Why Should You Use A Travel Specialist?

“Without a Travel Agent, You’re on Your Own”

What is the role of the travel agent and how has it changed?
Travel agents work hard on behalf of the consumer. The role of a travel agent is to make a trip – whether for work or pleasure – a stress-free and memorable experience. Travel agents spend time not only booking tickets and searching for affordable prices, but also personalizing their services for individual clients. “Without a Travel Agent, You’re on Your Own,” exemplifies the importance and way professional travel agents view their role in today’s changing market. The job of a travel agent has grown and adapted to reflect the changes within the travel industry and the difference in the way people think about travel. Travel agents recognize that consumers today have done their homework and are more knowledgeable about what they want. Clients who turn to a travel agent desire an in-depth, personal approach and want the advice and expertise of a professional.

In January, the television news magazine, 20/20, reported the results of a test in which travel agents beat consumers at uncovering the best airfares. However, it is much more than the “lowest fare” that provides the compelling argument for a good travel agent.

The best thing an agent can do is to match up a traveler with the vacation that’s right for them. The professional travel consultant builds relationships with their clients to learn their interests and lifestyles, as well as their dispositions.

Below is a list of some of the important services, which are either provided free or for a nominal charge, by travel agents:

1. Distilling the product information: Through an on-going and time-consuming process of familiarization, continuing education and customer feedback, the agent becomes a travel expert.

2. Investigating and supplying competitive information: No single supplier is going to advise a consumer that a better route or a better fare is available on a competing carrier.

3. Staying abreast of the most current and timely promotions: Via daily faxes, agent-only e-mail transmissions, and their relationships with their district sales managers, agents are obtaining the most current promotional information.

4. Analyzing the current promotions: The cheapest is not always the best.

5. Clarifying the fine print, such as cancellation penalties and restrictions: Again, the benefits of a professional’s experience can save a traveler money . . . and headaches.

6. Making recommendations for travel-related options: Travel agents share the experience and knowledge they accumulate about a variety of travel topics – from where to eat, where to shop and what to pack.

7. Simplifying the research and subsequent transaction: Like a personal shopper, agents can provide one-stop shopping for travelers who require air arrangements, rental cars, cruise accommodations and hotel stays – with suggestions that are in the best interest of the client, not the supplier.

8. Enhancing the trip with value-added benefits and amenities: Agents can add to the client’s experience by sending a bottle of wine, providing a special land package, a specific escort or other customer amenities.

9. Using their clout to obtain the best possible in seemingly impossible situations: Whether it’s airline seats, hotel rooms or cruise space, the travel agent has more buying power than the consumer.

10. Getting problems resolved: The agent serves as the consumer’s advocate in the event something inadvertently goes wrong.

What are the benefits of using a travel agent compared to the Internet?
The Internet can be a powerful tool. It can increase the scope and reach of a consumer’s efforts and allow a person to check hundreds of options or research destinations in depth. But to make the Internet work effectively, a person has to understand where to look and what questions to ask, otherwise hours can be wasted surfing the Web and ultimately produce unsatisfactory results. This is where a travel agent can make a world of difference.

A professional travel agent is trained to guide a client through the entire process of planning a trip, whether for business or for leisure. Travel agents take classes, participate in seminars, become destination specialists and join professional associations in order to ensure they make each client’s travel experience as personalized, convenient and memorable as possible. When planning a business trip or family vacation, the Internet can be a valuable resource, but it cannot replace the expertise and guidance of a travel agent. Also, during travel crises, the Internet can’t replace a human being who will persist to help a client get restitution.


Will the Internet replace the need for travel agents?
There are some things technology cannot replicate, and the personal touch is one of them. The Internet is a valuable resource, but it cannot replace the expertise, guidance and personal service of a travel agent. At a time when travelers are stressed out with hectic schedules, travel agents have all of the information at their fingertips, saving valuable hours of surfing on the Web. Agents also can offer insider tips based on personal experience.

With the dozens of online travel sites and the ability to book directly with almost any airline, hotel or other travel service, it would seem that travel agents might go the way of the dinosaurs. The American Society of Travel Agents, though, reports travel agents sell 85 percent of all cruises and 70 percent of all packages and tours, as of 2008. Agents are still in demand, and offer plenty of benefits when you are booking your vacation.

Do travel agents charge service fees? How much? How has this changed? I DO NOT CHARGE A FEE FOR MY SERVICES
Most do charge fees. Since 1998, the number of agencies charging service fees on one or more product line has increased from 64 percent to more than 91% percent in 2009. The most common fee charged is a service fee for airline ticket procurement services. On average, travel agencies charge their customers $36 for providing this service. Agencies also often charge fees for other services such as trip research, Amtrak, car rental and hotel-only reservations.

What percentage of airline tickets, rental cars, cruises and hotel rooms are sold by travel agents?
When it comes to booking travel, travel agents are experienced professionals. Travel agents sell:
85 percent of cruises
70 percent of all tours and packages
50 percent of all airline tickets
30 percent of all hotels
25 percent of all car rentals

Time and Money Savings
Sometimes, spending hours on the computer searching for the best travel deals gets you results — and other times, it just leads to frustration. When you work with a travel agent, she does that legwork, searching out the travel options that best meet your needs and budget. In most cases, travel agents have access to information about rates and routes that average consumer might not have, saving you time and money, even when you consider the agent’s fee. Using a travel agent can also help you score a great deal on a package or promotion. Agents generally receive information and access to promotions from resorts, cruise lines and other travel providers that aren’t available to the general public.

Travel Assistance
You’re en route to a Caribbean cruise a when a snowstorm in Detroit delays your flight in Philadelphia. If you booked your travel through an agent, you can call him to get assistance with rebooking your travel arrangements. When you book through an online travel site, you might not be able to get that level of personalized attention, or you could have trouble finding someone who can help you get where you need to be. If something goes wrong when you arrive at your destination, such as your room is unacceptable or the transportation to the resort never shows up, your travel agent can usually resolve those problems.

Travel Recommendations
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to take a cruise, but you’re not sure which cruise line is best for you or where you want to go. Maybe you want to take the kids to Disney World, but you’re having trouble navigating the endless array of ticket and package options. A travel agent can help. Many travel agents specialize in a particular type of travel, such as cruises, Disney or Europe, and are able to make recommendations and help you plan a trip that meets your needs and budget. Their inside knowledge helps you avoid wasting time and money on the things you’re not interested in, and lets you focus instead on taking the trip.

Perks
Travel agents who book a high volume of trips often have access to perks that you might not be able to get on your own. Whether it’s a room upgrade, a fee waiver or even reservations at a hot resort or on a popular tour, travel agents often add perks into your vacation plan. If you are planning a trip for a special occasion, such as a marriage proposal, a travel agent has access to the resources and people who can help you plan the perfect event.

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Riu Palace Las Americas – Cancun

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Cancun Mexico

One of my favorite places in all the world, Cancun!   Ahhhh, the beaches and ocean and fishes (I love diving) that I call home away from home.   Have even considered relocating to Cancun many times.

This time I got to take my Aunt Mary Ellen, who had only ever been on cruises, never to an all inclusive, and now, she’s a convert to the world of all inclusive vacations.

Cancún (Spanish pronunciation: [kaŋˈkun]) is a coastal city in Mexico‘s easternmost state, Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. As a rapidly growing city with a quickly changing skyline, the estimated population for Cancún is 705,000 in 2010, a 20% increase from the census in 2005. Cancún is located on the Yucatan Channel that separates Mexico from the island of Cuba in the Greater Antilles. The Cancún region is sometimes known as the Mexican Caribbean or the Mayan Riviera.

Cancún is the municipal seat of the Benito Juárez municipality and a world-renowned balneario and tourist resort. The city center is located on the mainland which connects the Nichupté and lagoons to a narrow 7-shaped island where the modern beachfront hotels are located in the tourist centric hotel zone.

RIU Palace Las Americas:

Like being at a Palace  🙂    Just a few from around the resort

This was a personal yacht that was anchored out between Cancun and Isla Mujeres all week.  It was really beautiful all lit up at nite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These were being painted by a finger, yes, a finger, at the resort!

One of the restaurants, during lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chichen Itza, Mayan Ruins

600 AD

encounter with the Maya, at Chichén Itzá. About 120 miles…glory days of the Maya, about 600 AD..Cortes. Unlike Chichén Itzá’s flat jungle …

1000 AD

It is generally believed that the Toltecs invaded Chichen Itza and the Yucatan in about the year 1000 AD, conquering the Maya and installing new …

Chichen Itza was a center of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya for over 1,000 years. The Sacred Cenote (a large natural well or limestone sink hole) was holy to the ancient Rain God “Chac”.

About 987 the ruler of the Toltec people of central Mexico came here, and with his Maya allies made Chichen Itza the most powerful city in the Yucatan. The ruler called himself “Kukulcan”, the name of the Mesoamerican Feathered Serpent deity (also known as “Quetzalcoatl”) and Chichen Itza became a center for worship of that god as well. More buildings were built here in a mixture of Maya and Toltec styles.

About 1221 the Maya revolted against the rulers of Chichen Itza. The city was not abandoned, but as political power shifted elsewhere it declined and no major new buildings were constructed. Chichen Itza remained a place of pilgrimage for the Maya until it was conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century.

The structures of Chichen Itza were overgrown with jungle and slowly decayed until major archaeological projects began in the 1920s. Since then, more of the ancient structures have been cleared and restored and more and more tourists come to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IK Kil, Cenote

Close to Chichen Itza the “Sacred Blue Cenote”, is a well-type cenote with waterfalls. The lush jungle like environement of hanging vines and waterfalls make it the perfect place to cool down after experiencing the magic of Chichen Itza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adults Only Luxury – Hyatt Zilara Cancun

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Update 12/6/14 to reflect personal photos from Swim Up Suites, see below.

