As Dream Destinations Unlimited prepares for official launch on May 1, the most common initial reactions we’ve heard are:
- Travel agents still exist?
- Why would anyone use a travel agent when you can do it all online now?
- I am one of those people who loves to plan vacations. Why would I hire a travel agent to take over one of the most fun aspects of my vacation?
To be fair, the industry has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. Gone are the days when the only way to book an airline ticket was through a neighborhood travel agency. As technology has evolved, the industry has also evolved dramatically to create a new breed of travel agent. In fact, the title of agent doesn’t seem to fit the bill any longer. More fitting titles would be: travel adviser, travel consultant or travel concierge.
Today’s breed of agent is no longer utilized primarily for booking travel…rather, they are prized for their deep knowledge of the industry, their destination and niche expertise, their relationships and connections with suppliers and consortia, their full service planning capabilities (down to dining reservations and guided tours), and their ability to deliver clients the most enjoyable and personalized travel experiences of their lives.
As if that weren’t enough, here are a few practical benefits of working with a travel consultant on your next vacation:
- Lower Prices – Because travel agents are often members of consortia organizations (like Ensemble Travel Group, Signature Network or Vacation.com), they are able to access offers that the average traveler doesn’t ever see. You might be thinking, “I can book the cheapest rate on my own by booking directly with the hotel/cruiseline/car company.” Right? Not always. Many times, agents are given package prices that are not available to the public. So, even if you end up paying an up front agency/professional fee for research and planning, you might still get a better deal than if you’d booked on your own.
- WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. This is not always true when booking with large online travel engines. Sure, those deals may look wonderful, but even with fellow traveler reviews, how do you know for sure that your hotel is in a safe place or that you are getting the most you can possibly get for the money you are paying? How do you know the one-size-fits-all package you are booking will turn out to be exactly what you’re looking for in your next vacation? You just don’t. At Dream Destinations, every potential client receives a complimentary vacation consultation. In this consultation, we will share the business side of what we do and, more importantly, we will ask you a lot of very specific questions and actually listen to your answers. We will figure out what you are truly looking for in a vacation and we will get to work to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible, so every penny of your money is an investment in a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.
- Payment Options – When you book a trip on one of the online engines, you can find some pretty great deals. But you will pay for the entire vacation up front. For travelers that don’t have that kind of cash on hand all at once, using an agent can be helpful, as they are sometimes able to work out easy-to-manage payment plans.
- More Availability – If you listen closely, you will hear stories of hero agents who have secured reservations for clients at a sold out property. Sometimes, agents have access to a block of rooms or cruise cabins that have been pre-reserved especially for their consortia members or their own clients. Other times, well…the agent really is just a rock star and they pull every string in the book to get the client a room in that “sold out” hotel. Remember, suppliers like working with agents and will do things for them because of their previous relationship and camaraderie.
- Security/Backup – Even if you’ve purchased travel protection insurance, any number of scenarios could disturb or interrupt your travel. When you agree to work with an agent, you are locking in the agent’s attention, support, advice and guidance – not just in the planning phase of your vacation, but during and after your travel as well. Think of your agent as the angel on your shoulder. Natural disaster in your destination? Flights canceled? Missed a connection? If you booked online, you would be on your own. Use an agent, though, and you can breathe easier…knowing you’ll be taken care of in the event that something goes wrong.
- VIP Treatment – Because your agent has connections with travel consortia and suppliers, they are able to pull all sorts of strings to impress you. Why? Because they want nothing more than to impress you again when you come back to them for your next vacation…and your next after that. In addition to familiarity and knowledge of your personal travel preferences and needs, agents constantly have access to special perks, upgrades, treats and surprises that they will use to benefit you on your dream vacation.
So, do better deals, personalized attention, flexible planning and VIP status sound good to you? Dream Destinations Unlimited welcomes the opportunity to serve as your vacation concierge. From now until April 30th, anyone who likes our Facebook page and messages us to be added to our Launch Wait List for a complimentary vacation consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype) will receive a 50% discount on agency fees if they decide to go ahead and work with us to book their travel (no obligations to purchase).
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