Here are some of the most common questions I get when it comes to my travel planning services, please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any additional questions or if you’re ready to start planning your next getaway!
Q: What is a Travel Advisor? Is that the same thing as a Travel Agent?
A: Yes and no 🙂 Essentially I am a travel agent in the sense that I provide travel planning services (booking flights, hotels, guides, etc), but different from a “travel agent” because I take a consultative approach (rather than a transactional approach) to the trips that I plan. While I can book just flights or hotels, where I add the most value to my clients is when planning an entire trip, from the flights, to accommodations, transportation, restaurant recommendations, vetted guides and activities, etc–especially when focusing on high end travel. The agency I’m affiliated with has an extensive network of premiere travel partners globally, and I’m able to leverage those relationships to create experiences that would be difficult or time intensive to find on your own.
Q: In a world of 1000 online resources, what benefits does a Travel Advisor offer?
A: A Travel Advisor can help with the following:
- Quickly help narrow down hotel and destination options specifically based on your wishes, saving you time, stress, and 100s of useless online reviews
- Can get you the best pricing (even when comparing with online travel sites) and promos not available to all on the web
- Can VIP you at no extra cost, so you get VIP perks worth hundreds of dollars that you wouldn’t get when booking the best available rate on your own
- Can help you secure insider intel and tips for your destination
- Can help organize all sightseeing & activities with trusted (and vetted) guides
- provide access to unique activities or experiences that would be incredibly difficult or impossible to secure on one’s own
- stay up to date with all the post-covid entry protocols and restrictions
- work as your advocate when dealing with flight and booking cancellations so you don’t have to sit on hold for hours
Q: Do you have trip minimums or require a certain budget for a trip?
A: The short answer is no, however my specialty and where I provide the most value is when booking 5 star hotels or focus on luxury trips/experiences. The budget when only booking a weekend stay at a 5 star hotel is very different than when planning a two week European vacation with luxury accommodations, transfers, guided tours/activities, etc. Before embarking on any travel planning for you I will have a conversation with you regarding the budget for the trip to make sure I’m the best fit for your needs and to understand expectations.
Q: What’s the difference between working with you and AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts?
Q: I have status with Marriott/Bonvoy. Is there any benefit in booking through you?
A: Absolutely! When booking your stay at any Bonvoy property, I will make sure to include your Bonvoy number so you get points and so that your status comes through. Regardless, I have a personal contact at the hotels that I reach out to to flag your reservation and let them know about your upcoming stay. In addition to your status/benefits, I’m able to include additional value/benefits in the way of upgrades, complimentary breakfast, hotel credits, and more for hotels that participate in the STARS (The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Bvlgari, Edition) or Luminous (W, JW Marriott, Autograph Collections, some Westins,) Programs.
Q: What type of clients do you work with?
A: I work with all sorts of clients (couples, families, social groups/organizations, etc). I typically prefer to work with clients who understand the services I offer and value my time, expertise, relationships, and support, and realize that planning an amazing vacation takes a lot of patience and time/resources, which they may not have.
I prefer to work with clients who want to focus on value rather than cost, although I’m often able to save my clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but my expertise is not on low budget trips. I will do my best to provide you with the best options given the budget that you give me. Where I can provide tremendous value is with 5-star hotels, planning complicated itineraries with multiple stops, planning complex airline routings, trips using guides/drivers or local experts, trips to a destination where you do not already know all the best places to eat and best things to see and do, or any specific interest travel, from safaris to ancient ruins.
Q: What is the cost when using a Travel Advisor?
A: This will vary depending on the complexity of the trip, but essentially it’s comprised of a travel planning fee plus ticketing fees if I’m booking airfare for you. After reviewing your initial needs, I will determine the extent of your travel needs and discuss the investment to you to retain my services. This document will outline possible destinations, timelines, and budget, as discussed. I strive to offer transparent pricing and to demonstrate a value that is hard to beat.
I like taking a consultative approach to trip planning so we cover exactly what YOU want, and all fees/prices are discussed up front before anything is booked and ok’d by you. If you want to book your own flights and hotels using points (or Air Bnb/VRBO) but want me to help flush out the itinerary and help with activities, transportation, sightseeing, and restaurant recommendations, that can also be covered by the planning fee. Oftentimes I’m able to save clients money on hotel bookings when I’m able to include complimentary breakfast, upgrades, and credits (sometimes airport transfers too). I often times have access to special promotions that cannot be found on the web, such as 3rd, 4th, or 5th night free, special packages, and more.
