinner? Is this typically a good season to travel to Italy? What is the countries entry requirements?) as well as about the planning or booking process. I'll be honest, I don't have the answer to every question, but I do know whom to reach out to when I don't (this again goes back to the importance of industry affiliations and relationships).
DON'T be nervous about scheduling a call
As a general rule, Travel Advisors don't bite, so don't be nervous about scheduling your first call. When you schedule a complimentary travel consultation call with me, it is a chance to have a low-stress, friendly, no obligation conversation about one of the best subjects around: travel. My initial free consultation call usually lasts about fifteen minutes (sometimes we talk a little longer). It usually consists of three parts: 1) we talk about you and your travel style, 2) we talk about the travel you have in mind, and 3) we talk about my service, process and planning package options. Of course, if you have any other questions about your travel or my service, feel free to ask away. I promise it is an easy conversation with no pressure whatsoever.