As travel begins to recover in 2021 and beyond from the COVID-19 global pandemic, I thought it would be helpful to share some commons myths about travel advisors, and how we really work to help ensure that your hard-earned funds and more importantly, your time, which is PRICELESS is well spent on your vacations.
In this age of information overload (a Google search of “Where should I stay on Maui?” returns 7.7 million results) and pandemic-related uncertainty, we believe travelers can benefit from personalized vacation-planning help now more than ever. There are thousands of travel advisors around the world who are ready to help make travel dreams come true. I am one of 22,000 Virtuoso Travel Advisors, across 50 countries, and I am one of just 425 recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as a Top Specialist in 2021.
Despite what you may have heard, travel advisors aren’t a vanishing breed; we aren’t trying to upsell you; and – trust me – no matter how well traveled you are, I have way more connections than you do. Below are eight of the most common myths about travel advisors, and I’m here to debunk them, once and for all.
Myth #1: A travel advisor is just a fancy name for a travel agent.
Think of travel advisors like financial advisors: We are trusted, knowledgeable sources who help shape and support big decisions in your life. Travel is an investment, and it can yield an incredible return on life. Deciding where and how to go shouldn’t be taken lightly, whether that’s a years-in-the-making Italian sojourn, a bucket-list world cruise, or a spring break safari with your family. Travel agents can be merely transactional – they’ll book plane tickets and finalize hotel reservations – but travel advisors are transformational. I make it my business to get to know you, and I want to work with you again and again on your travel plans, learning everything from your favorite spa treatment to the go-to bottle of wine you like to have waiting in your hotel room.
Myth #2: Every travel advisor is the same.
Travel advisors come from different backgrounds, and we each have own destination specialties and travel-style preferences. Some are pros at family vacations or adventure, for example, while others focus on certain areas of the world, such as Africa or Europe. And because I’m so well-connected, I am able to tap into a network of experts around the world wherever your next trip is going to be. I like to think that not only are we specialists in travel, we are specialists in our clients.
Myth #3: It’s expensive to use a travel advisor.
Yes, I do charge planning fees for travel design, research, or itinerary-crafting services. These fees vary per trip, and I will be upfront about them prior to asking you to sign a client travel services agreement. For my clients, this small fee, typically less than 5% of the cost of the trip, is a minimal cost to know that that your entire trip has been customized and vetted – and knowing you’ve got someone who will be on call before, during, and after their trip – is well worth it.
Fees aside, in the long run, I am probably still going to save you money (and will definitely save you time). Working with me provides value you can’t access on your own, such as complimentary breakfasts, spa or dining credits, and upgrades at hotels – plus stateroom credits and complimentary shore excursions on cruises. With my preferred partnerships with suppliers, I have access to more than 5,000 hotels and partners worldwide where I am able to elevate your experience when you are traveling as my client. I do earn commissions on trips I plan, which may be paid by hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies, however it is important for my clients to know that I am not deciding on what recommendations to make based on the commission amounts I will receive, but based on what is best for you, my client. In some instances that may mean staying at a property that doesn’t pay commission, which is why the planning fee is so important. I will always be acting in your best interests, not mine.
Myth #4: You can’t be part of the trip-planning process when you use a travel advisor.
One of the joys of travel is the anticipation and planning: choosing where to stay, which restaurants to visit, and which sites to see. For some, this part of the process is almost just as fun as the traveling. But for others, there is also the stress of worrying if you’re making the right choice, whether your hotel is where you want to be, and what the room actually looks like. (Decision paralysis is real.) As your travel advisor I will be as involved as much or as little as you want me to be when it comes to swapping travel ideas, making itinerary decisions, and more. The vacation-planning process is collaborative, personal, efficient ... and yes, fun. Working with me as your advisor makes planning seamless, leaving you time for more of the fun stuff, like deciding where to get pizza in Florence (of course I can give you recommendations for that too).
Myth #5: Travel advisors are just trying to earn a commission.
As a trusted travel advisor, I want you and your family to experience the best possible trip, and I will treat your money as if it’s my own. I consider this job as much of a calling as a career – and take pride in crafting a perfect itinerary for your needs, selecting the best hotels, and choosing engaging tour guides. It is not about making a quick buck; it's about truly loving what I do for a living. Nothing makes me happier than hearing travel stories from a client just returned from a trip.
Myth #6: I can plan the same trip faster by myself online …
People are time starved across age groups and income levels – especially right now. Searching through the overwhelming volume of online content often yields questionable results, with conflicting or outdated information. I believe leisure time is your most valuable, nonrenewable asset. Once it’s lost, you can’t get it back. I know the answers to questions you may not even think of – and plan things you never knew existed. I have spent a good amount of time traveling the world, researching and collecting ideas for my clients. I know about the travel experiences you can’t find on the internet (and can assure you, those do actually exist).
Myth #7: … and I can find the same prices and perks on my own too.
Through my global connections and industry relationships, I have access to special rates and offers that are not made publicly available. And beyond the hotel perks and cruise amenities available to Virtuoso advisors, there’s one more skill they have that online booking websites don’t: the ability to pick up the phone. I can call the general manager at the Paris hotel their clients are about to check into to see if an upgrade is available. With luxury travel, it’s definitely about what you know and who you know.
If a hotel’s website says it’s fully booked, there’s a good chance I can still secure a reservation for you. And if your flight gets canceled or delayed, I can probably get you on another flight faster than you can. I will also make sure you’re set up with the best car services, the most personalized tours, those impossible-to-get restaurant reservations, and the right travel insurance. Stop staring at the 73 tabs open on your internet browser and just email me!
Myth #8: Nobody uses travel advisors anymore.
The biggest myth of all is that travel advisors are extinct, having disappeared with the advent of the internet. That couldn’t be further from the truth: The network of 22,000 Virtuoso advisors around the globe is proof. And if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we’ll never take the ability to travel for granted again. When it comes to something as valuable and important as your leisure time, it’s absolutely worth it to work with a professional who will always have you covered.
Please contact me when you are ready to start planning your next trip!