I’ve never worked with a travel agency, what is the process? How do I get started?

Whether you’ve never used a travel agent before or maybe didn’t have an ideal experience in the past, if you’ve wondered how a trip could be elevated from ordinary to exceptional, 

Everything you receive by working with a professional travel agent is covered during a consultation call, but as an overview to what you will receive for every custom trip:

PROCESS:

  • Consultation – We’ll discuss your past travels, what you like to do in your free time, your favorite foods and other details that will give me insight into what is unique about you and how you like to travel. 
  • Research and Partnership – We’ll begin researching to find the best options that match you through partnering with trusted and vetted suppliers that are on location and current with that destination. Even with over 70 countries and all 7 continents traveled, we rely on partnerships to make sure you’re getting the most accurate information. 
  • Itinerary Proposal – We’ll review itinerary that includes everything we discussed in the initial consultation for your review and we can continue to fine tune all components and book the trip once everything looks perfect. 
  • Trip Preparation and Support – We’ll be available to help you prepare – whether it is with packing lists or the customs process, I’m here to answer any questions. 
  • Point of Contact during Travel – You’ll always have professional assistance to give you peace of mind

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:

  1. Time Savings 
  2. Convenience
  3. Added Value
  4. Professional Advice
  5. Personalized Service
  6. Unbiased Recommendations 
  7. Customer Advocacy

Why should I use a travel agent when I can book with Expedia or Costco?

We can offer many services and conveniences not found on a search engine site or big box retailer – everything from saving you hours of research, ensuring you are traveling with a reputable company or to resort that has been vetted for quality, plus handling any unexpected surprises that could potentially derail your vacation plans, such as unexpected illness, extreme weather, or a lost job. 

But that really is too simple of an answer.  There is so much more to how we develop relationships with our clients – that human touch that sets me apart from Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity or a random phone representative at Costco.   Instead of waiting in 8 hour phone queues, why not reach out your personal travel advisor that is ready to help you.

A few reasons why you may want to consider working with a travel advisor versus a 1-800 number:

  • You Value Customer Service
  • You Don’t Enjoy/Have Time to Research 
  • You Have a Complex Vacation with Multiple Cities or Stops
  • You Want Advice From Someone Who’s Been There
  • You Prefer a Payment Plan
  • You’re Traveling With a Group
  • You Have Special Needs or Requests
  • You’re Celebrating a Special Occasion
  • It’s Your First Trip Outside of the Country

How do you get paid?

Travel agents typically are paid on commission by hotels, cruise lines, excursion companies and resorts, but as we create custom trips, oftentimes we will provide clients with experiences with companies that don’t necessarily have a commission partnership with agents.  We would rather see you take part in the experience of a lifetime than limit what we can design into your itinerary. 

Since we may be creating your custom trip that doesn’t include commission or may be incredibly complex, charging a Trip Design & Travel Management Fee is something we do anytime we begin designing a trip. Putting together an itinerary, particularly one involving a complicated trip, like a safari, or booking a large group trip or family vacation, is the full time job that most travelers do not want to take on during their free time. 

Charging a fee is a bit of insurance for all of the time and effort we put into creating an itinerary in the event that a client ends up deciding to not travel or needs to cancel.  Agents are only paid when a traveler completes their trip. 

Why should I pay your Trip Design and Travel Management Fee? What does that get me?

Every trip we plan is completely customized and tailored to you because each of our clients are special and all trips have a different vision and goal.  Although custom travel won’t look the same for each reservation, this is what you can expect with every booking so we may provide the best client experience pre, during, and post travel:

    • Consultation – We’ll discuss your past travels, what you like to do in your free time, your favorite foods and other details that will give me insight into what is unique about you and how you like to travel. 
    • Research and Partnership – We’ll begin researching to find the best options that match you through partnering with trusted and vetted suppliers that are on location and current with that destination. Even with over 70 countries and all 7 continents traveled, we rely on partnerships to make sure you’re getting the most accurate information. 
    • Itinerary Proposal – We’ll review itinerary that includes everything we discussed in the initial consultation for your review and we can continue to fine tune all components and book the trip once everything looks perfect. 
    • Trip Preparation and Support – We’ll be available to help you prepare – whether it is with packing lists or the customs process, I’m here to answer any questions. 
    • Point of Contact during Travel – You’ll always have professional assistance to give you peace of mind.

