Usually when I tell people I’m a travel agent, the first question I get asked is “Can you save me money?”
The answer……probably not. At least not the way you are thinking.
It’s not the answer people are looking to hear. Sometimes people walk away right away. Sometimes people look at me incredulously and wonder how/why I’m in business at all. Well, let me take a minute to address those concerns.
I don’t save you money, but I do save you in a multitude of other ways.
No – I probably won’t get you a $50 flight to France. Nor can I get you an all inclusive to Mexico for $300 for the week (and by the way – no one can – at least not at a resort you want to stay at). But this is what I do save you.
- I save you time – you know that thing you can’t make back. I work in a network of suppliers and other advisors to save you from spending hours upon hours online researching where to go, what to do, etc. Because I already know how to ask those questions and, more importantly, who to ask.
- I save you from yourself – The biggest mistake I made as a traveler was when I was visiting Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. We were at the tail end of our vacation and made the decision to save the money and not go inside the monastery. What a mistake we made! All for the sake of saving $100 on what was already a $10,000 vacation. Now it would cost us another $10,000 to go back to Normandy. Between that and the time, we will probably never go again. It is a missed opportunity all for the sake of saving a few dollars. A travel advisor takes their knowledge, their mistakes, and their wisdom and extends it to their client, making sure such mistakes are not repeated and that you don’t miss out on experiences worth spending the money.
- I give you realistic expectations for your budget – most people have no idea what travel really costs, and it keeps them from even trying. Or they immediately assume that they can only afford to travel on the cheap. I completely disagree. Luxury travel is not just the Four Seasons with butler service. Luxury travel is what you want when you want it. And a travel advisor can accommodate. And give you reasonable expectations of how that can be accomplished. I always tell people that if they have an an anniversary, a reunion, or a special occasion coming up in the next few years, talk to an advisor now. They can tell you what it would cost to get you what you want, so you can adequately plan.
- I make your money go further – I spend a good amount of time working and developing relationships with suppliers in my industry. This allows me to do things like upgrade your room, provide you extra spa credits, or give you free breakfast during your stay. Ask an OTA (online travel agency) to ask for that on your behalf, and see what happens.
Travel – at least travel worth spending your money on – costs money
It’s like the difference between McDonald’s and Mortons Steakhouse. Both can feed you. Both can give you what you want – to eat out and not cook – but both are satisfying very different needs.
There are some people in this world who are thrilled to eat out at McDonalds and happy that they saved money not eating anywhere else. Those people probably do not need to hire a travel advisor.
On the other spectrum there are others who understand the value of their dollar and that not all meats are created equal. Who understand the difference between a hamburger patty and a filet mignon. They love the atmosphere of a white table cloth and are willing to spend more for quality.
And then there is a completely different kind of traveler – the one who would never eat at a chain anything and wants the local farm-to-table experience provided by Nona in the middle of Tuscany and the only way you can order is through an entertaining game of charades.
The same goes for travel. You can DIY and stay in a Motel 6. And maybe you are happy to do that – you do you, boo. But if you are one who is looking for a unique and custom experience, who wants to immerse themselves in the culture, and wants to be comfortably accommodated along the way, hire a travel advisor to help maximize your experience.
What is the difference between a $100 room and a $200 room besides the cost? The answer is – it could be a lot of things like location, service, cleanliness, accessibility, dining, amenities; or, it could be absolutely nothing. But you can’t know that just by reading a hotel description. Your travel advisor knows and can make sure you are being pointed in the right direction for the right reason.
The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. And traveling across the world costs money. But it is absolutely worth every penny, especially if you…
Bring with you knowledge so you are adequately wowed
This is where a good travel advisor comes in.
They don’t just purchase your plane tickets, book your hotel, and send you on your way. They arm you with a plan – a detailed itinerary to make sure that you are seeing what you need to see. They get to know you – your travel style, your interests, your hobbies, your travel dreams – and they interweave those things into your travel experience. They give you the practical information to navigate a place you have never been before. And they make sure that you are armed with all the information possible to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Because 9/10 times if you didn’t enjoy something, it simply means you don’t know enough about it. Understand it and it can be fun. It is the best and only budget tip I can offer – if you understand what you are looking at, you will get twice the experience.
At the end of the day, travel costs money. You have to pay for the experience. A good travel advisor will provide you a service and experience that you can not find anywhere else; and, more importantly, it will be an experience worth paying for.