Why I am A Travel Agent
Awhile back, I wanted go to England, and see the British Grand Prix. It was a big birthday for me, and I wanted to do something special. But, given that my plans involved more than just a plane ticket and a hotel reservation, I knew I would need some help planning it. So, I started asking around about travel agents, and I got 4 recommendations. I called three of them, including one that is a well-known national organization. None of these three returned my call.
For the fourth one, I went to their store. I explained to the agent what we wanted, specifically saying that we did not want a motorcoach tour, that we wanted to stay in one hotel in London, and take day trips from there, one of which would be to the race.
This agent immediately started pulling out catalogs for Trafalgar and Globus motorcoach tours- in other words the very thing that I specifically said I did not want.
At that point I started realizing that there is a need in this industry. And, it was very clear what these four agents taught me about what not to do. And given that I love to travel, I love planning travel, and I was starting to think about life after my then current career, I started formulating a plan to develop a second career as a travel agent. And I started developing the values that would drive my business.
Listen to You First
I make it a point to listen to you, to find out where you want to go, what you want to do, and most importantly, why you want to do it.
Pay Attention to the Details
After a lifetime in Finance and Logistics work, it is ingrained in me to know and track every detail. When I am planning your trip, I imagine myself on that trip. When will you arrive? How long will it take to clear customs? How will you get to the next place?
I can tell you, and people who have traveled based on my plans can probably vouch for this, the most stressful time for me about your trip is when you actually depart for the trip. Why? Because there are so many things going on at that time that I cannot control, and I have to be able to react to those contingencies.
The Experience is Paramount
My assumption is that you are traveling for a purpose. Furthermore, your purpose is not to withdraw from the world, but rather to become more connected to it. So, I will do everything to help you make that connection. I will recommend activities, transportation and accommodations based on that assumption.
One part of enhancing that experience is where you will stay on your trip. I pay particular attention to the customer and amenity ratings for the places I recommend. This can mean that my recommendation is not the least expensive place to stay.
But there are two things to consider. First, the higher rated accommodations will be in more desirable locations. Second, while you may not come back from your trip remembering how fantastic a hotel was, you will definitely remember the hotels that were not up to standard (like the hotel we stayed at in Galway where the plumbing was so bad, we had to have someone from the front desk show us the trick to flush the toilet).
Honesty and Integrity
Getting back to being detail-oriented. If there is something in the trip that I believe is not in your best interests, I will make sure you know it. I will not simply arrange something that you want, until I am certain that I have given you all of the information that I have found.
My Commitment Extends Beyond Your Return
I am here for you before your trip, during your trip and after your trip. I recently had a couple on a trip that could not find their local guide. I reviewed the situation and got an answer back to them as soon as possible. I had another client that wanted to adjust their hotel stay during their trip. No problem. We got it resolved in a couple of hours.
And, when you return, I will ask you to meet with me again, so that I can make the next trip for you, or someone else going where you went, better.