You’re probably aware that some travel agents/advisors claim that their services are completely free and that other travel agents charge fees.
But how much do travel agents charge - and why do we charge at all?
Travel agent fees vary from agency to agency, but to give you a quick idea, you can find a typical range between $100 to $1200 depending on the destination, length of stay and complexity of the itinerary.
In keeping with my honesty and transparency, I feel it’s necessary to have an open discussion about travel agent fees, why Destinations HD charges fees and what you're actually paying for.
In light of the current situation regarding COVID-19, this has been a hot topic and more travel professionals are introducing fees, so I wanted to take this opportunity to help you to understand the reasons why and the role of your travel agent as you begin to book travel in the future.
This is quite lengthy, but there is so much to cover. Grab your cup of coffee - I hope you find this informative and enjoy a glimpse into the agent life...
So, Why do Agents Charge Fees?
Sadly, it is all too common for a person to pick a travel advisors brain, ask us to curate details of trips, call around for quotes and provide complete itineraries, only to have the would-be client take that agents expertise and work and then attempt to “shop around”. This kind of behavior has led many seasoned advisors to implement a Service Fee prior to beginning work on your requested travel plans.
What you might not realize is that 95% of our work is done on the front end of a trip. The service fee is a layer of protection for the advisor to assure that we are paid for the vast amount of effort that is put in and the knowledge that is dispersed – knowledge that has taken years of education, money and training to gather, in order to help travelers around the world enjoy a travel experience that they’ll cherish forever.
Education and Expertise
While there are numerous tourism and travel agent certification programs available, in all honesty, this isn’t the kind of education that you need to pay attention to when you’re looking for a travel advisor.
Many advisors work for large “host agencies” or “big-box” retail locations and these advisors are usually offered client leads based on a rotation schedule within the organization. While the agent may or may not have resources available to them, it is entirely possible that your agent may have limited knowledge, experience, and exposure to the destination and/or experience that you are looking for.
I pride myself on growing Destinations HD to be a specialized agency with affiliations, education, and training all directly related to the niche and destinations that I offer to my clients. To that end, a portion of my service fee supports the countless hours that I have invested in my expertise.
I investigate at least 3 destinations each year for training. During these familiarization trips, I visit 5-8 different properties PER DAY regardless of the weather – and let’s be honest, it is usually hot, humid, and uncomfortable - that is when you aren’t hanging in the pool at these tropical destinations. I pack sturdy and comfortable sandals to try to minimize the pain that will shoot through my feet by the end of each day, and I fall into bed exhausted, but super excited about which of the new properties I visited will be perfect to recommend to my clients when I’m back home.
In addition to familiarization trips, I attend travel conferences, networking groups, training events, webinars, and keep abreast of developing situations in countries that are my areas of expertise, in addition to, paying for top of the line weather alert software so that I can keep a meteorological eye on my clients wherever they might be.
So while it might appear that Destinations HD can recommend a property or a destination at the drop of a hat, be aware that there is extensive education, sacrifice and financial investment involved in having an agent who can speak knowledgeably to you about your travel plans and recommend options that will elicit the experience that you want from your vacation.
So – just as in any service industry – you pay a little for education and experience.
Time is money and that holds true for everyone. This is why many people get paid a salary or an hourly wage – people get paid for the time they work, and Destinations HD charges a fee for a portion of our time and the work that we put into planning and managing your trip.
“But wait! Travel advisors get paid on commission!” I hear you say, and yes, it is true that travel advisors get paid a percentage once travel has been completed.
However, there are a couple of things to note about that:
I’ll delve more into commission later, but for now, let me continue with explaining why you’re paying for my time. Once I’ve had a consultation with you and begun to form an idea of what you want and need from me, I begin working on your travel plans. Being a concierge service, all itineraries and quotes that I present to you, were curated personally for you and your traveling companion(s).
There is no auto-quote button and I don’t allow my team to outsource your quote or itinerary in any way, therefore, everything you receive is hand-picked, personally typed, and wrapped with a palm leaf before it is provided to you. This process takes quite some time, but I created this agency first and foremost to help people realize their travel dreams and to be able to have someone to trust !
Time is also a significant factor when it comes to the following:
Travel Advisor Commission Explained
While I’m spilling industry secrets here, I may as well tell you that the commission structure varies greatly too AND we often get paid far less commission than excepted as some items are exempt from commission altogether.
