Why should I book with you instead of one of the big online sites?
Will an online booking site ask why you hated the hotel you stayed at last summer? Will it care that your kids like an active, outdoor kids club? Does it know that your husband is a foodie? When you call to ask a question, can you call right back and talk to the same nice person again? Will they follow up to make sure you have all the key info about your cruise or resort, or will you have to do more research to make sure you know the details? Will they email you to remind you of your upcoming payment? Or let you know how many formal nights there will be on your cruise, and what the suggested dress is? Will you receive a Bon Voyage email from them that includes their personal mobile number in case of an emergency? Will they be personally invested in your family’s vacation experience? I will. I’m not a computer program, I’m YOUR travel agent. I care very much that you get the vacation experience YOU want.
Isn’t it cheaper to book with Expedia?
My clients prefer the best value for their money, rather than the cheapest experience- this is where the expertise of a travel agent is invaluable. I won’t recommend the cheapest room at the resort if it’s not a good fit for your trip. I always provide a better value than an online booking engine.
Can’t I find the info on the internet?
I like to say, “the internet is for looking, your travel agent is for booking”. The internet is a great resource but when you start to dig, you’ll find that there is a lot of conflicting information- sifting through it all can eat up a ton of your time. Use the internet for inspiration and to narrow down your destination choices but work with me to get the best value at the right location based on your travel preferences and budget.
But I like to plan trips, are you going to take over?
Not unless you want me to. Go ahead and choose all the components you want, look up favorite hotel brands, find out what’s special about different destinations. When you’re ready, let’s put our heads together to narrow down your favorites to identify the best fit for your trip. I’ll also provide additional tips, make the reservations and confirmations, track payment dates, and take care of any issues that arise before, during or after your trip.
I HATE to plan trips, will you plan it for me?
Of course! We’ll start with a consultation to help me understand exactly the trip you want, then I'll craft an itinerary that fits your vision and budget. I’ll bring you the best options to choose from, and together we’ll tweak the plan until you’re pleased. I’ll take care of booking the components, making special requests, and even make dining reservations and create a daily itinerary if you’d like.
My friend just went to XYZ and loved it, why not just book what she did?
Your friend may or may not share your taste in vacations- she may love nightlife, or maybe she’s an early bird. You might share the same taste as your friend but her husband or children might like very different things from yours. And the resort may have changed since she stayed there- I once had a client who asked for the same adult-only all-inclusive as her friend went to the year before, for her wedding anniversary, but in the interim it had been converted to a family resort. It never occurred to her to check and, had she not been working with me, she would not have known until she arrived.
Why would you have more clout with suppliers than me, if you are just one person?
In most areas, agents still make the majority of the bookings. Suppliers want to make sure agents’ clients are extremely satisfied so that the agent will recommend their product again. If something doesn’t go as planned, we can quickly get in touch with the people who matter in the company and who can make it right in situations where it may take an individual traveler much more time to get a problem solved.
Are you alone in this or do you have backup in the industry?
My business is an independent contractor of a much, much larger agency. Because of their size, they are well-known amongst suppliers and as their contractor I share their clout. If I do not get results on my own, I can reach out to my "big sister" for immediate and powerful assistance. Together, we will always do everything we can to make sure your vacation is a success.
Does your agency relationship have any other benefits for me?
Because my “big sister” agency is so productive, I often get extra perks and amenities to offer my clients that aren’t available with other agencies or by booking online. We are sometimes given special pricing, and we have dedicated account executives who will get involved if our clients need help.
When I give you my credit card information, who is charging it? What guarantees to I have when I do business with you? I hear horror stories about agencies going out of business and people losing their vacations.
Your money never touches our agency account. Your payment information comes to me via a secured webform and I run the payment directly with the supplier, from whom you receive a confirmation. Your payments are processed on the supplier’s system, and your reservation is set with the supplier as soon as your credit card is processed. This is the standard of service in the travel industry- an agent should never run your credit card into his or her agency account (and in some places it is illegal to do so). This way, even if something happened to an agency you would still have a reservation.
Do I have to pay for my trip up front?
Payment schedules are governed by the policies of each travel supplier. Most require a deposit to confirm your reservation, with the balance due 30-120 days prior to travel. The amount required for deposit varies between suppliers.
Why are deposits non-refundable?
The non-refundable status of deposits is based on the refund policies of each individual travel supplier.
Why does it cost more to travel solo?
Most cruises, tours, resorts and hotels price their products based on double occupancy. If a single traveler is using space and services that are intended for two, the cost is higher than the per-person rate to cover expenses (such as hotel nights) that would normally be divided between two people.
Why does cruise pricing change?
I recently wrote a blog about the considerations used when pricing cruises- get the low down
What forms of payment do you accept?
We proudly process payments by major credit card. Some suppliers may have restrictions on certain types of cards.
I reserved my cruise directly with the cruise line, but now I wish I had an agent to call with questions- can you help me?
If you made your reservation with the cruise line directly, you are permitted to transfer that reservation to me to be serviced within a certain amount of time (usually 30-60 days). Each cruise line has a different process. Please contact me and I’ll help you with the needed forms.
If you do not want to transfer the reservation to me, I can’t advise you about your cruise since I don’t have access to check your specific information.
For the same reason, if you made your reservation with another travel agent please continue to contact him or her with your questions.
How much is your planning fee?
My standard planning fee is $100. Some types of trips are more complex and the planning fee may be higher- you will always know exactly what the fee will be before I begin working on your trip. There is no planning fee for cruise reservations that are transferred to me after booking.
Why do you charge a planning fee? I’ve seen that other agencies don’t.
Some agencies keep their services pared down, simply making your reservation and emailing your travel documents to you. I am with you during every step of the process, and I invest much more time to make sure you feel super-special and help you begin your vacation experience way before you board an airplane or cruise ship. I love to spoil my guests with luxury service, including (but not limited to):
Design a personalized itinerary framework based on the info you share during our complimentary consultation
Printed travel documents delivered beautifully with packing lists, destination guide(s), travel tips and a trip-specific gift
VIP guest letter sent to your hotel/resort manager in anticipation of your arrival
My personal mobile number in case you should need my help during your trip
Assistance making special arrangements, such as: private tours/excursions, event tickets, theatre tickets, dinner reservations and celebrations
Recommend activities, tours and excursions based on your interests, as well as reputable providers for these services
Coordinate pre- and post-cruise (or tour) flights, hotel stays, transfers and activities as you desire
Welcome home gift
What in the world is “experience portfolio planning”?
Just as most folks have financial goals, many people also have travel goals- a list of the destinations or activities they want to experience in their lifetime. Often, this list has a lot of question marks- which ones should we save for when we have children? Which should we do before we have kids? Which experiences are best suited for retirement? Or even, what time of year should we take this trip? And of course, what will be the cost of this trip? I’ll help you see how your travel goals fit into your larger life plan, make recommendations to answer your question marks, and rough out the cost of each trip. Your experience portfolio is an excellent tool to help your financial advisor map out space for your travel goals in your overall plan.