As you can see our services go beyond just booking and sending you on your way, the VIP level of service from the point of consultation through travel is what sets us apart and the Trip Design & Travel Management fee is what allows us to dedicate that much time to you.

I’ll answer your questions in a timely manner, give you honest advice and information, and personalize everything from start to finish.  It’s an entirely different experience working with my agency, and according to many clients, worth the fee, everytime.

Can we make changes to the proposal created for our trip? How about changes after we have booked or are in-destination?

Once we have agreed on the general parameters of your trip during a consultation call, the first proposal is created. That initial proposal is not the final itinerary, just a starting point with flexibility to make tweaks and changes until it matches what you envision. 

Once all of your travel arrangements have been confirmed, it is not always possible to alter specific aspects of the vacation, subject to availability.  In some cases, there will be an Amendment Fee of $100, that will apply to each accommodation, activity, or transportation reservation that is altered after the itinerary has been confirmed and deposit has been placed. In some cases, after deposit, the itinerary cannot be modified. 

Should you wish to alter your travel arrangements in any way after arriving in the destination, we will do our best to accommodate you, based on availability. Any ‘In-Destination’ changes that are made will be subject to an Amendment Fee of $300.00 for each individual reservation that is altered while traveling. 

How are payments and cancellations handled when one person cancels on the trip and the other still wants to travel?

Each traveler must read and sign the same terms and conditions, agreeing upon all details of a reservation before finalizing a booking. Payments cannot be split and will need to be arranged prior to any required deposit is made. Our agency is not responsible for any fees and/ or penalties incurred if any traveler cancels and/or changes their reservation. 

Changes and/or cancellations by one guest will cancel the entire booking and the remaining travelers on the reservation will have the option to rebook based on availability and prevailing rates. Travelers assume the risk of no availability or increased price due to any changes or cancellations that are made. 

Can you break out each individual trip cost?

Your custom vacation package comes as a single trip cost and you will be invoiced for the entire trip package, inclusive of all trip components we have agreed upon. 

Agreements with our travel suppliers and vendors are often confidential and do not permit us to provide pricing for each travel component separately. This is due to confidential negotiation of pricing that they are able to extend to us. Costing segments of your journey separately voids the total price of the itinerary presented to you. 

Can you help me book travel using airlines miles or hotel points?

Reward Program Points/Miles such as ie. Marriott Rewards, AAdvantage Miles, Hilton Honors, etc. are personal accounts of point and can only be utilized by the owner of that points account. 

Note: If trip components are booked using miles and points and coordinated in conjunction with services not booked and provided by our agency (e.g., lodging, air travel, etc.) we cannot be held responsible for these suppliers’ rates, bookings, and operations or for their actions that may cause any loss or damage to you during your vacation. We will not be able to support, rebook, or assist with managing any portion of travel that may be interrupted, delayed, or cancelled that was booked personally by the traveler.

Can you book AirBnB or VRBO, type properties?

To provide the most seamless experience during your vacation, we are not able to book AirBnB, VRBO, Turnkey, hostels and non-approved accommodations through our agency. The quality of the property and the amenities being offered cannot be vetted for accuracy. These types of properties can cancel without notice, plus transfer and tour companies may not pick up in residential neighborhoods. Our agency works with preferred partners and we book strictly within our approved network, not any property that can be found online. 

How are payments and cancellations handled when one person cancels on the trip and the other still wants to travel?

Each traveler must read and sign the same terms and conditions, agreeing upon all details of a reservation before finalizing a booking. Payments cannot be split and will need to be arranged prior to any required deposit is made. Our agency is not responsible for any fees and/ or penalties incurred if any traveler cancels and/or changes their reservation. 

Changes and/or cancellations by one guest will cancel the entire booking and the remaining travelers on the reservation will have the option to rebook based on availability and prevailing rates. Travelers assume the risk of no availability or increased price due to any changes or cancellations that are made. 

How much should I budget?

This is a difficult question to answer because just like a custom home, a custom trip doesn’t just have the same price for every client.

Number of days, number of travelers, time of year, cities, countries, you name it, all will play a role in the cost of your trip. 

I highly recommend starting with a quick Google Flight search to the destination you want to go and the time of year.  If the cost of the flight will impact the budget you can set aside for the remainder of the trip, I highly recommend waiting and saving to get the trip you envision. 