For example, there is no commission provided for airfare (or it’s very very rare, and very very low). So, although you just purchased $9500 business class airfare through you agent that found you the best flight schedule, unpublished consolidator rates, an amazing schedule that wasn’t available to the public, and will track your flights, schedule changes, call the airline when needed, organize your seat preferences, fill in your rewards numbers, let you know what the airlines new policy regarding masks or temperature checks are – we don’t get paid for any of it.
Additionally many cruise lines and other suppliers have tricks to keep the commission minimal for travel agents – there are terms in the contracts which state that commission is only paid on the “base rate” for example, then the room costs are separated into an itemized list that total the entire room rate that you see and pay for. However, the commission that I get paid only applies to one item - generally the lowest priced segment – and those savings do not translate to you if you book online. You are still paying the same no matter what, but the company simply retains the additional money that would have been paid out to a travel advisor, had you used one.
Unfortunately, many large corporations are not usually out to save YOU money, and would prefer to keep the extra for themselves instead of paying a travel advisor for selling their products.
Tours and excursions are also no guarantee on commission for your travel agent – there are those that we get paid a small commission for and others where we don’t receive any compensation regardless of how much time and effort we put into building the perfect itinerary with days filled with the perfect activities to enrich your experience.
As with the example mentioned earlier, since I am paid an upfront service fee by you, I can confidently recommend the right tour or excursion option tailored to your vision, regardless of what it means for my paycheck – I never have to choose between my integrity and my bills.
I hope you found some valuable insight into our industry. I can keep on going discussing the differences between agency services, but this is already SUPER long, so I won't keep you. Should you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line!
As always, for a free consultation, please reach out and we can begin working together to plan your 2021 and beyond adventures!
Stay positive, safe and hopeful!
While this newsletter may not apply to you, I ask that you share it with those you know who could benefit, as so many couples and their families have been, and continue to be, impacted by the ever-fluid consequences of dealing with a global pandemic during their wedding planning.
Weddings are supposed to be a time when families and friends come together to celebrate the love and union of two people and the bonding of two families. Since weddings are not only a joyous and emotional investment, but often a significant financial investment, I wanted to touch on some things to consider and the options out there for those who have been planning or are considering planning a destination wedding at an international location.
I wanted a Destination Wedding, but didn't mean in Puerto Backyardia!
Unlike the rest of us planning vacations, weddings need to be planned at least a year in advance so “waiting to see what happens” isn’t really an option – which means that action needs to be taken without knowing what could happen or what to expect. Suffice it to say, that itself, is a very daunting thought!
Luckily, human ingenuity and creativity are at their best when faced against difficult odds and this is no exception. We’ve put together a few ideas and options for those nearlyweds who want to stay true to their dream wedding vision while staying safe and keeping at-risk loved ones out of harms way. Read on for more!
So, what to do when you’re torn between a rock and a tropical paradise?
Why Not Both? (my personal favorite!)...
It’s your wedding day! Have it at home and abroad! In this instance, you could proceed with getting legally married at home and having a celebration with loved ones who are unable to make the trip abroad. This would allow you to scale both events to be as large, or as intimate, as you please and will ensure that no one feels left out.
During these last few months I’ve seen couples opt for having their closest loved ones attend a ceremony at local landmarks, or places with special meaning such as the location of the first place the couple kissed or went on a date and then have a simple celebration in their backyard. Other couples have gone the whole nine yards, with extravagant venue, flowers, family in the bridal party who can't travel all celebrating at home, and a celebration after. All my clients are still proceeding to have an additional symbolic and dreamy ceremony with full reception overseas with those who are able to travel. You can have it all if you want!
6 months ago, many of us had never even heard of Zoom, but humans adapt quickly and now everyone from Grandma to your 4 year old nephew are pro’s at utilizing technology to spend much-needed virtual time with loved ones. While many agree that it’s not quite the same as being there in person, we are seeing a growing trend of live-streaming weddings and then celebrating with a small celebration back home.
This is particularly helpful to those who have loved ones who live in different geographical locations and are unable to travel due to health, finances or travel restrictions, which are more and more common in these uncertain times.
The added benefit – you can host a memorable celebration for your anniversary at a time when people are able to travel again (who doesn’t want a bonus party?!)
Gateway to Love...
Another way to get your loved ones that can’t travel involved, is rather than invite THEM to come to YOU, you go to them, and then fly out of the gateway nearest where most of them reside. *If possible to be done safely, this can be extra fun and unique if you host the ceremony at a nearby local or regional airport in an empty hangar!
