There are times when we plan trips that seem overwhelming. Countless hours of research and our rescheduling of last summer’s trip to Greece left me drained. In the last year, I’ve learned there are some areas of life require a professional. These include baking and decorating a three-tiered wedding cake, handling major plumbing issues, and mending broken bones. Why do we use professionals in these areas? Because they have a level of expertise that guarantees optimal outcomes. They save us time along with pain and heartache. The same can be true for multigenerational family vacations which is why I recommend considering a family travel advisor for these big trips.
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Reasons to Work with a Family Travel Advisor
Today, many families assume they can handle every aspect of trip planning because of the internet and in many ways we can. But it doesn’t mean we always should. Especially when we’re missing out on the wide range of services a travel agent provides.
In the past fifteen years the number of travelers involved in DIY travel planning online has surged. Yet, these do-it-yourself attempts can often prove confusing, frustrating, and time-consuming, especially since the pandemic.
Here’s what you need to know about hiring a family travel advisor, and why it could be one of the best decisions your family makes when traveling in 2021 and beyond.
1. DIY Travel Planning Is Daunting
Before the internet craze that brought us Priceline, Cheap Tickets, and Expedia, the first step in travel for most consumers involved calling up a local travel agent.
The best travel agents cultivated strong working relationships with their clients, providing them with the customized experiences and amenities they wanted while staying within a set budget. If surprises happened on the ground, agents remained one phone call away, always ready and able to help.
Fast-forward to 2021, and most of us spend hours, days, or even weeks online comparison shopping to organize all aspects of our trips. These planning sessions leave us with few guarantees, loads of fine print to wade through, and less-than-satisfactory customer service experiences. Nobody likes 1-800 numbers and mechanized answering services, particularly in the midst of an emergency!
Let’s be honest. Planning and booking a vacation is time-consuming at best, even for the most experienced travelers.
Research Rabbit Holes, Hidden Fees, and Non-Refundable Items
DIY travel planning requires heading down the research rabbit hole. While you Google travel aggregators such as Kayak and Expedia for the best deals, precious time evaporates. In short order, you’re exhausted by search terms and pouring over options (and the fine print accompanying them). Often, what looks like a fantastic deal upfront comes with hidden fees or risky non-refundable disclaimers.
In today’s travel climate, where current events can directly impact where and how we travel, this type of risk is a gamble most of us can’t and shouldn’t take. And that’s not to mention the notorious hidden charges that add up all too quickly. What’s more, when the unforeseen and unexpected arise during a vacation, there’s no one to turn to for personalized help. This scenario is hardly a recipe for relaxing family trips.
2. Travel Advisors Collaborate With Travelers
What’s the alternative? Travel advisors. A new breed of travel agents who operate differently than their predecessors. Rather than simply taking orders or booking transactions, travel advisors work collaboratively with customers.
They wade through vast amounts of information assisting travelers with the information needed to make informed decisions. Think of travel advisors like financial advisors. They assist clients in managing travels just as financial advisors help with money.
In other words, you can still enjoy hands-on family travel planning without the burden of starting from scratch and hoping for the best. Cutting out unnecessary research time and legwork permits you to plan more complex, satisfying, and meaningful family vacations.
Advantages of Working With a Family Travel Advisor
Besides streamlining the travel planning experience, many other compelling reasons to consider working with a travel advisor exist. For starters, advisors have a level of expertise and training that can’t be duplicated.
They are seasoned travelers in their own rights. So, they have access to knowledge and options you might not even know exist.
Many specialize in niches such as family travel, eco-tourism, multigenerational travel, or cruises. They also hone real-life, on-the-ground knowledge about specific geographic locations. This unparalleled knowledge equates with unique, rewarding vacations.
1. An Advocate and Navigator for Your Family Vacation
Working with a travel advisor also ensures you get it right when it comes to travel planning. This point remains essential in the current climate. COVID-19 regulations have made trip planning more complicated than ever. Now, you have more documents to carry and decisions to make. You must adhere to local regulations, which can change from one day to the next.
We all know that travel plans rarely go off without a snag. Whether it’s a canceled flight, missing luggage, or changing COVID-19-related travel restrictions, these issues can put a damper on your family vacation. They can also make you feel very alone.
Fortunately, a travel agent will assist you in navigating these challenges. They’re always one reassuring phone call or email away. Armed with relevant knowledge and assistance, your family vacations will prove more restful and worry-free.
And when things on the ground change quickly? Your travel advisor represents an advocate. Because many travel advisors offer clients 24/7 backup email and phone support, you won’t have to think twice about who to call when trouble rears its ugly head.
2. Savings and Extra Value You Must See to Believe
In recent years, some travel advisors have banded together in large consortia. This strategic move means they have a high and unusual degree of leverage when negotiating with travel suppliers on your behalf.
One of the largest and most popular networks is Virtuoso. It includes more than 8,900 travel advisors and 340 travel agencies in 20 different nations.
“Due to Virtuoso’s more than $12.5 billion in purchasing power, advisors who work with this consortium gain access to incredible perks and amenities” says Patty from Our Whole Village. These include everything from spa credits and complimentary breakfasts to rooms with the best views and even hotel upgrades. In other words, working with a travel advisor means you can go back to being a pampered traveler rather than a DIY planner harried by all of the hats you must wear.
3. One-of-a-Kind Experiences You Can’t Get Elsewhere
Besides providing you with top-notch amenities and smoking deals, an excellent travel advisor goes the extra mile when it comes to helping you plan your dream vacation. For example, they’ll get to know your family members and varied interests. Then, they’ll craft customized experiences based on this insider knowledge.
They can also assist you in forging local connections through unique experiences such as culturally immersive homestays. And they have the knowledge to ensure your family will enjoy engaging and meaningful travel experiences that can’t be “Googled.”
How to Find the Right Family Travel Advisor
Working with a family travel advisor can make the difference between an “okay” vacation and one your family will cherish for a lifetime. But where should you start when it comes to finding the right agent for your needs? One of the best ways is through word of mouth, so reach out to friends and family.
From there, a little online research will help, too. Once you’ve got a list of potential advisors, narrow your selection down to an agent with the ideal mix of expertise, chemistry, and cost for your family’s needs. Here are a few more tips for securing an excellent advisor.
Remember that fee structures vary by agents, so you’ll want to make sure you understand everything included with each agent’s services. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) reports that only six states actively regulate travel agencies. These states include Nevada, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Washington. So, consider working with an agent aligned with a renowned and highly respected consortium such as Virtuoso to ensure you receive the highest level of quality and care.
Are you looking for an advisor that’s reputable, reliable, and experienced, but also committed to making the world a little better? If so, I recommend talking to Patty at Our Whole Village.
Her family-focused travel company specializes in meaningful adventures that will connect you and your kids with nature, local cultures, and unique experiences. They get stellar reviews and are putting together our Peru trip for 2022.