For our best tailored, custom trips that will match those photos you’ve seen online or fulfill the pampered amenities that anyone would want away from home, the recommended budget per person is in the mid to high 4 figure range.  For the more complex, luxurious, or unique trips, these begin in the 5 figure range, per person. 

What if we need to cancel our trip?

Cancellation costs vary by supplier resort and airline. Due to the customized nature of your vacation, trip insurance is highly recommended in the event you need to cancel or postpone your trip.

The cancellation policy and fee schedule will be provided to every client. Accepting and depositing on a trip confirms your understanding of the cancellation and fee policies.

Do you recommend travel insurance?

Travel insurance for all trips is highly recommended. We are legally required to offer it to you with every booking. Travel insurance covers not only travel related costs, but also medical needs that are typically not covered by domestic medical plans.  Do note that purchasing travel insurance does not guarantee reimbursement until a claim has been submitted and approved by the insurance company. 

All specific questions pertaining to reimbursement and coverage are addressed directly with the insurance company and their licensed insurance agents. 

What brands do you focus on for your clients? Can you book something I found online?

Although we have preferred properties, brands, and companies that we have chosen to partner with based on their track record of exceptional service, amenities, and experience, every trip is tailored to each client individually. Therefore, a portfolio of options we have personally vetted is used to curate the perfect trip for you.

Unfortunately, there are some companies online that are not vetted partners, insured, or work with travel agents, so we cannot always book what you find online. That is why we work with our network of trusted partners to ensure you are taken care of every step of the way.

What kind of special certifications do you have?

Our agency engages in continuous education year round to stay current within the travel industry.  With an extensive list of destination and brand certifications, as well as  attending industry conferences, tourism board and destination travel trips, educational webinars, and online training programs we are able toprovide our clients with the most accurate information. 

Continuous education is one of the contributing factors that sets us apart as this provides us with information that can’t always be “googled” and we can share this with you. 

Please check out the list of all of our certifications, destinations traveled and media features at the bottom of the About page. 

What is the best way for us to communicate?

During the planning process, email communication is best because it allows us to keep track of anything that is discussed.  In addition, since we are typically on the phone with airlines, travel suppliers, and other scheduled calls, emails will always be answered the fastest. 

While you are traveling, our agency is available to you as much as possible, but as time zones may make it difficult to answer immediately, you will often have local partners available to help with any issues that may arise. 

We are admittedly difficult to reach via phone without a prior agreed-upon time. It is the current nature of the travel industry. I spend at least 50% of every day on the phone solving problems, stuck on long hold times, rescuing stranded passengers – the same level of service we would provide to you if you had any issues during travel. 

I rely heavily on email because I can send out a message while on hold, not to mention I consider this the courteous method of communication if my tasks and communication prevent me from getting back to someone during normal business hours. 

Can you help me find a “deal”? Will it cost less to book with you than online?

The value my agency brings to clients has nothing to do with money because we aren’t order takers – we go well beyond just booking.

Our agency might save a client money, depending on specials and promotions being offered at a particular time, but where we save clients money everyday is in the mantra “time is money.”

Most people can google and book a vacation on their own that will cost less. If you aren’t a travel agent, you can’t book what you don’t know exists and since we do this everyday, we know about so much more that is available than the average traveler and typically we know of something that is going to be a better match for you. People might also choose a less expensive hotel or room category because they don’t understand the value that comes with paying more that has extra benefits and amenities.

Our travel agency aims to get clients the most value and save time, which does equal to a huge cost savings.  Clients pay our fee for our time, our expertise, our relationships with suppliers, and for all of the additional value we provide through our travel expertise – most 1-800 numbers or agents a person may chat with online may never have traveled outside of their hometown.

Beyond the research, the itinerary proposals, reserving all components and preparing the client to travel, what if the client wants to make a change at some point? Or they have questions they want me to answer as we lead up to a trip? Who is paying for the time to make that change? Or the time to answer those questions?

Without a fee, we are being asked to work for free and I am sure you wouldn’t work for free if asked as well.

I still have more questions, how can we connect?

I’m so glad you asked! The first step is always a free, no-pressure consultation call. There is no obligation to work with my agency and no fees will be collected for this conversation.

During this call, I can answer any questions you might have about my travel planning process and how it can enhance your next trip.  Click here to fill out an inquiry form and we’ll set up a call from there!

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