In this era of do-it-yourself trip planning, should you even consider working with a travel advisor instead?
The answer: a resounding yes. More and more travelers are returning to advisors and discovering firsthand how they benefit. TNS Global reports that one in four U.S. travelers used a travel advisor last year, and the number is rising.
“Studies have shown that the satisfaction of online booking has steadily been going down, while the use of travel advisors has been going up,” Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso chairman and CEO, recently told the Boston Globe.
Why should you partner with a travel advisor? The Globe outlined five compelling ways you benefit by working with a travel advisor.
Travel advisors save you money
As the Globe notes, advisors “know the tricks of the trade and keep abreast of changing nuances.” With that experience and knowledge, they’re often able to beat the price you’d find on the web.
Upchurch provided an example of that insider savvy: if a family of six were booking plane tickets to London, they’d go online and click ‘six’ for the number of travelers. “What the travel agent knows is that sometimes if you break up that number up, and book 2, 2 and 2, you could save hundreds on airfare,” Upchurch said. “There are all kinds of examples like this, little tricks of the trade that an agent knows, that can save you money.”
Here’s a fact that might surprise you: Virtuoso travel advisors are also able to secure better value than do-it-yourselfers. The Globe provided an example of a luxury hotel in Las Vegas offered online for $129 a night. A travel advisor could secure a room at the same hotel for $145. However, for just $16 extra a night, the advisor booking would include breakfast, a $100 resort credit, and a room upgrade. Those are all standard benefits included for Virtuoso travelers working with a travel advisor to book their hotel stays.
Travel advisors help when issues arise
Have you ever missed your plane due to a weather issue? Waited with everyone else on line to rebook a cancelled flight? Needed a replacement passport in a hurry? “A travel agent is like your own personal, on-the-road concierge, available to help you out when you need it,” the Globe said.
A true professional advisor will already know what’s going on, and be working on a solution. For example, you’re stuck midair on a delayed flight. You’re about to miss your connection. But your travel advisor is already working on rebooking you on the next flight out.
Working with a travel advisor gives you peace of mind. When issues come up, you’ll know you’re in great hands.
Travel advisors create dream trips and a long-term plan
Top advisors are not only specialists in destinations or travel styles. They’re also specialists in their clients. They’ll ask questions about what you liked and didn’t like on your last trip. Or about your favorite hobbies at home. Or what was special about the best trip you’ve ever taken. Or what’s on your bucket list.
From there, they consult with you on ideas, shape your dream trips and build a long-term travel plan. The result? A trip they design just for your preferences that exceeds your expectations.
Your most valuable asset is your leisure time, so why not invest it as carefully you would your financial assets? “Multi-year travel planning is one of the most valuable things a travel advisor can offer,” Upchurch explained. “Where are you in your life stage? Where do you dream of going? They can put together a plan not just for your next trip or two but for the next five or more years. With that kind of planning, not only can they develop a much more personalized plan, but also one with greater value.”
Travel advisors make sense of seemingly infinite options
With the glut of online travel information out there, it’s overwhelming to sort through it all. So an expert who can help you plan and make decisions is invaluable. “People don’t go to a travel advisor to get more information. Information is ubiquitous; there’s an overload,” Upchurch told the Globe. “They go to get clarity.”
Working with a travel advisor is a partnership. The advisor will ask questions to help clarify exactly what you want. Then together you’ll decide on an itinerary. “A great advisor is a great collaborator,” Upchurch stated. “And one of the main reasons people use a travel advisor is because they love the collaborative process.”
Travel advisors have global expertise and connections
Advisors love to travel the world themselves. They’ve likely been to the destination you’re interested in. Or they’ve planned many trips there for other clients. As well, advisors invest time in attending educational seminars about destinations.
The best travel advisors also forge worldwide networks of contacts to provide on-the-ground expertise. Those experts open doors normally closed to travelers and provide exceptional experiences to cater to special interests or preferences. As the Globe wrote, “If they don’t know the best place to watch the sun set in Algarve or the best bouillabaisse in Marseilles, they likely know someone on the ground who does.”
Advisors build these relationships at events like the annual Virtuoso Travel Week, where they connect in person with hundreds of luxury partners including top hotels, cruise lines and tour operators.
Working with a travel advisor
Ready to give a travel advisor a try and reap all these benefits? Looking for an advisor who specializes in your favorite destination? Want someone close to home? Prefer someone who’s an expert in your favorite travel style? You can search the advisor catalog at virtuoso.com easily, and find an advisor who meets all your needs.
It’s important to select an advisor with a similar communication style and planning approach. “We’ve found that if a consumer doesn’t take some time and energy reading profiles of advisors, the places they’ve been, and the way they present themselves, the potential for the relationship to be a good one is not as high,” said Upchurch.