You and the gang have (mostly) settled on the subject: You’re taking a group vacation. That’s great! When it comes to an adventure away from home, the more the merrier. But from there, the details get a little murky. How do you nail down the itinerary of everyone’s dreams? What’s the plan for finding vacation perfection?
Group vacations, whether they’re multi-generational family trips or college spring breaks, come with a host of unique challenges. Luckily enough, travel agents have the solutions. But, just as you wouldn’t try to run a marathon in snow shoes, providing your travel agent with all the wrong information simply isn’t the right way to do things. For an in-their-shoes consideration of how to best help your travel agent help you, here’s a collection of insights from industry insiders.
Before Talking to an Agent
Before talking to an agent, it helps immensely to narrow down your vacation possibilities as best you can. You don’t need to know how you want to spend every moment of every day, but just have a general idea of where you’d like to head or what you’d like to do on vacation. Researching the right subject is equally critical: It’s far easier to get a sense of a good agency to work with than it is to attempt to learn everything you can about a destination. Leave that to the professionals.
“Dreaming and planning often happens before they consider an agent. The change happens when they need to start booking. Online purchasing can be very confusing, especially with airfare.” – Eva Braiman, Travel Leaders Group
Your First Conversation with Your Agent
When you do finally call an agent, be ready to hit the ground running. After all, their job is to make your vacation a reality, not to pitch a fantasy for years on end. Chances are they’ll have a set of tailored and targeted questions to whittle down the possibilities for you. Before speaking with an agent, it’s ideal to know your answers to these following questions.
- What occasion are you traveling for?
- How many people are traveling?
- Do you have any kids? What are their ages?
- What destination do you have in mind?
- What research have you done already?
- Have you worked with other travel agents?
- What’s your timeline to booking this?
- What’s your budget for booking this?
- Where have you traveled before?
- What do you like to do?
"I think today’s starting point needs to be at a level of granularity that speaks to who they are as a person and aligns to their basic interests.” – Ninan Chacko, Travel Leaders Group
Working with Your Agent Through the Process
When it comes to vacation planning, having “too many cooks in the kitchen” is disastrous. Designate one person from your group to communicate with the travel agent. Before the initial call with the agent, it would be wise to have the group locked into agreement on most of the subjects—like what kind of trip it is. From there, let your agent work. Their expertise and professional relationships with suppliers translate to a whole host of goodies you couldn’t enjoy if you were attempting to book on your own. But, letting them do their job does not mean forgetting about them for weeks at a time. As with any successful partnership, communication is key.
“Sometimes it falls apart when they have multiple people in the picture and competing ideas. The ideal situation is when I talk to them and they're excited. I’m talking to one person who knows what they want, they already want to talk to an agent, they have a budget per person.” – Matt Reich, Cruise Specialists
Things to Consider if the Shoe was on the Other Foot
Just as you yourself have hang-ups and gripes and bad days in your day-to-day life, travel agents have the same in their profession. Knowing what makes a good client for a travel agent means your travel agent is going to be far keener to work with you—which means your vacation is going to be degrees closer to perfection. For the best way to get the best out of your travel agent, consider being the best version of yourself. Be knowledgeable on what you and your group want and already have a destination narrowed down—the travel agent can take it from there.
“The ones that get back to you right away or talk about more than just what the room is, they are a lot more serious. The ones that just want an upgrade or the best price are the ones I don't want to spend my time on.” – Vicky Mathisen, Vacation.com
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about your upcoming group vacation? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts to match you with an expert travel agent, who can customize the dream itinerary that you deserve.