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  • Writer's pictureRose@WhereToGoTravelCo

What to Look for when Hiring a Travel Advisor

In the vast sea of travel options, navigating the waters to find the perfect vacation experience can be overwhelming. This is where a knowledgeable Travel Advisor can make all the difference.

But how do you ensure you're choosing the right one? Here are some key factors to consider when hiring an Advisor:

1. Member of ASTA

Look for a travel advisor who is a member of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry, and the traveler. They champion ethical and traveler-friendly practices and policies at every level of governent.

ASTA offers professional development resources in the way of online courses, articles, and hosted travel opportunities. They also offer career training and certification. Membership signifies a commitment to professionalism, ethical conduct, and ongoing education in the travel industry. Look for the ASTA logo on their website!

2. Planning Fees: Understanding the Fee Structure

Every travel agency operates differently, with some charging planning fees and others not. Regardless of whether fees are charged, all agencies still earn a commission from suppliers after their clients travel. This commission is a crucial part of our business model and comes from the suppliers we work with.

So, why do some agencies charge a fee? The answer lies in the risks and the extensive work involved in crafting personalized itineraries. When we invest time and effort into understanding your preferences and designing custom travel plans, there's a risk involved if the trip doesn't materialize. Additionally, many of the services we provide may go unnoticed by clients, yet they require significant time and expertise on our part.

Understanding the fee structure of your potential advisor upfront is essential for finding the right fit. At Where To Go Travel Co, we typically do not charge planning fees for all-inclusive resorts, cruises, or prepackaged tours. However, for customized independent travel that requires intricate planning and time investment, we charge a planning fee starting at $249 before we go to work designing your trip.

By being transparent about our fee structure and the value of our services, we aim to ensure that our clients feel confident and well-informed as they embark on their travel adventures with us.

3. Trip Payments

While your planning fee will go directly to your Advisor or agency, ensure that your trip payments are directed straight to the suppliers or wholesalers, bypassing the agency's accounts. For example, if you're booking a cruise with Disney Cruise Line, your bank statement should reflect payment to Disney Travel Company, not the travel agency. It's important to note that travel agencies should not be funneling money through their own accounts, as this practice can raise concerns and may indicate potential issues.

There is an exception to this rule: if the advisor works with a Destination Management Company (DMC). In some cases, payments might be routed through the agency, particularly if the DMC is located outside the US and only accepts wire transfers. However, such occurrences are rare.

4. Training

Continuous education is paramount in the ever-evolving landscape of travel. A reputable travel advisor invests in ongoing training opportunities to stay abreast of the latest trends, destinations, and brands. Training for us involves courses, webinars, and what we call FAM (short for familiarization) trips.

At Where To Go Travel Co, we prioritize professional development, ensuring that our team is well-equipped to curate unforgettable experiences for our clients.

5. Specialization

Consider what your prospective travel advisor specializes in and whether it aligns with your travel preferences. What exactly are you seeking in an advisor? Do you prioritize organization and clear communication for seamless trip logistics? Are you looking for someone experienced in curating luxury experiences, understanding the needs of discerning travelers? Or perhaps you're in search of an advisor to help you find the best deals within your budget?

At Where To Go Travel Co, we specialize in crafting bespoke experiences tailored to the preferences of discerning travelers who value luxury and personalized service. Our focus centers on providing 4-5 star accommodations, private transportation, and concierge services to elevate your travel experience. If your primary objective is to find the cheapest travel option available, we may not be the best fit for you, and that's perfectly okay. It's essential to find an advisor whose specialization aligns with your travel style and preferences.

6. Relationships

While it may not always be apparent to consumers, the travel industry thrives on relationships. One of the most significant advantages of working with a travel advisor is their ability to unlock exclusive opportunities and perks that you won't find through online booking platforms. This is made possible through the strong relationships they cultivate with suppliers, consortia, and in-destination partners. It's truly the secret sauce!

By aligning themselves with reputable suppliers and being part of established consortia, travel advisors gain access to special amenities, upgrades, and insider knowledge that can elevate your travel experience. Whether it's securing coveted reservations at top-rated restaurants or arranging private tours of iconic landmarks, these relationships enable travel advisors to provide their clients with unparalleled access and benefits.

Moreover, building strong relationships with in-destination partners allows travel advisors to offer personalized recommendations and seamless experiences tailored to your preferences. From arranging unique cultural experiences to providing insider tips on hidden gems off the beaten path, these local connections ensure that every aspect of your journey is curated to perfection.

7. Communication and Accessibility

Effective communication is key to a successful partnership between you and your travel advisor. Look for an advisor who is responsive, attentive, and communicates clearly throughout the planning process. They should be readily available to address any questions or concerns you may have and provide timely updates on your itinerary.

This doesn't mean that your Advisor is available to you every minute, all hours of the day! When it comes down to it, we do keep office hours and have families and personal lives. We also spend a LOT of time on the phone with our suppliers during the day. We're not always available to take a call, but will get back to you as soon as we can. We do however, prioritize our clients that are currently traveling and are available to assist with emergencies and plan disruptions.

8. Personalized Service

A great travel advisor goes beyond simply booking your trip; they take the time to understand your individual preferences, interests, and travel style. By doing so, they can tailor their recommendations and itinerary suggestions to align perfectly with your unique needs, ensuring that every aspect of your journey reflects your personal tastes and desires.

Moreover, personalized service extends beyond the booking process. A top-notch advisor will continue to support you throughout your travel experience by communicating important deadlines, such as payment due dates, reservation deadlines, and excursion booking windows. They will proactively provide you with essential information to ensure that your journey is smooth and stress-free, addressing your questions and concerns before they even arise.

9. Attention to Detail

The devil is in the details, as they say, and a meticulous attention to detail is a hallmark of a reputable travel advisor. From coordinating transportation and accommodations to arranging dining reservations and excursions, they should handle every aspect of your trip with precision and care.

10. Problem-Solving Skills

Travel doesn't always go according to plan, and a skilled travel advisor excels at navigating unforeseen challenges and resolving issues efficiently. Look for an advisor who is resourceful, proactive, and adept at finding creative solutions to any hiccups that may arise during your travels.

11. Value-Added Services

Beyond just booking flights and accommodations, a top-notch travel advisor offers value-added services that enhance your overall experience. This could include insider tips on local attractions, restaurant recommendations, special event bookings, or exclusive access to unique experiences.

12. Trust and Transparency

Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and it's essential to work with a travel advisor who prioritizes transparency and integrity. They should be trustworthy stewards of your personal information and financial transactions and use secure means to collect and store that information.

By considering these factors, you can ensure that you're working with a travel advisor who not only meets but exceeds your expectations, providing you with a seamless and unforgettable travel experience from start to finish.

At Where To Go Travel Co, we are dedicated to providing personalized service and creating unforgettable memories for our clients. Reach out today to begin planning your next adventure!

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