One of the questions I always get asked is “why would I use a travel agent when I can just book it myself online?” It’s a valid question, and I will try and provide a compelling answer. I have no doubt that the average traveller can go on one of the many online booking sites and find themselves a decent cruise, at a decent price. So what value does a travel advisor provide? There are quite a few really good reasons to use the services of a reputable travel advisor (agent, consultant, professional, counsellor). Let me touch on just three.
The first is time. Imagine you're a family of 4 looking to go away on a Caribbean cruise on March break. You and your spouse both work (according to Statistics Canada this was 69.4% of Canadian households in 2015). The kids are involved in some after-school activities. Your daughter plays rep hockey, and your son is a swimmer. Studies show that 70% of vacation decision-makers are women. “I don’t really care honey, you decide,” say most guys. So now Mom has to plan a cruise. Studies also show that people will spend up to 20 or 25 hours planning a vacation. They will utilize upwards of 20 different sites to research and book. So, Mom, you’ve worked a full day; made dinner, picked your son up from practice, and just got in the door at 9:00. Bet your super keen on sitting down on your computer and spending the rest of the night researching your trip! And tomorrow night; and Saturday afternoon; and Sunday night too. Or…..I can do it for you. The choice is yours! So; the first service I provide is giving you back your precious time.
If you were to go online to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line web page and search sailing dates for March break 2020 to the Caribbean, you will find no less than about 220 different cruises, on different ships, leaving from 7 different departure ports. On each ship, you can have upwards of 30 different kinds of cabins (Oasis Class), visiting too many islands to count. Don't forget the multitude of activities offered at every port you stop at. So, overwhelmed yet? Travel advisors are experts on all of these options. We do it for a living, and within our profession, there are advisors (like myself) that only work in the cruise segment. We can cut through all of the options, once we know what you, the client, wants. And this is a critical differentiator between the kind of advisor you want to deal with and the kind you probably don't. It's also a differentiator between dealing with a professional and dealing with the algorithms on a web page. Good advisors take the time, at the very beginning of the process, to ask all the right questions; to 'qualify' their clients. The more we know about you, the better 'picture' we have of what kind of experiences would appeal to you. What kind of trip would be an amazing trip? When you are spending your hard-earned dollars on a vacation, you sure as heck want more than just ok! When was the last time a web page asked you whether you're the kind of traveller that enjoys the smaller, more intimate ship-board ambience, or the crazy, exciting action-packed experience on one of the biggest ships afloat? The second service I provide is expertise!
I strongly feel that people want to do business with people. It's how we're wired. People do business with people that they know, they like, and they trust. We all want to have our favourite butcher, and hairstylist, and fitness instructor, and mechanic, etc. It's no different with travelling. Imagine the feeling knowing that you just have to pick up the phone, or send an email and say 'Hey Jim, I think this year we want to do a European river cruise'. A few days later, I'm sending you some really appealing options to look through, and you pick the one you like best. I do all the research, all the booking, and all the invoicing. I know you. I know what you like, and don't like, and I take good care of you because we have a relationship. You're not just a sale to me. You are a valued client of mine, and I know that if I don't take good care of you, I will lose you. And you know what?
Whether you book online yourself (after the requisite frustration, keyboard pounding, and cursing), or let me do all the heavy lifting; the price is the same. You read correctly. You don't pay me. The cruise lines do. Same price. Lot's of value-added. Is that compelling enough?
So I've talked about three reasons that make travel advisors valuable. Planning a trip is just too complicated now. There are too many options and too many choices, and you would rather spend your time doing other things. That's where I'm here to help. Visit www.farandawaytravel.ca and let's get to know each other!
James Hill, Owner/Cruise Counsellor