Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why Using a (GREAT) Travel Agent Makes Sense

More than ever, luxury travel consultants like myself need to find ways to sell our clients on the value of our services. We know the public is being inundated with emails, mailers, “twitter-only” deals daily, and unless we have something to offer that sounds better than just a low price, clients may be tempted to simply book direct.

The bottom line: We have so much more to offer clients than just the lowest rate. Our ability to help people wade through all the deals is just one reason they need our help. Case in point: A client came to me asking whether she should book a Bermuda getaway using a time-sensitive hotel promo (in this case, second night free) or if she should go for the $400 credit being offered at participating hotels. After reviewing both deals, she went with the latter since I was also able to get her a confirmed upgrade, daily breakfast, an extra $100 credit and a lunch for two at her property of choice. The first deal was room rate only, with no value added!

Another client called wanting me to find her a “great luxury cruise deal.” We spoke about some of the offers she’d received from the various lines. Turn out one deal is already fully sold out, one of the lines is not really suitable for a family with small kids and one is just too large a ship to suit her husband’s style. For this particular family, an FIT to Europe is a better option and as my client herself says, “There is no way I could possibly plan this on my own. We have no idea where to stay and we definitely want the best private guides.”

It's true, all of the aggressive pricing/promotional deals have definitely stimulated business for many properties and cruise lines. And for me, as I see this as an opportunity to truly prove my worth to my clients. It’s rare than I am unable to match any “deal” they’ve received in their mailbox; I stress to clients they’re best off letting me make the booking for them so that I can ensure the hotel is aware of their arrival, that all special requests are taken care of and that they are VIP’ed throughout their stay.

Often times, once they show me the “cheap” deal they are considering, I counter with something even better—and if not lower-priced, than with more value added. I just call these my “insider secrets.” For clients seeking more than just the cheapest room, these unpublished insider secrets are our best weapon. Once word gets out that not only did I get my clients a great rate at a hotel, but that I also got them breakfast, an upgrade & a free round of golf (valued at $350), it’s amazing how quickly my value is realized.

I always stress my personal relationships with people at the hotels and cruise lines, and my in-depth knowledge of the product. A website may be able to offer a great rate, but it can’t explain why a hotel is not the best choice for any number of reasons (location, noise, small rooms, poor service, dated, etc). These are things only I would know based on a recent visit. Now what website can possibly say that?

For more information or to book your next trip (with our help!), contact elitetravelgal@gmail.com or 310.979.9036.


  1. Hi, Stacy. I just last weekend had the conversation with some travel industry partners about what a poor job we do these days of helping people understand the relevancy and importance of TAs. Thanks for the great post!