The Dos & Don’ts Of Booking a Trip With a Travel Advisor
When you work with a travel advisor, you’re getting a custom-designed vacation to suit your needs, often with the added benefits of insider information about your destination, and even discounts on accommodations and activities.
That said, we travel advisors are human after all, which means there are things we can—and cannot—help you with. Here are the dos and don’ts of booking a trip with a travel advisor.
DO: Consider what kind of trip you want to take before talking to an advisor.
Every traveler is different, so when you work with a travel advisor, don’t assume they can read your mind. Your trip to Cancún is going to look wildly different from someone else’s trip there, so before you expect your advisor to begin planning, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you going with a group or on your own? If you’ll be with a group, what kind? Family? Laid-back friends? A wild bachelor party?
- What do you like to do with your free time? Are you active, or a beach bum? Do you like museums and city centers, or are you an off-the-beaten-path kind of traveler? What kind of food and drinks do you usually go for—street food or fine dining?
- How long is your trip going to be?
- Roughly when will it take place? Is there any flexibility with these dates?<
These questions and more will all inform what your advisor proposes.
DON’T: Expect your advisor to plan a trip without your input.
The best part of working with a travel advisor is building a relationship over time and planning better and better vacations as you get to know one another. And while advisors will do the heavy lifting when it comes to logistics, searching for deals, booking, and communicating with tour operators, airlines, and other transportation operators for you, they still need input along the way.
Think of it this way: There are two three-star resorts in the same area of Jamaica where you want to stay. Both are similarly priced and have most of the amenities you’ve been looking for. But at the end of the day, only you know which of the two you’ll prefer, so your advisor is going to present you with these options and let you have final say.
As your relationship develops, your advisor will very likely become quite adept at predicting your wants and needs, and may even be able to guess which accommodations, tours, and whatnot you prefer—but they’ll always defer to your final decision to guarantee you the vacation of your dreams.
DO: Sketch out your budget before talking to them.
Before speaking to your advisor about your trip, you should have a rough idea of how much you want to spend when all is said and done regarding airfare, accommodations, food/drink, and activities.
Make sure any budget you come up with has wiggle room, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your advisor to ask questions such as: “How much is the average three-star hotel room in the Bahamas?” or “What is the cost of a week-long car rental in Miami?”
Once they’ve addressed any questions you may have, you’ll be able to get a better idea of what you’re looking to spend, which will give your advisor, in turn, a better idea of what tour groups, hotels, and other partners they can talk to about planning your trip.
DON’T: Expect your advisor to work budgetary miracles.
One of the biggest benefits of working with a travel advisor is getting access to impressive deals you otherwise wouldn’t be offered. Advisors work hard to build relationships with tour operators, hotels, airlines, restaurants, and more, so they can give you your dream vacation for an affordable price.
That said, your advisor cannot get you into a five-star hotel for $100 per night, unless perhaps they themselves own the hotel. And last-minute reservations to a hot new restaurant with a six-month waiting list? Not likely. So definitely take advantage of your advisor’s expertise and connections, but don’t expect miracles.
DO: Rely on your advisor for travel tips and cost-saving deals with their partners.
Advisors spend years cultivating relationships in the travel industry, often resulting in exclusive deals and cost savings for their clients. (That’s you!) They also get to know the regions their clients most often visit like the backs of their hands. That means they have insider insights into things such as local culture, shortcuts, hidden spots that haven’t yet been discovered by other tourists, and any other tips that will make your trip easier.
Feel free to ask your advisor: “What kind of clothing should I wear if I’m visiting Punta Cana in February?” or “We really wanted to see the bioluminescent bay in Vieques, is there a good time of year to go so we can avoid crowds?”
DON’T: Sweat the small stuff—your advisor has you covered.
Missed the connecting flight? Van never picked you up for your scheduled tour? Reservations at that swanky restaurant accidentally booked for the wrong time? These things happen, and they’re undoubtedly stressful, especially when you’re far from home.
The beautiful thing about working with a travel advisor, however, is that you don’t have to sweat the small things. You can instead reach out to your advisor and let them know the problem, and they’ll use their industry contacts to come up with a speedy, satisfying solution.