Ready, Set, Go!
1. Have your list ready.
Come Christmas Eve, everyone has their “Wish List” ready for Santa. “Black Friday Eve” and “Cyber Week” are no different! Have your travel list ready for your travel advisor, as they will be “Santa-esqe” and checking it twice! Travel agents and Santa work closely together as they are both in the wish-granting business!
2. Use a travel agent who advises (aka, the Travel Advisor), and not just an “order-taker.”
You read that correctly. Don’t go at travel alone. With Covid-19, the world has changed. The travel industry has changed, and the protocols have changed. Unfortunately, they are still changing and that fluidity may be the “new normal.” I remember when I worked at a major airline carrier earlier this year, the amount of people that showed up at the counter with packed suitcases, airline tickets, and even resort or hotel reservations, yet they didn’t have the proper paperwork to travel. They weren’t too happy when we had to deny boarding. If the airlines are bringing on travel advisors to help at their customer service counters, shouldn’t you partner with one as well? Travel advisors are essentially travel brokers who work for you. This means they shop, and research for you because they represent you. Enjoy time with the family while your agent is doing what they do best; finding and securing the best reservation for you and yours. “I am excited to spend my holiday on the internet doing research,” said no one ever! Luckily travel agents commit to a life of being on call and the holidays are some of those busiest times!
3. Use a travel agent who is well connected.
Being a business owner is great, but post Covid travel doesn’t mean anyone can live in a bubble anymore. Find a travel agent who is well connected to a network who can check with their peers for additional reviews of airlines, hotels, resorts, and cruise lines. No one has been everywhere or experienced every brand, but the larger the network, the more likely someone in network has been “boots on the ground”. Most travel agents do not charge for their services, so use an agent that can work for you most efficiently. You can get the most bang for your buck, without actually paying the buck!
4. Use a travel agent who belongs to a consortia.
What is a consortia you ask? A consortia is a co-op of agencies that due to their size, can negotiate travel deals for their collective clientele through their buying power. Some examples are American Express, Signature, Virtuoso, etc. Be a savvy shopper and ask your agent to which they belong. Using a travel agent who belongs to a consortia can help you rack up big on the amenities for your vacation. I have a client that is traveling next week that booked during Cyber Week last year and got an additional $1K resort credit on her booking due to our consortia affiliation!
5. Have your rewards / loyalty numbers ready for your travel agent.
When booking your travel, your agent will need your loyalty numbers to check for any additional offers for your cruise lines, airlines, and hotels/ resorts, so have them handy.
6. Be flexible and consider inventory.
I often hear the same sentiment, “What do you mean there is no availability?” When demand is high, supply can get low. Remember, all of those folks that couldn’t or didn’t travel in 2020, and 2021 are rebooking for 2022 and 2023+! Your agent can sometimes find you an even better deal than either of you were expecting, so long as you have some flexibility!
7. Budget for full coverage travel insurance.
Remember, insurance is not for what you think won’t happen, it’s for what you don’t know, will! Just as you budget tipping the waiter at a restaurant for dinner, so should you budget travel insurance when booking a vacation. Protecting an investment is always money well spent.
8. Be able to communicate the vibe you want to experience on your vacation.
Are you looking to experience history, adventure, romance? To ensure your agent is able to capture your expected vacation travel vibe, be ready to communicate your experience expectations and how you want to “feel” while you are away! No two vacation experiences are alike, so communication is key to ensure your vibe comes to fruition! Lack of communication can actually be a budget buster!
9. After your due diligence is out of the way, trust your advisor.
It’s been said that travel advisors are travel “matchmakers.” Not every brand is the same, even if they travel to the same destination. Therefore, it is not always wise to let price be the deciding factor, surprise! For example, in the River Cruise business, some of the big players are AmaWaterways, Uniworld, Viking, and Avalon. Do you know how they are different? Your agent does and not all comparisons are “apples to apples.” Some big players in Ocean Cruises are Virgin, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland, Disney and Azamara, yet they vary more than the average guest could imagine in experience. Ask your agent why! Most everything is fun and fab in travel, but not necessarily the best fit for each client. All-Inclusives vary in the inclusions so best to discuss with the brainiac agent!
However, before you decide which agent to work with, get referrals and scope out your agent’s website. Is it up to date? Are there current Black Friday and Cyber Week offers? Do they post their social media in regard to travel regularly?
10. Contact me! While I am a local travel writer and travel blogger, I am also the owner of a local Cruise Planners Travel franchise! At Cruise Planners, we specialize in both land and sea travel and are affiliated with the American Express Consortia. My services are complimentary to you and I would love to help make those holiday wishes come true! Contact me today at 205-873-8621 call or text (preferred for initial contact) and email at email@example.com.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays to you and yours!