Is using the services of a travel agent for everyone? No. Absolutely not. In fact, I get inquiries all the time where I’m more than happy to tell someone they would probably be better off not using my services.
At the end of the day, if what you value doesn’t line up with what I provide, we aren’t going to be a good fit. Here are 6 of the top categories where I think it makes sense to not contact me.
1. If you have traveled extensively and you enjoy the research and planning yourself
There are people out there that know far more than me about traveling, and have visited a destination enough to make them a mini expert. I would probably turn to them for advice. If that’s you, AND you like the research, planning, and booking of it all, then you certainly don’t need me. In fact, this would be the category I felt I was in before I decided this was going to be my career path.
Let’s add one thing to this though — IF you have the time. Because time is money, and I spend time doing this that I’m actually going to get paid for.
2. If the Top 10 things to do on TripAdvisor is sufficient
There is nothing wrong with the reviews on TripAdvisor, and in fact websites like this are always part of my research. But there are many ways that these websites fall short when I am planning customized vacation itineraries. So, if tailor-made is not your jam, these will give you all you need to know about what is popular in your destination of choice. Where services like mine differ is that I create itineraries based off of client’s interests, whether or not they fit a “top 10” mold.
3. If you’re only interested in how to get the cheapest price for everything
The race to the lowest cost is not one I am trying to win. If price is the first and pretty much only thing that matters to you, then you are probably looking at your travel agent to be some sort of Discount King. There is a place to find that online, as long as you realize that there are many factors that aren’t considered with a cost only approach.
I consider myself a creative, and the itineraries I design hopefully reflect that. But if there isn’t an appreciation for work being done that you would enjoy, as well as not be able to do yourself, then a relationship with a travel agent might not be best for you. Online is great for finding lowest cost (i.e. Groupon, Priceline, etc.) but my next point is something to keep in mind when you go that route.
4. If you don’t mind getting stuck with the worst hotel room available
One thing I don’t think a lot of travelers realize is that hotels know how you booked your room, and the type of room and level of service you receive might reflect that. When you book on Orbitz, Expedia, or through a Groupon for instance, a hotel will see what you paid for the room, and not consider you a loyal customer. Basically, you get what you pay for.
That dark, corner room that has a view of the dumpster? It’s not going to be given to a client I’m sending to a property, because there are relationships that exist in this industry that are valued on both sides. Furthermore, in anticipation to your arrival many travel agents, like myself, reach out to the property directly to ensure the details of your stay are as they should be.
5. If you hate free stuff
I’m kidding… kind of. I know you don't hate free stuff, but you might not realize that using a travel agent can help you gain added benefits or a little extra special attention. Is it always this way? No. But often we leverage our relationships and connections to the benefit of our clients. Why? Because we want you to feel special when you travel, and we will do our best to help you get that early check-in, or upgrade when possible.
6. If attention to detail and thoughtfulness isn’t that important to you
I treat my client’s travel as if it were my own. That means I am thinking of the little things that I know will make a difference, and paying attention to who they are so that I can highlight their unique likes and desires throughout their trip. You absolutely can enjoy travel without the added benefit of someone coming alongside you and caring about your trip, and this may not be something you feel makes your experience better.
But I believe this to be thevalue of working with a travel professional more than anything. I understand that not everyone will see it as such, and that’s ok. Working with a travel agent is not a one size fits all. Understand what you value, and take a good look at whether or not what I do helps get you there.
If you didn't find yourself on this list, feel free to contact me when it's time to plan your next vacation!