One of my very favorite resorts of all time:   The Adults Only Hyatt Zilara

The amenities are much too many to even list, it just goes on and on, even down to a guy that comes around the pool all day every day and cleans your sunglasses for you, and brings you skewers of frozen grapes!   A 24/7 bakery where you can get lattes and desserts, a 24/7 sports bar with snacks and ping pong and pool, all their meats are cooked in front of you while you watch, several specialty restaurants, a big 32 inch flat screen tv with a woofer on it for sound, which rotates so that you can watch it on the balcony, a huge in room jacuzzi looking out over the ocean, the shower has like 8 shower heads in it including a rain shower, stocked fridge and premium brand liquors in the room, a ‘smart butler’ service for room service, they don’t come in your room, they put it in a door in the wall at your door and turn on a light so you know it’s there, and you reverse that when finished, HUGE beach!  It just goes on and on, I was just amazed even myself.    

This is a FANTASTIC resort.   The amenities are so many it’s almost impossible to mention them all, starting with a massive stretch of beach looking out over gorgeous teal waters and, close to the airport.   A few of the things that fascinated me, and these are only a few, of so many:

A guy that comes around the pool all day every day and cleans your sunglasses for you and brings you skewers of frozen grapes!

A 24/7 bakery where you can get lattes and desserts

A 24/7 sports bar with snacks and ping pong and pool

All their meats are cooked in front of you while you watch

Several specialty restaurants

A big 32 inch flat screen tv with a woofer on it for sound, in each room, which rotates so that you can watch it on the balcony

A huge in room jacuzzi looking out over the ocean

The showers has 6-8 shower heads, including a rain shower

Stocked fridge and premium brand liquors in the room

A ‘smart butler’ service for room service, they don’t come in your room, they put it in a door in the wall at your door and turn on a light so you know it’s there, and you reverse that when finished

It just goes on and on, I was just amazed even myself and I’ve been to Cancun MANY times

Wonderful spa services, and each day they give free samples massages around the pool

Beach Cabana beds all around the pool and the beach, enough for everyone and with some room categories, you get one assigned specifically to you.

This resort has a variety of room categories, including swim up rooms in blocks of 4 and these have their own pools so they don’t have to come into the main pool, unless they want to; Premium Oceanview  and Premium Oceanfront Suites (Double and Kings), as well as Swim Up Suites.  Corner Suites with wrap around balconies, a hammock, table, and chairs on every balcony; and every room looks out over the ocean.  They also have a great pilates area, full state of the art gym, a 5 jacuzzi therapy system, each one designed to stimulate a different body portion; furnishings are incredible!

SWIM UP SUITES:

You get all of the VIP Privileges of the resort, and are one category below the Ambassador Suite. There are a limited number of the Swim Ups and they include everything all of the other categories have, plus top shelf liquors (such as Don Julio), the rain shower and massage shower, plus a steam shower, all of the spa facilities, and more. They also have a WII playstation, bose sound system, Ipod/iPhone dock, flat screen TV, DVD player, munchies, coke products, and more.

You step down from your balcony into your personal, private, heated infinity pool (only shared with 3 other swim ups in your bank of rooms), two chairs and a table in the water on your pedestal, and bartender service.

Here are a few personal photos, please pardon a few personal items in them.

This is the view looking out from the swimups to the resort and beach:

2nd Vanity, closets (in-room safe, ironing board, iron, umbrella, robes and slippers inside)

Looking down into the room from the upper level where the sofa and office is

In room jacuzzi.  When those blinds are open, you look out over the beach and ocean

Looking out the sliding doors.    There’s also a huge hammock on the balcony, and, they will bring you special dinners there.

Also a comfy chair and a personal telescope for star gazing!

Looking up from the lower level

Additional premium brands.    More are in the dispenser in the cabinet.   Also, a personal coffee maker, and, a personal expresso machine

Looking towards the door from the upper level

Rain shower, 4 massaging jets, phone head, and, steam sauna, large enough for two people, with a built in sauna seat.  The window looks out into the room and out to the ocean

iTunes dock, loaded with music already

Looking down the resort from the water

Looking up towards the room from the private pool

Nice little greeting!

Looking down onto your personal pedistal and chairs

View of beach from sitting in your sun chair

They also do a LOT of weddings here, and they take care of everything.

These are my personal photos and video, below.

Infinity Pool

All rooms have a huge jacuzzi and a hammock and furniture on every balcony

A double room, called the Jr. Oceanview Suite

Corner Suite:

Watching this wonderful wedding was so much fun.   They were a really fun group

One of the Beach weddings

Turtle Nests

 

 

 

Getting ready for a private dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 hour pastry-coffee shop

Pelicano’s, by the Ocean!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Reasons Why You Should ALWAYS Use A Travel Specialist

This is a perfect example of what often happens with not using a travel specialist and just looking to save a few dollars…….Travel Specialists are rebounding as more and more people experience that “vacation from …..”, and there are a few like me, who charge no service fees for what all we do for you from the day you start looking for your vacation until the day you are back at home, and on call while you are in destination, and I have clients all over the US, Canada, even Russia. Contact me, I guarantee you’ll be glad you did! 

CLICK HERE FOR STORY AND VIDEO CLIP: