Better late than never

I realize we’re a few months in, but 2016 has been off to a great start here at Globetrotter Travel!  January was a busy month for us as we exhibited in a large Bridal Show at the Lansing Center at the beginning of the month. We met with many brides who were eager to have some help with their honeymoon planning.  We distributed a LOT of brochures, but we still have a small tower of brochure boxes left in our office for the next show.

bridal show

We’re continuing to work with many brides from this show on their honeymoon plans and have booked a few honeymoons to warm weather destinations like Cancun and Punta Cana.  We also had a luggage package giveaway for the first honeymoon booked with us following this show, and we’re excited to deliver it to the lucky bride.

After the busy start we had to the year, we took a week off at the end of January to cruise the Caribbean and it was a great trip.  We explored some islands we hadn’t been to before and when we returned home, I immediately recommended Aruba as a destination for a couple who was looking to go somewhere new in the Caribbean.

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We returned home from our cruise to a lot of new trip requests and in addition to honeymoon planning, we’ve stayed busy planning birthday trips, anniversary trips, family spring break trips, cruises, and bachelorette party weekends.  I also had the opportunity to register for a great seminar at sea opportunity in April, so we’ll be heading back to the Caribbean in a few weeks for cruise training and exploring more new ports. Visiting these islands allows me to make better recommendations when it comes to planning trips for travelers who want to get away to somewhere warm, but aren’t sure where to go.

Stay tuned for more frequent updates throughout the year and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or trip requests!

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Busy!

When I started Globetrotter Travel, I had high hopes of blogging regularly about travel trends and destinations. I even brainstormed a huge list of blog topics that I planned to write about. I’ve learned, however, that running an entire business on your own can be VERY time-consuming.

Business picked up quickly after opening in May and it’s been pretty constant, which I’m thrilled about. When I’m not quoting trips, making reservations, or managing bookings however, I’ve stayed very busy by completing a LOT of trainings. Between webinars for travel suppliers and destinations, and on demand training through my host agency, there has been little free time to be spent blogging. I will continue to work through the list of blog topics I brainstormed as time allows, but I wanted to address why there hasn’t been much activity on the blog lately.

On a different note, all the time I’ve spent on training and education is starting to pay off. I’ve been officially re-certified (I was certified at my previous travel agency) as a 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist. I’ve also become a PEARLS agent with Paul Gauguin cruises, in addition to completing three specialist courses with Viking River Cruises. Now, I just need to find some time off to take advantage of the travel agent perks available through these programs!

How much is this going to cost?

Can you really beat the price I found on Travelocity (Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, Kayak, Groupon, etc.)? Yes! There is no obvious answer to this question because there are a ton of factors that go into determining the price of a flight, hotel, car, cruise, or vacation, but the short answer is yes!  Depending on the nature of the trip, more often than not, we’re able to beat or match with added value the advertised prices on discount travel websites.  To be completely honest, there are times when we are unable to beat the price that one of these sites is offering for certain trips and in that case, we’ll simply tell you the truth.  We will always stress the benefits of purchasing with a travel agent due to the ongoing support and added value we provide, but the choice is yours and you won’t be out anything for having a professional do the research for you.

As a thrifty person by nature, I tend to get hooked when I see special travel offers come across my email, but it’s important to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.  Those Getaways emails can suck me in with their advertised prices, but once you start reading the rules and fine print it quickly becomes apparent that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  That’s not to say that there aren’t deals to be had on those websites, but proceed with caution when booking through those sources – I’ve heard a few too many unfortunate vacation stories due to the service, or lack therof, that these online companies provide.

I mentioned in my last post that there are travel suppliers and wholesalers that still work exclusively with travel agents.  These suppliers offer incentives and promotions regularly for us to pass on to our customers that aren’t offered online through discount travel sites.  The internet is a powerful tool for doing your own travel research, but it certainly isn’t the only one available.  Travel agents have access to entire tour companies, packages, and sales, that you, as a consumer are unable to book on your own.  There are many choices out there when it comes to booking travel and it can be time consuming researching ALL of the deals that are advertised.  That’s where we come in.

We spend the time doing the research for your specific trip and pass that information on to you.  Once we’ve gone back and forth and finalized all the arrangements, we make and manage the booking for you.  That means we keep track of deposits and final payments, reminders on deadlines, travel insurance, online check-in, seat assignments, etc.  Travel agents are also available to provide assistance in the case of an unexpected delay, cancellation, or other problems that may arise before, during, or after traveling.  The best part is, our services are free to utilize.  The suppliers pay us a commission for bringing them customers, so you get support throughout the entire planning, booking, and traveling process, and it doesn’t cost you one extra cent.

An exception to the rule that you don’t pay the travel agent directly,  is for domestic flight bookings only.  Since airlines very rarely pay commissions for domestic flights alone anymore, without being part of a package with hotel, car, tour, etc., many travel agents add a minimal fee to book just a domestic flight.  Why wouldn’t I just book it online then and save myself the fee?  Travel agents are often able to beat or match published prices online and they provide all of the support throughout the entire process that I described earlier.  You’re simply not going to get that kind of support through discount travel websites.

Another common fee that some travel agents have started implementing in recent years is a deposit to ensure that the booking will be completed with them and that they are paid for their hours of work looking up quotes.  For example, an agent could spend 3 hours looking up detailed quotes for a client, provide that client with the options they found, and the client could then end up booking a similar itinerary elsewhere on their own.  In that case, the deposit, typically around $50, would stay with the travel agent to cover their time.  If the client books their trip with the travel agent, however, that initial deposit of $50 applies towards the cost of their trip, and the travel agent receives their commission payment as normal from the supplier.  In the few months that Globetrotter Travel has been in business, we’ve had two clients take the information we provided elsewhere to book on their own (and ended up paying more than the quotes we found), and they have come back to us expressing their regret and asking for further assistance from us.  At this point, Globetrotter Travel does not charge a deposit for our services and it is our hope that we won’t have to implement such a fee anytime soon.

In summary

  • Travel agents are able to beat prices advertised on discount travel websites

  • To utilize the services of a travel agent is almost always FREE

  • The support that a travel agent provides throughout the entire travel process is invaluable

  • Call Globetrotter Travel to start planning your next trip

Why to hire a Travel Agent from Globetrotter Travel

Why would I hire you when I can just book my trip online?  Can you really beat the price I found on Travelocity (Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, Kayak, Groupon, etc.)? How much will it cost me to hire you?  Travel agents hear these types of questions regularly and, the answers we give determine whether or not we’re hired for the job.  Like many service based professions, we’re convincing the customer of the value of the service we provide.  Unlike other services, however, utilizing the services of a travel agent almost never costs the customer a penny.

Hiring a travel agent to assist in the travel planning process can take a significant burden off the customer. Some customers already know exactly what the trip is that they want and they just want to make sure they’re getting the very best price or value for that trip. Others have dates in mind, but aren’t sure where they want to go. Whether they’re booking a six month around the world cruise or a single overnight hotel stay, a travel agent can help. Even seasoned travelers can benefit from the tools and information that a travel agent has access to.

All customers have different priorities when it comes to their specific travel plans, but the two most common reasons for hiring a travel agent are time and travel cost. Planning a trip can take a lot of time, especially if you’re planning for multiple guests with different interests or planning a complicated itinerary. Why not hire a professional to do the hard work of researching all the best travel options for you? Not only do travel agents have access to exclusive deals (believe it or not, there are still travel and tour suppliers who work exclusively with travel agents), but it is our job to connect guests with the right suppliers for their travel needs. These suppliers value the guests travel agents bring them, and pay us a commission for the sale, meaning, the customer very rarely pays the travel agent a cent for this service.

Cost is also an important factor for hiring a travel agent since unfortunately; most of us don’t have an unlimited vacation budget. Many people spend countless hours going back and forth between discount travel websites comparing factors like price, location, flight times, and reviews. By the time they’ve finished their research and decided that the second flight they found was their least expensive option, the advertised price has increased and they have to start their search over. It’s no wonder they need a vacation.

Travel agents have access to some of the most comprehensive search and booking tools that simply aren’t available online to the general public. These tools are incredibly efficient and allow us to get an accurate travel quote based on actual available inventory, unlike many online booking engines that advertise prices and availability that truly aren’t available. This is part of the reason why flights are overbooked so frequently and if you haven’t accepted the airline’s offer to take a later flight for a $200 voucher, you’re checking your bag plane side because there’s absolutely no room left in the overhead bins for your carry on. If you booked this flight on your own through a discount online booking tool, you find yourself at the mercy of the airline without any support or assistance with the details of rebooking and how this may affect the remainder of your trip. If you booked through a travel agent, however, assistance with the changes in your travel plans is only a phone call away.

As a travel agent, I spend a good portion of each day doing travel research. Between looking up quotes and booking itineraries for clients, I’m attending webinars and trainings for specific suppliers and destinations. Like most industries, the travel industry is constantly changing – airline policies and fees, entry requirements for different countries, cruise rules and regulations – the list goes on. I stay as knowledgeable as possible about current travel news and promotions so I can pass that information on to my customers to save them time and money.

To summarize – travel agents provide a travel planning and booking service. The majority of the time, this service is provided free of charge and will not only save the customer time and money, but will typically result in increased value (package or room upgrades, credits, gifts, etc.). When I started this post, I intended on covering all the questions in the first paragraph in one blog, but I clearly have a lot to say on this topic, so I’m going to save some for my next post on travel agent pricing, quotes, and payment. Thanks for reading and happy travels this Memorial Day Weekend!

Let the traveling commence!

After months of preparation, I am thrilled to announce that Globetrotter Travel is officially open for business! It’s been an adventure so far and I’m excited to see what our first few months have in store for us.  We’ve spent countless hours consulting, brainstorming ideas, filing paperwork, training, and building a brand new desk for our office, and we’re finally ready to move on to the next phase!

Check our website and blog weekly for travel updates, deals, and current promotions and please don’t hesitate to contact us with all of your vacation and travel planning questions!  Our next blog will cover the advantages of having a travel agent and why everyone should utilize our FREE services.