If you’ve never worked with a travel advisor, you might wonder why it’s worth it. What value does an advisor bring to your travel experience?
Here’s one big benefit. You’re 6,000 miles from home. Something goes wrong – either a little bit wrong or (hopefully not) very wrong. You need someone who can rescue you from your travel problem. Especially if you’re in a place where you don’t speak the language, your phone isn’t really working, and you don’t know anyone except your travel companions.
Book your trip with a travel advisor, and you have a built-in resource to resolve even the stickiest travel problem. This skill is so prized that 69% of clients named it as a key reason they work with advisors. That same survey by the American Society of Travel Agents found that 92% of people who used a travel advisor planned to do so again.
Virtuoso’s 9,000 travel advisors save the day virtually every single day of the year for clients all over the globe. Here are just three stories where an advisor cleared up an urgent travel problem.
Travel Problem #1: The Fullers in Istanbul
Jenn and Bill Fuller are Virtuoso travelers who live in south Florida. Their advisor is Arlene Feen, also in south Florida. The Fullers average one or two big trips a year (both are retired).
A few years ago they found themselves in Istanbul with a large array of family members. They’d all taken a short cruise while in the city, but one family member had forgotten to get a passport stamp at a port. When the entire group tried to leave Istanbul, said family member was detained at the airport.
Istanbul Airport authorities took their loved one away to a holding cell. The Fullers had no idea what to do – so they called Feen. Even with the time difference, she contacted a Virtuoso partner on the ground in Istanbul. The partner arrived at the airport within two hours, talked to the authorities and cleared up the issue. The Fullers and their family were on their way. Feen rebooked their tickets home as this was unfolding.
“Travel is different when you have relationships with people all over the travel industry,” says Jenn Fuller. “Arlene has helped us in some extremely complicated situations in other countries where we didn’t know exactly what to do. Istanbul was clearly one example that got a bit scary, but even when you plan something like an African safari, every detail has to be taken care of. You need someone with those relationships in the industry. The knowledge is essential.”
Travel Problem #2: Carter Drewry and the Almost-Ruined Honeymoon
When Carter Drewry and her brand-new husband Eric arrived at the US Airways gate headed to their honeymoon in Jamaica, they were turned away.
The reason? Eric’s passport was damaged. Turns out, he’d recently washed his pants with his passport in them. And to make things even worse, it was a Sunday afternoon. “It was a really weird emotional place to go from being so excited about this trip to, in a few seconds, being terrified it wouldn’t happen,” she recalls. “I was in tears at the airport.”
Drewry called her advisor, Louisa Gehring, who immediately swung into action. Gehring switched the flights, notified the Jamaica property, and found a way for the couple to get an emergency passport. They had to drive to Atlanta from Virginia, and it ended up being a two-day delay. But they did – finally! – arrive in Jamaica. “None of it would have been possible without Louisa,” Drewry notes gratefully.
Travel Problem #3: Blake Murry’s Cabo Weather Situation
Oklahoma-based Virtuoso traveler Blake Murry works with advisor Gena Stoll in Phoenix. They connected through Murry’s boss, who has also planned trips with Stoll.
The first-ever trip Murry and Stoll worked on together was his honeymoon to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The two never met, and planned the trip together via e-mail, phone, and Skype. They had a working relationship without that face-to-face element that often cements a connection.
“We considered ourselves really fortunate to be going to Cabo on a honeymoon,” says Murry, “but unfortunately as it got closer, we were slated to be arriving at the tail end of a tropical storm.”
Murry and his new wife didn’t know what to do. So they reached out to Stoll. She set up weather alerts, put new flights on hold, contacted the resort they’d be staying at, and provided them with a series of potential contingencies and other options.
“She was on top of everything for about 24 to 48 hours non-stop,” recalls Murry. “She let us know everything to expect and had a series of backup plans ready for us.”
The trip shifted, but thankfully only by a day. Because of Stoll’s work and her relationships with the Cabo resort staff, everything went off without a hitch.
“Probably the No. 1 benefit of working with a Virtuoso advisor,” says Murry, “is that we don’t need to sit around sifting through a bunch of recommendations and reviews of different hotels and options in a place we want to go. The advisor knows everything. But, there’s that second tier you don’t think about. If something goes wrong, you want that peace of mind.”