When it comes to booking flights, we charge a $45 ticketing fee which allows us to monitor the flights booked for any changes that could include schedule changes, delays, or cancellations. We will advocate on your behalf and proactively book you or reroute you to try to minimize any disruptions in your travel. We will also quote the best price for the most direct route.
Q: Why do you charge a planning fee?
A: Like with most professional services (CPAs, Attorneys, Financial Advisors, Architects) the up-front planning fee covers my time, expertise, resources, and relationships to tailor the trip specifically to your tastes and budget.
Since the onset of Covid-19 in March of 2020, travel planning has become more complicated as I navigate travel restrictions, entry protocols, border closures and reopenings, and potential cancellations and rescheduling for my clients–an invaluable benefit that is covered within the services offered via the planning fee.
Receiving a planning fee also lets me know that the client is serious about the trip they’re requesting, and it allows me to give them priority over other requests that have not yet been confirmed.
Q: How are you paid? Is there a fee, commission?
A: I am compensated a few ways:
- travel planning fee
- commissions paid by hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, guides, etc. These are already built into the published rates that you view online. When you book something online and a travel advisor is not involved, the hotel/cruise line/tour operator will end up pocketing the commission that would have been paid to the travel advisor.
- ticketing fees for airfare, and occasional commissions for some flight segments (like overseas first class and business class flights)
Q: Do you work on trips of all kinds/lengths? Like a local weekend getaway for 2 as well as a blow out group event?
A: Yep! I do it all. Here are some examples of the trips I am able to book:
- Special sporting events: professional golf tournaments (Masters, PGA Championship, etc), tennis tournaments (French Open, Wimbledon, etc), horse races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, etc), Super Bowl, Grand Prix, Olympics, World Cup, etc.
- Family reunions/multi-gen trips for various family members
- Getting group blocks for social events like weddings
- Bachelor/Bachelorette parties (booking flights, accommodations, activities, etc.)
- Villa/Home/Apartment rentals via trusted partners with homes that have been vetted and are high quality
- Booking luxury cruises, ocean cruises, river cruises, canal barges, etc. including private charters/buyouts
- Chartering yachts and private planes
- Organizing corporate retreats/corporate incentive trips
- Honeymoons, anniversary trips, babymoons, special occasion trips
- Disney vacation packages, tickets, cruises, escorted trips
- African Safaris
- Train journeys such as Venice-Simplon Orient Express, Rocky Mountaineer, Belmond Andean Explorer, etc.
- Weekend getaways
Q: How does payment work? Is it a percentage of total amount spent on trip or is it a flat fee:
A: For the trip planning fee it’s a flat fee discussed up front when we talk about your trip needs/wishes and is based on the complexity of the trip. Travel planning fees are due up front prior to building an itinerary and providing a proposal.
When it comes to payment for travel, I prefer to take your payment information (such as a credit card) and apply it directly with the travel partner, rather than charging you then sending payment to the travel partner. If possible, I will always try to break everything down so you know exactly what you are paying for, however when it comes to packaged trips (accommodations + transportation + guided activities etc) some of my travel partners may not be able to offer a breakdown of prices due to contractual obligations with some of their suppliers. For hotel only bookings, most of my hotel partners will require a credit card to guarantee the reservation, and occasionally require a deposit or prepayment, depending on the hotel and whether we’re booking a special promotional rate. For travel packages that include transfers, accommodations, guided activities, etc, usually we take a deposit up front to secure the trip and confirm accommodations and drivers/guides, then the final balance is due typically 30-45 days prior to the commencement of the trip.
Q: Can you help plan trips for people who require wheelchair accessibility/special needs?
A: Absolutely. I am able to get my clients booked into accessible rooms and can notify staff of any special needs or requests, and can help hire people to take care of any needs while on the trip.
Here are some additional articles that talk about the benefits of using a travel advisor when booking travel:
5 Big Benefits To Working With A Travel Advisor | Virtuoso
Millenials Are Relying On Travel Agents in Record Numbers | Travel and Leisure
Forbes Why You Need a Travel Agent, Part 1 } Forbes
How Travel Agencies Avoided Extinction And Became A Luxury Service | Vox
How A Travel Agent Works | Huff Post Life
In Travel, You Get What You Pay For | Travel Weekly