Travel planning can be overwhelming. You know you want to take a vacation – you might even know where you want to go – but you don’t know what to see, where to stay, how much to spend, or even where to begin. What should you do?
Find a travel advisor, of course!
The post-pandemic travel industry is booming. It’s easy to get lost in an online rabbit hole or become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of social media content floating around. Working with a professional is an ideal solution, but how do you find the right one?
Networks and affiliations – Professionalism is key. Look for membership and connections. ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) is the largest association of travel professionals in the world, and membership means your travel advisor has been vetted and mandated to abide by strict rules and codes of conduct. ASTA Member Directory
Membership in a professional network is also important because it’s how travel advisors can provide special perks, such as free breakfasts and room upgrades or amenities.
Virtuoso, the premier luxury network in the travel industry, told Forbes that the hotel benefits that affiliated travel advisors provide their clients can average over $500 per stay. In addition, you can reach out to these professional networks should you have any complaints or concerns. Virtuoso Travel
It’s also a good sign if your travel advisor is certified by The Travel Institute, a world leader in travel industry education and certification. The Travel Institute
Ask for referrals and shop locally – What better way to support your community? Working with a local advisor offers an extra level of service you won’t find with the global agencies. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to meet with them in person or via Zoom to see if they fit your travel style.
Friends and family are a great source of referrals. This can be especially helpful if they’ve worked with an advisor in the past and can share their experience. Don’t be afraid to ask! People love to talk about their travels.
A simple Google search for advisors near you also works.
Interview and ask questions – Your research may turn up several advisors who could fit your needs. That’s great news! Schedule a call with a few and ask lots of questions. You want to make sure they understand your travel style, preferences, needs, and budget. Ask about previous trips they’ve booked that are like yours, what they know about your destination, and even about their own favorite trips.
Communication is critical. You’re looking for an advisor who listens and understands you. Someone who is responsive, proactive, and offers options that best fit your travel plans.
Look at their website and online presence. Is it professional? Does it talk about the services they offer? Is the type of experience you’re looking for included? Are service fees transparent and clearly stated?
Consider specializations – Working with an advisor who specializes in the destination or travel style you like is essential. It gives you the benefit of their unique knowledge of the place as well as their network of travel suppliers, taking the hassle out of having to research and vet a hotel or tour company on your own. Plus, established relationships with local connections and contacts can mean great deals and added perks for you.