I have been in this business over the course of the last 4 years. I have noticed many clients have the same or similar questions about working with a travel advisor. So, I decided to take the opportunity to do a Q and A. Some of those questions and for those of you who maybe curious about my process and how working with TCW can add value to your next vacation.
Working with a Travel Advisor: Q & A
Why should I work with a travel advisor?
My job is not just to design custom itineraries. I also help foster and build relationships with the best travel suppliers in the world. The goal is to bring my clients the best value and experience on their trip. My job is to stay up to date on the lates news in the industry. It’s made even more important during COVID with all of the changing travel restrictions and requirements. I am constantly on the hunt for the coolest and newest travel offerings for my clients. Don’t take my word for it. You can find many resources on the internet about why you should work with a travel professional, including this recent article.
How do travel advisors get paid?
This is the number one question I get as a travel advisor. My income comes from two sources-
- Planning fees paid upfront at the beginning of the design process. These fees range from $150-$500 depending on the length and complexity of the trip. For more info on the packages I offer, you can find those here.
That fee is non refundable and covers my time researching, booking, and troubleshooting while you travel. It also gives you access to my network of the best travel suppliers through my partnership with Virtuoso. If you do not end up booking your trip with me or do not end up going on the trip, I do not get paid in any other way. This fee insures my time is covered. It also means I can choose products that will be the best value to my client. Not just what will make me more in commission.
- Speaking of commissions, that is the other way I as a travel professional get compensated. Every hotel, tour, train ticket, car rental etc that I book, I receive a percentage in commission from that travel supplier. It does not mean that is more of an expense to you. For example, if you go online and see a price for a room at a hotel and then I quote you that same price that is already including not only my commission, but in most cases it is also including all of the amenities and upgrades I get for you through my relationship with the supplier that you as a consumer could not find on your own.
How long does the design process take?
No two trips are a like. Depending on the length and complexity of the trip, I send initial proposals to my clients 5 to 7 day after the planning fee has been paid. For trips further than a year out, I may send a proposal 2 to 3 weeks after our first consultation. It really depends on if prices and availability for the next year are available. For more info on the TCW process you can read this post, which goes into more detail.
Can I make changes to a proposal?
Absolutely! Once you have the chance to look over everything, you and I will talk through any changes that you would like. Keep in mind, if you decide to change destinations, you may be subject to an additional planning fee.
Can I do my own research or send you my family/friends’ suggestions?
During the consultation process, we talk through any initial research you may have conducted on a particular destination. I want know how much my clients have researched and what stuck out to them. This helps me as I create a client profile and is part of getting to know you and what will excite you about a particular place.
However, keep in mind that your friend’s who went to the same destination 5 years ago and gave you their itinerary are not you. They don’t have your same tastes and preferences. They may have had different goals for their trip. This trip is about YOU! No one else. My job is to curate something specific to you and not just copy someone else’s trip. It is also my desire that you trust me to do what I do best, match the right experiences and accommodations to the right client. As well as the experience I have in the travel industry and the relationships I have cultivated with my network of travel suppliers.
Can you book Airbnbs?
No. I am not able to book with Airbnb for my clients. Because of Airbnbs protection policy for their owners, the person staying at the home must be the one who books. I also cannot vet the property to make sure it will be the best value and fit for the client. I do have access to other private home and villa rentals. These have been vetted and if that is what you prefer.
Can you book with my points/miles?
Unfortunately, I can not book your trip with points or mile. I can make sure that when we are booking your trip, all of your memberships and frequent flier numbers are included in the booking. If you have points or miles you need to use, I suggest starting with airfare and booking that using them. If you still have points to use and would like to use them for your hotel stay please keep in mind that by doing so you will not be able to utilize any of the amenities, upgrades or special rate promotions I receive through my travel supplier partnerships.
Do you recommend travel insurance?
Yes! The money you have spent on your†trip is an investment and as such also needs to be protected. With every itinerary, I send you cost estimate for travel insurance so that you know what is available to you to protect your trip. Travel insurance also helps cover any medical needs that may arise while you are traveling. I have had clients that have needed medical care while out of the country and have had to delay their trip by a day because of medical emergencies. You just never know what could happen and it is better to be safe than sorry. In addition, because of COVID many destinations are requiring proof of insurance to cover any medical care or quarantine cost associated with a positive COVID case.
Can my trip invoice itemized?
Not always, each itinerary is packaged to include each element of your trip. Because of my travel suppliers contracts with their in country contacts, they legally can not share the rates available to them. Those are considered confidential so in most cases, I will be presenting you with a package price for your trip. Keep in mind these bulk rates are to the benefit of the traveler giving you the best value for your trip. There are instances where I will put an itinerary together piece by piece and in those instances will be able to give you a cost break down but that is not always the case.
What if I need to cancel my trip?
If you choose to cancel your trip after an initial deposit has been paid, you will be subject to the individual suppliers cancellation policies. Those will all be discussed with you prior to booking. This is also why travel insurance is so important. If you would like to purchase a protection policy that includes cancel for any reason, please let me know so we can price that out for you.
What do I do if something goes wrong while I am on my trip?
I am on hand every step of the way including while you are traveling. I want this to be as seamless and easy as possible so you can enjoy your time away. Should any needs arise, please contact me by phone or email so that I can troubleshoot and fix any problems. I will also give you any in-country contacts (if applicable) for you to contact in the event of an emergency.
What other information do I need before my trip?
About 8 weeks from your trip, I will send you a pdf with tips to prepare you before you leave. Included in that is advice on visas, passports, security, cash and credit cards. Also, cell phone and wifi usage and packing tips. I am also available by phone or email before you leave to answer any other questions you may have.
When will I receive my final documents?
A hard copy and final digital copy of your itinerary will be mailed to you no later than 14 days from departure. I also will send you a link to Axus travel app. You have everything you need on your mobile phone while you are gone. This includes travel documents, city guides, and a messaging system. You have another way to get in touch with me while you are away.