Hidden Travel Agent services
Recently I was reminded of a few hidden travel agent services that I routinely provide. These will...
"So why the heck should I use a Travel Agent anyway? I can call the supplier directly or I can use Costco - I love Costco you know. Sorry if I'm so blunt - but I just want to know."
That's the question I was asked the other night. This was a potential customer who's friend had used me for several years and was asking about a river cruise. So what was my response?
So I asked a few questions:
Then I asked - if you called the supplier directly (or especially Costco) would they ask these questions? No. They are order takers. The suppliers are incentived to make sure you're on the right vacation. Instead, they are interested in booking you on their ship using whatever promotion you called about. They certainly won't compare their company with others objectively. Making sure the trip fits your personality and needs is as important as getting the best deal. Getting a great price on a trip that really doesn't fit your needs does you no good. A good travel agent's first job is to ensure good fit. A good travel agent is interested in your repeat business. Not just a one time purchase.
Most people want a good deal. There's a few aspects to this.
If you go directly to the supplier, will they make sure you have the best insurance or will they just sell you whatever the supplier offers? Will they offer you pre and post cruise extensions and suggest the best ones? Can the supplier work with you on airfare? (example: Recently we saved a client a ton of money by looking at an alternative city to fly out of). Will they make sure transfers from the airport to the cruise are included? There's much more to making a vacation an incredible experience than booking just cruise or hotel.
A great travel agent will provide advice about what to book in the first place - part of which was described above under finding the best fit. And of course we can customized trips to suite your specific needs. But we also offer advice on the trip once booked. Like:
Finally, a good travel agent is here to help you through the inevitable issues. A good travel agent will advocate for you:
Well the client didn't really say that. But that's how she must have felt since I was talking for a good 20 minutes. There's so much to tell. Travel agents ensure the trip is a good fit, ensure the client gets the best deal possible, they look at the whole trip, not just a component, advocates for you, provides advice and makes sure you have someone to help you in case things go wrong.
Actually that's not true. A GREAT travel agent does all these things. Not all travel agents are good or even great. Too many agents think of themselves as order takers or they are just looking for an inexpensive way to travel. But a great agent is looking for a long term relationship with a customer. A great agent is looking at maximizing the client's long term value, not their own. And a great agent establishes deep relationships with the travel suppliers so that they not only have deep product knowledge but leverage (for you) when you need an advocate.
Here's some other links that may be of interest: