It can be scary to be thinking about whether you should start planning travel. With the Coronavirus Pandemic causing travel cancellations all over the world and in every type of travel, travel agents have learned some very valuable lessons (on our own and from other travel agents). If you were lucky enough to not have a trip planned during this shut down, then you might not realize that travel agents worked to get people home, calling airlines and getting flights rebooked, and worked to rebook or get refunds for trips that couldn’t happen, and worked through the complexities of using, reducing or moving travel insurance. Right now it is more important than ever to work with a Travel Agent to plan your next vacation.
A travel agent is the ultimate “safety net” for your travel needs. As a travel agent, I would work with you to help you plan a vacation that is personalized to your specific definition of perfect. And if you need travel insurance, I could give you quotes for different plans according to your needs. (Did you know that you can add car rental insurance or special insurance if you need to cancel your trip because you have to work?) Then while you’re on your trip, if any issues arise, I could help sort them out for you.
Working with a travel agent to start planning travel now allows you to discuss your unique concerns and gain confidence from my experience, knowledge and connections.
Top 5 reasons to use a Travel Agent in light of the recent pandemic:
1) Travel Agents are professional travel advisors.
That means I have contacts, training, current knowledge and support that the average person doesn’t have access to.
- Contacts – For most travel companies that I use, there is one person who is my dedicated go-to person for any questions or issues. Their job is to help me succeed. So, for example, at Princess, Globus, or Sandals, I have a dedicated phone number and email that I can call or write. For companies that don’t provide a specific person for me to talk to, I have a priority phone line and access to dedicated departments. I also have access to a travel agent specific webpage that typically has listings of all of the promotions, and another page specific to the coronavirus and policies on upcoming travel.
- Training – When I’m not helping clients, my spare time is spent in training. There is on-line training, live multi-day training (for Alaska, for instance, where many Alaska vendors/suppliers do presentations teaching us about their offerings) and multi-day conferences which are all-day events with 100s of vendors and up to 5 different vendors or experts to choose from for each time-slot. Having face time with these people helps me get to know them and it’s easy to tell which ones love their jobs and the companies they work for. It also gives me an “in” when I need to call and say “Hi, I met you at the  event and my client needs help with .”
- Current Knowledge – Every day I receive emails from all of the suppliers that I sign up for. So if you ask me to watch for a special from Sandals, I can call you when one is available. Or if you write me and ask who has specials in the Caribbean, I can easily look that up for you. These emails also include updates on how their company is handling the coronavirus and who is postponing trips until which date and what alternatives they are offering.
- Support – I am on forums with other travel agents so I can ask specific questions and get almost immediate answers or watch discussions of hot topics. Recently there has been a lot of discussion about which travel insurance companies cover pandemics. Some do, some exclude epidemics & pandemics. (More information below.)
2) Travel Agents will have answers specific to you.
Sure you can ask your questions on forums, but will the answer be specific to your concerns, needs and wants, or will you have to sort through multiple (sometimes snarky) answers to find one that fits your needs? For instance, if you ask if you should go to Disney World or Disneyland, I would ask questions like:
- When do you want to go?
- What else do you want to see and do?
- How old are your kids?
- What is your mode of transportation?
- How much time do you have?
- What is your budget?
- Do you want to travel around and see things or just go to one place?
3) Travel Agents know the destinations.
I have been there (or I know someone who has been there) so I can answer questions like
- What’s the best way to get from the airport to my hotel?
- Is there any area at my destination that is unsafe?
- What are the must-see sights (this again is dependent on you and what is important to you – but a travel agent will know what questions to ask to help you figure out what are your must-see sights)
- Whom should I tip and how much should I tip?
- How much cash should I take?
- What unexpected expenses might I have?
- What to watch out for in terms of ripoffs?
4) Travel Agents work for you.
Many people don’t realize that commission is built into the cost of most vacation items. Or if you just want help planning, then I have a fee schedule on my website. Either way, I work for you. My job is to make sure that you have a wonderful vacation and so that you value my assistance and want me to help you with future vacations and/or you want to refer me to your friends and family.
There are many different areas of your trip that I could help you with. I would give you assistance with travel insurance. I have tools to keep track of all of the pieces of your trip, making sure you don’t miss a final payment or book your flight or car rental for the wrong date. (And if you need to cancel your trip, I would have all of the details in one place.) I would be your advocate if you get to your destination and get a bad room or have an emergency and need help. Or when you get home, if you’ve left something at your hotel, many times the hotel will contact me. If not, I can try to track it down for you. I am your support before, during and after your vacation.
5) Travel Agents have in-depth knowledge of Travel Insurance.
I have access to different insurance companies and know the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of coverage available. If you’re traveling out of the country, you most definitely need travel insurance that covers medical treatments. And if you’re concerned that you might need to cancel your trip or you could have your trip interrupted due to medical reasons (for someone on your trip or a relative at home), then you should get travel insurance.
Travel Insurance covers many things including:
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption
- Emergency transportation
- Baggage loss, damage or delay
So the answer to the question “Is it SAFE to Start Planning Travel Now?” is yes – with a few precautions:
First, you should look into purchasing travel insurance that doesn’t exclude epidemics and second, you should work with a travel agent like me who will have your back.
Here is my blog, which has more detail about why you might need travel insurance and what it covers.
Or if you have more questions you can schedule a chat with me.
I look forward to working with you to start planning your next vacation.
If you are starting to think about a trip in the next year, there are some things you can start doing now. See my blog Countdown to Your Trip.