Travelers, particularly luxury travelers have so many options today, it can be bit overwhelming. For people with the means to travel, the world is their oyster.
Despite the ease of buying airline tickets or booking hotel rooms online, there is more of a need than ever to find that expert advice to help you plan a perfect trip. Sometimes, having too many options is just as bad as not having enough; one can feel paralyzed. That’s where having a trusted travel adviser comes in handy.
For many well-heeled travelers, time is more essential than money. They may have enough money to do anything they want, but time? That is a different story.
4 Benefits of Having Great Luxury Travel Agents
Luxury travelers and smart travelers in general know the value of paying an expert to make all their trip arrangements. Not only does it save them a great amount of time, but they also get a better overall experience as well. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the four most important things that luxury travelers want from their travel agents. We've also written about the characteristics of a great travel agent.
1. Great Value
When luxury travelers go places, they are looking for great value too, just like the budget traveler. However, the issue of value or value for money is often too narrowly defined when people talk about planning trips. Value for money doesn’t have to mean cheap or the lowest price possible.
For example if you went to the dollar store to buy a wrench and it broke the first time you used it (this actually happened to me once), even though it only cost 99 cents, it was of no value whatsoever, despite the cheap price. In fact it had negative value, because now I had to go to the store twice and I paid for two tools when I only need one!
Similarly, if you buy a Greyhound ticket to go from New York to Florida, that might be the cheapest fare you could find. However, that trip could take 2 days and leave you extremely uncomfortable and fatigued. Even if you’re saving money, you didn’t find much value in it. There were probably other options like a flight that would have cost more, but offered much more value in return.
On the other end of the spectrum, a company might consider buying a private jet for a million dollars. Given all the other things you could buy for a million, and considering all the additional costs that jet ownership entails, that might not seem like a great value. However, if having that jet allows the company to increase its sales by several million dollars because of its tremendous convenience, then that million dollars is providing great value for the money!
In the same light, luxury travelers are looking for the best value for money from their travel agent when they travel. They may want to go to the South of France, stay at the Ritz and be driven around in a Rolls Royce. All of these things are going to cost top dollar. For the traveler, the cost may be worth it due to the fabulous experience they are going to have. However, their agent may be able to use their leverage to get a price on these items that the individual would never be able to get on their own. The travel agent may be able to secure even more terrific upgrades like extra free nights, an upgrade to a better room, or even a free spa day because of the total package that they are booking. That’s where the real added value comes into play.
2. Convenience and Concierge Service
Luxury travelers love to use travel agents because of the time savings involved. Why spend weeks trying to plan your next African Safari trip when you can pay someone to do that for you?
Travel agents don’t work for free, so there would be a commission involved, but for many people the trade off is worth it because their time is more valuable and, relatively speaking, the commission is not going to change the economics of that trip.
Through a combination of finding lower fares, especially, exclusive unpublished rates that consumers don’t know about, and getting special upgrade deals through their connections, a good travel agent will more than pay for themselves.
Another significant advantage to using a travel agent, especially the higher end ones is that your services don’t end when your trip is booked. Travel agents can still be helpful while you are on your trip. Perhaps there’s been flight cancellations due to weather or some kind of disruption to spoil your plans, like a political crisis in the country you were planning on visiting.
Instead of calling it a day, your trusted travel adviser will be able switch flights or hotels for you last minute. I’ve even heard of agents re-booking a trip to a different county on the same day, when a client’s original plans to go overseas were ruined. That would be almost impossible for someone to do on their own while they’re stranded at the airport and highly stressed out.
Another simple way travel agents can help is by streamlining your trip to make it efficient. With their experience navigating the maze of airline booking, agents are often able to optimize a client’s trip so that they have the most direct flights, at the best times, with the shortest layovers and finding the best ground transportation when they land.
Then there’s the concierge aspect to using a high end travel service. Let’s say you’re already on your trip and at the last minute to decide to add new activities, like catching a sold out Broadway show, or renting a beach cottage at the last minute. Your agent can get to work on those requests right away, and probably come up with tickets or find openings that were not available to the general public. Many companies like hotels and theaters will keep a certain amount of rooms or seats available only to their best customers, who are often top travel agents or agencies.
3. Custom Trip Planning and Personalized Itineraries
Another service that luxury travelers want from their travel agents is custom trip planning and personalized itineraries. What I mean by that is for driven career people, not only do they not have the time to plan out a large trip or vacation, but they may not even know what they want or what they’re looking for. All they know is that they have managed to get some time off, and they just want to go somewhere nice, someplace new and have a great time.
They could really use the service of an experienced travel adviser to present different options to them and help them make a decision. A person who hasn’t traveled much recently isn’t going to be up to date on the latest restaurants and museums to visit. They won’t be familiar with all the great new hotels that have opened recently, and they may not know about the latest charter fishing service out of South Florida even though this person has wanted to take a fishing trip for a long time! This is where the travel agent can really shine by suggesting options that they know the client will enjoy.
Another example would be a family planning a beach vacation in Central America. A couple may have gone to the Yucatan on their honeymoon before and loved the beach, but they may also want to add cultural enrichment to the trip this time, for the benefit of their children in their growing family. A good travel agent would be all over that, perhaps arranging a private tour with a well-regarded archaeologist to give a historical account of the Mayan ruins, as well as arranging an extra two week stay for the children to learn Spanish at a local language school.
These are examples of the value that can be added by an experienced and caring travel agent. Just the type of service that luxury travelers would want from their travel planners.
4. A Personal Relationship
No matter how many great trips you book online by yourself, the Internet will never get to know you as person. It will never be able to provide the human touch and advice that only a living, breathing travel agent can provide. The best travel agents are looking to build long-term relationships with their clients, not just because it’s good business, but also because once they know you well, they can plan much better and satisfying trip for you and your family.
A good travel agent who has worked with clients for many years, will almost know that person as well as their own spouse. They know what kinds of places to book, where not to, what your likes and dislikes are, and what things to do to delight that person. That’s not something a website could ever do!
Another bonus, the longer you’ve been with a good travel agent, the more valuable you become to them. And you’ll find that loyalty will be reward with the very best deals, upgrades and special promotions the agent can find.
It’s like being in front of the line on the red carpet. You’ll start to get offered wonderful travel opportunities that you might not have even asked for, but which you love because your travel agent knows you so well!
Not everyone can be so lucky to get to do frequent luxury travel and have a top agent working to get the best deals for them. But if you find yourself in that category, all the hard work you have put in over the years can be rewarded by enjoying the finer things in life, and get to do them at a price and convenience that even your best friends will envy.