In this digital world of ours, it’s easy to buy everything online from furniture to groceries and even cars. Many people book their own travel online, but those who recognize the difficulty of vacation planning, especially after 2020, understand the importance of working with an experienced travel advisor. Planning a vacation goes way beyond just choosing a destination and booking a hotel. You need a professional to help select the right destination and design an itinerary that is suited to your travel style. You also need someone who is well-versed in the nuances of travel insurance and cancellation policies.
If you have been thinking about planning a well-deserved vacation, there is one thing you should know: All travel advisors are not the same. Each has his/her own level of knowledge based on training and travel experiences. Choosing the right travel advisor is as important as choosing the right realtor, dentist, lawyer or any other service provider that you trust with your hard-earned dollars. Below are some of the critical things to consider when choosing a travel advisor.
One way in which travel advisors may be different is in their area or areas of expertise. In other words, the types of trips, the places, or the types of clients they work with can vary greatly. Some travel advisors are generalists and sell everything. This can be compared to a doctor who is a general practitioner. They know a little bit about a lot of things but don’t specialize in anything. If you were looking for treatment for a broken leg, you would see an orthopedic doctor, not a general practitioner. Similarly, if you’re looking for active and adventure travel, European river cruises, or small ship/expedition ocean cruises, you will want to find a travel advisor who specializes in these areas. You want someone who has focused their experience and training on this type of adventure.
Another important consideration when choosing a travel advisor is education, whether that be through online training, certifications, experience in the destination or type of travel, or a combination of any of these. These days, it is possible to purchase a card online and become a certified travel advisor, even without experience. Because of this, it is important to make sure your potential travel advisor has credible credentials from a reliable organization. For instance, you should look for someone who is affiliated with the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and/or Travel Leaders Network. In addition, you’ll want to see what certifications they have, either with specific tour operators (e.g. AmaWaterways) or in a specific niche (e.g. Certified Group Event Travel Specialist). Association with larger companies or organizations let you know that they are appropriately certified, have errors and omissions insurance, and comply with all local and state laws.
When you visit or talk to a potential travel advisor for the first time, it’s essential to make sure you are compatible with them. In other words, do you feel as though you are being respected when you talk to them? Are they listening to your wishes and do you feel that they understand what you’re looking for? Since you may be spending a fair amount of time working with this person, you will want to make sure you can get things done effectively and efficiently with them. It’s important that you both are the right fit for each other.
Whether you have just started thinking about traveling or are ready to book a trip, make sure to do your research when looking for a travel advisor. Although many people believe that all travel advisors are the same, they are not. Areas such as specialties, certifications, and compatibility can vary from one advisor to another, which is why it is essential to know what you are looking for and what you prefer when you start your research. I would love the opportunity to chat with you to see if we are the right fit for working together to plan your next vacation.