Every hear of Contiki? They are what I call an alternative travel supplier. In my previous post we provided an overview of what an alternative travel supplier is and why you should be interested. Here's the link in case you missed it.
In this post, we'll give you a case study of how this might work.
Sometimes an alternative travel supplier is a better fit for you.
As many of you know, one of our specialties is river cruising. Check out this post on what what specializing means. While the average age of river cruising has come down over time, it's still well above 35 years old. See this post for more on river cruise ages. So what if a client is a twenty something looking for lots of adventure? My mantra is that we always do the right thing for the client. So while the right 20 something MIGHT enjoy a river cruise, with a little questioning, I can quickly determine if it's not a good fit. In this case, let's assume the client is young, interested in more adventure and maybe a place they won't feel out of place even if traveling solo.
Ever hear of Contiki tours? This is a company that caters to 18 - 35 year olds. Their products are simply fantastic, wide ranging and fun. The trips always feature lots of group meetings in casual environments, activities suitable to younger adults with an emphasis on fun. How do you know this isn't just travel agent hype? We sent our two sons to New Zealand with Contiki and they had a great time. Here's their accounts: here, here and here. I can't say enough about how well the tour was suited to them - socially, activity level wise, interest wise and value wise.
Contiki doesn't advertise much. So basically you will only know about them from a travel agent. That agent will give you information and advice. They will determine if you should choose a Superior or Budget tour. The travel agent will suggest specific trips depending if you are interested in an easy pace, adventures, high energy or skiing. They will see if there's any existing groups available and find the right tour in the right destination. They will help you think through not only the specific tour but air fare and all the extras; many times it's those extras that will determine the best choice rather than the tour itself. And they can explain the payment and cancellation schedules.
So once we qualify a client we identify the travel supplier that offers the best fit. We are not limited by only the suppliers that advertise. We are not limited by only the suppliers that are popular, or that your friends have used or suppliers that have lots of reviews on the internet. However we DO limit ourselves to reputable suppliers, those in good financial position, and those that our clients have given us positive reviews on. We also prefer suppliers that we know will service our clients well. And of course we always work within a clients budget. Which brings up something else - an excellent travel agent will have access to what's on sale, what promotions are being offered in the moment and sometimes in the future.
There are of course other possible solutions than Contiki. And that of course is where a really good travel agent can provide added value. Maybe the client really wants a cruising experience. So perhaps Royal Caribbean offer the perfect fit. Even though this is a heavily advertised product, the vast majority of their bookings are fed from travel agents. Or perhaps they want a smaller ship - we have lots of suppliers that can fit this bill as well.
Alternative suppliers like Contiki can offer a great fit for many travelers. Your goal as a consumer is to find these suppliers; we think the best solution to this goal is to use an excellent travel agent.