The reality of working with a Travel Advisor
Ever thought about working with an advisor? or maybe you've worked with one before and not had a great experience? or, hopefully, you've worked with one and had an amazing experience?
Working with with an advisor is outsourcing and not all our sourcing is created equal.
Every advisor has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to a multitude of factors;
experience in destinations
attention to detail
knowledge about hotels, suppliers, operators, airlines, visas, entry requirements, weather, what to pack, the list goes on...
Have you asked yourself what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to planning trips? Or maybe you are looking at this list and thinking... I'm great at communication, research, organization, attention to detail, etc. and that's GREAT! You probably don't need a travel advisor #sorry
We work best when we are given enough freedom and creativity to truly D E L I V E R what we are best at.
When you are outsourcing a task, you expect a certain value, idea, or vision to be fulfilled, right? I'd agree!
It's important to have a full understanding about what it looks like when working with an advisor so that we can manage expectations properly and set BOTH parties up for success... after all, you are outsourcing to a small business, which often times is only 1 person.
So, what do we do? It depends on the company, but here at Ellie's Travel Bug, this is what we offer under our standard scope of work:
Research and booking of accommodation, tours, and transportation
Assistance in research for international and regional flights
Assist in concierge related tasks such as spa and dining reservations
In country support, whether it be from myself or our trusted partners
Access to our knowledge bank of ideas on things to do, sites to see, restaurant lists, tipping guides, currency exchange, packing suggestions, visa requirements, travel insurance, etc.
Vouch for you when necessary
What do we NOT do?
Book the cheapest deal or advertise our "perks" as selling points
Hold your hand on your trip
Respond at any beckoning call at all hours of the day
Provide cost breakdowns on package itineraries
Our services are pretty comprehensive... we typically sell package itineraries when working with our trusted suppliers or we will book direct in some cases as well. That being said, it's important for you, as the client, to have a clear list of expectations for your travel designer.
Time frame, Dates, and Duration w/wo flexibility
Budget (and an ACTUAL budget... we don't include flights, food, or other personal expenses in our conversation with budget around here. This is the pain point for most people - be honest!)
Pace (ie. 1 activity a day or 1, 5-6 hour activity every other day)
Goal of the trip (ie. To try a plethora of new foods, experience the night life, and spend time with family)
Accommodation priorities (ie. mini fridge, plunge pool)
Communication preference (email, phone, text, etc.)
Being clear from day 1 about your details and priorities will keep the process moving efficiently. If you have a whole list of must-haves, share it. However, if you already have your google doc planned out with what you want to do, where you want to stay, and a whole list of saved items on trip advisor... why do you need us?
Remember, we are travel advisors - NOT booking agents.
This misconception is usually where people walk away unhappy - both advisor and client. When there are too many hands meddling in the pot, it gets messy.
So now that we've set clear expectations on what advisors do and what our ideal client looks like, is working with one right for you?
Like I said - not all out sourcing is created equal. If you want a complex itinerary to Europe with multiple destinations and moving parts, going to an agent that books 90% Disney and Cruises isn't the best fit and probably doesn't have the expertise or connections to give you what you're really looking for. Similarly, if you want an amazing trip to Disney and to stay at the best resort on property and take advantage of the amazing food scene... an agent that books 90% Europe also would not be the best fit.
Sift through their Instagram, website, google reviews, etc. Hope on a consult call with them to gage their interests and expertise. Remember, we can't be an expert in every destination - that's why we have partners and colleagues around the world to assist us. Your advisor doesn't have to be the most well travelled person on the planet, but they do need to be able to leverage their industry connections to assist your properly.
"Okay, but Ellie... my best friend's mom worked with an advisor and had a terrible experience."
First of all, I am sorry.
Second of all.. okay, Susan... did your best friend's mom walk into a brick & mortar 20 years ago? Did they hire a Caribbean Cruise specialist to book their trip to Japan? Did they do their research before hand on how to find the right fit? Did they provide enough information about their expectations? Did they understand the Scope of Work ? Did they communicate properly? Did they understand the nature of their destination?
Who knows! Just because your friend's mom didn't like Japan, doesn't mean you also won't like it!
Listen... I don't want to sit here and blame the client, but we are not in the type of service industry where we consider that our clients are right 100% of the time. It takes dozens upon dozens of humans to account for the success and smoothness of your trip - lets re-humanize the experience and double check ourselves before having a Karen moment. We're all about responsibility and taking ownership over here ;) That's why it's important to hire an advisor that obtains the skills I mentioned earlier (organization, communication, etc.).
Have I scared you? I hope not! Like I mentioned... as a small business owner, I can not begin to explain to you the amount of care and dedication I put into my client travels. Especially when I have clients return I get to work with over a prolonged period of time, I dare to say a friendship begins. The whole purpose of my business is to provide a space for once-in-a-life-time memory making. After all, you are putting your trust in MY hands and I do not take that responsibility lightly.
That being said, I can not WAIT to work with you. I am all about transparency and mutual trust. I want to book your family, solo, or group travel for the next 10+ years. I want to become friends and send you Christmas cards and fancy luggage tags. I want to help you make your dream trips come true.
Life is short, the world is wide... you know the rest ;)