Don’t stress out about planning your luxury vacation. Consult an expert travel agent who can work out all the details while you dream about a trip to that exotic tropical island in the South Pacific; your visit to the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival; or that secluded, once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventure in Patagonia. The world is yours when you work with a travel agent, but there are a few things you should know. In preparation for your initial conversation with a travel agent, we pulled together 10 questions that most travel agents will ask you. Your response to these questions will help a travel agent cleverly craft a customized itinerary based on your travel passions, budget and lifestyle.
1. Where do you want to go?
We’ve all been there where we can never quickly decide on exactly where to go. The saying, “Too many places, too little time” rings true for most avid travelers. It’s helpful to come prepared so that our on-call travel experts know how to match you with the right travel specialist. “The ideal booking scenario is when a customer is knowledgeable and has a destination narrowed down,” says Mario Nicholas, Director of Sales and Operations, for Vacation. “They (customers) are matched with an agent that not only knows the destination but is also familiar with the level of travel and lifestyle the customer is accustomed to.” The more familiar you are with your vacation destination(s), the less time is consumed in the initial conversation with a travel agent, so you both can discuss more important details to make your trip unforgettable.
2. When are you traveling?
This is a crucial piece of the trip-planning process. A travel agent will need to know the specific time and or dates you want to travel to a specific destination. This will help inform your travel agent on whether it’s the ideal time to travel to a specific part of the world or if there are other options to help improve your experience while visiting. For example, outdoor enthusiasts planning a safari in Tanzania and Kenya to see the Great Migration usually flock to this area in June and July, which is during peak tourist season. An expert travel agent can inform you on when to avoid crowds to witness this grand event, or better yet, offer exclusive experiences such as a personal tour of Serengeti National Park with a private guide during shoulder season. At the very least, it’s important to let your travel agent know the month and year you plan to travel. Get the most out of your vacation by consulting a travel agent who can provide you with amazing, luxury experiences.
3. Are you celebrating a special occasion?
Before you consult a travel agent, you should make sure you have an idea of what type of trip you’re planning. Is it an 8-day luxury river cruise along Danube (from Budapest to Nuremberg) to celebrate your 50th birthday, or an adventurous trek to Machu Picchu with a group of friends to witness the awe-inspiring beauty along the Inca Trail in Peru; or a dream destination wedding or honeymoon at a beachfront resort in the Maldives. Be prepared to offer your specific requests to help a travel agent tailor your trip itinerary not only based on how you travel, but also based on a special occasion or celebration.
4. How many people are traveling with you?
The number of people traveling with you is important information for a travel agent. From a solo traveler to a multi-generational family vacation, the size of your group can directly affect how a travel agent customizes your itinerary. Arranging a romantic couple’s getaway to Paris is very different from arranging a family trip to the City of Light. So, a headcount is essential. In some cases, knowing the number of people traveling with you can also open up a variety of exclusive perks, including free room upgrades and vouchers for on-site luxe amenities or white-glove services.
5. Do you have any specific things you want to see and do to make this your ideal trip?
If you’ve already thought ahead and know exactly where you’re going, you may have already come up with a few things you want to see and do while visiting a dream vacation destination. Travel agents can be extremely helpful in making arrangement to attend special events or unique festivals such as like the Yee Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand; the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain; the colorful Holi Festival in Delhi, India; or the world-renowned Formula One in Monte Carlo. And even if it’s not for a grand event, you may want to consider providing your travel specialist with fun things you want to do during your trip: take a cooking class with a local celebrity chef in Paris; go kayaking on Lake Como ending in a sunset toast; or spending the day walking along the Great Wall of China. Travel agents pay special attention to details to make sure they create an itinerary that uniquely fits your travel personality. Providing them with additional info, about what you’d like to see and do, will only make your experience better.
6. Any restrictions/special accommodations we should consider when planning your trip?
Travel agents want to make sure you’re living your best life while on vacation. So, it’s not uncommon for them to ask if there are special requirements necessary when you’re traveling, whether it’s a hotel or planning for an exclusive excursion. It’s important to let them know if you have special needs or requests to make your travel experience as comfortable as possible. Provide information about anything you think is essential to your trip, such as wheelchair accessible accommodations or dietary restrictions for meals served on your first-class flight.
7. What is your total budget for this trip?
Sometimes we dream about our dream luxury vacation, but often we forget the reality of how much it will cost. We’ve all been there before. Our perception about how much something will cost eludes us when we’re in dream mode. Before speaking with a travel agent, it’s a good idea to know approximately how much you plan to spend on your trip. That allows you and your travel agent to set realistic expectations. Spending $5,000 or $10,000+ can be the difference between a family vacation of 4 to see the 4 Disney Parks and Universal Studios for 5 nights and a 15-day family trip to visit Australia and New Zealand. Realistically, determine your budget range: $3500-5,000, $5,000-10,000, $10,000-$15,000, etc. – you get the point. “You can’t do Bora Bora for $3,000, but we can expand the conversation to talk about other beach or island destinations,” says Lori Randle, a Minnesota-based travel agent for Vacation. Remember that working within your budget is essential to a travel agent who can manage your expectations, but also provide you with the vacation you deserve.
8. Where are you in the trip-planning process?
Our travel agents will ask this question to gauge what stage in the trip-planning process you are so they can better assist you. There are 3 basic stages. Are you just dreaming about your luxury vacation, but you need a travel agent to help you lock down a specific destination? Have you already decided on a specific destination, but you just need additional help with ideas and details? Do you know exactly where you’re going, but you just need a travel agent to help take care of all the logistics? If you answered “yes” to one of those 3 questions, then just make sure you explain to a travel agent exactly which stage you’re at right now. This will help you and your travel agent manage your time wisely so that every minute is spent on finding the perfect vacation based on your budget, lifestyle and interests.
9. What days and times are you usually available to speak with a travel agent?
Make the process of working with a travel agent easier by providing a specific day(s) and time(s) that you can be reached. This allows a travel agent to quickly have their questions answered at a time you don’t feel rushed because you’re at work or on your way to pick up the kids at school. Remember a travel agent’s job is to save you the extra legwork of planning your luxury vacation so all you have to worry about is what you need to pack for the beach, a formal dinner or a scenic culinary tour.
10. What’s the best way to contact you for an immediate response?
Your cell phone number, your work phone number or personal email address? Always provide a preferred way for a travel agent to contact you immediately to help lockdown the details of your dream vacation. Sometimes timing is everything, and travel agents may be able to offer luxury experiences or amenities that require an immediate response from you. A straight line of communication is essential to ensure the trip-planning process runs smoothly and to ensure that it’s a stress-free effort for everyone involved.
Let one of our on-call travel experts match you with a travel agent, who can customize the dream luxury vacation that you deserve.