You can have a lot of fun with this option by going the traditional route and each choosing to stay with different friends/family members and not seeing each other before the ceremony, or you can make waves before you head for the beach, by inviting everyone to share the first step of your journey with you and heading to the town hall to sign the legal documents - or anything else in between! (be sure to check with your local court house first, as some may limit how many people can attend depending on your city).
When the first round of fun is over, you can jet off to paradise with those who can travel and have your dream wedding last for an extra week (or longer!).
Formality First, Group Honeymoon Later
In a similar vein to the above, another option is to go forward with a smaller ceremony and celebration at home, so you can finally get MARRIED (yay!) and have a group getaway at a later date. This has been gaining in popularity over recent years, prior to coronavirus hitting the worlds shores, and for good reason.
Taking this route ensures that you don't put any undue "pressure" on those who for varying reasons will be unable to travel to your destination wedding, but who would be heartbroken if they missed out on seeing you get married.
It also gives guests/attendees additional time for planning, saving, and requesting time off of work as well as giving you extra time for the same things! I'll let you in on a secret - if you plan a group honeymoon, you will still be eligible to receive many of the same perks as if it were an official wedding - so you may as well aim for the stars and still earn free stuff!
Group honeymoon's are a fun way to still create unforgettable moments and celebrate with your favorite people, but without the added stress to organize wedding events for the second time. You can even transfer to another resort after spending time with everyone, so you can enjoy some romantic alone time before heading home!
Remember – where there’s a will, there’s a way! Love will always conquer, and working together while utilizing a little creative license, can ensure that you and your soulmate are able to share your big day with the people who love you most in the world.
Every tradition throughout history was at one point a new idea, and while it might not feel like it now, you are in the unique position of creating both new traditions and history together, with stories that will be passed on down through generations to come!
As always, for a free consultation please reach out and we can begin working together to bring your destination wedding dreams to fruition!
Stay positive, safe and hopeful!
As parts of the world begin their initial phases for re-opening during COVID-19, we are starting to see a glimmer of what hotel and resorts stays could look like as people move forward with vacation plans.
As we touched on in a previous post about what to expect when you travel next, the new normal for accommodations will look a little different than what you’re used to. While certain factors will be similar across the board, each hotel – whether it’s state specific here in the United States, or abiding by country regulations that differ from place to place – will also have their own take on how they are choosing to incorporate safety and sanitation protocols in the future.
With the above in mind, I wanted to give you a heads up about what you might expect in the near future.
- Speedy Check-In? Don't Mind if I do! -
While this won’t necessarily be implemented in every hotel, we’ve received confirmation that a high percentage will be instituting a contactless check-in experience. Your smartphone is going to be used for a lot more than sharing memes and applying filters in the future and it’s not all bad! Contactless check-in in many cases will be done via an app or through a website online and will often allow you to bypass the lobby and head straight to your room!
In cases where that isn’t possible, you’ll find social distancing markers in lobbies and staggered approaches to checking in guests – and I don’t think any of us are going to be unhappy about streamlined check-in processes so that we can get started on our vacay stat!
As you’ve probably anticipated, health screenings are going to be a lot more prevalent in our lives for a while. In addition to airport and customs screenings, many countries and individual hotels are instituting their own health screenings. Depending on the property these could be as simple as filling in a health questionnaire or as cautionary as temperature checks and a visit with an on-site nurse or doctor.
Adjusted Staffing Measures
Visitors and staff on property will all have rigorous sanitization and safety protocols – most often even prior to entering the grounds. Some locations will have completely separate entrances where staff are required to enter via a sanitation tunnel, others are requiring that staff change into uniforms upon arrival at work so that each uniform can be appropriately laundered prior to their next shift and not be exposed to any elements outside of the property.
You’ll also likely view a decrease in staff who enter your room – rather than a butler filling the mini-fridge, a porter bringing extra amenities, etc, all tasks that need to be completed within a guest room will be completed by one staff member – minimizing exposure for both staff and guests. Additionally, staff will likely be required to wear gloves and masks and will be greeting you in contactless ways.
Social Distancing Requirements
As previously mentioned, all locations will be implementing various social distancing measures. Depending on the country that you visit those social distancing measures could be anywhere from 6-10 feet but all destinations and properties have confirmed that social distancing will be required. You’ll find markers in highly trafficked areas of the property and restaurant tables, pool and beach loungers, and gym equipment will all be separated by the appropriate distances required.
Limited Amenities and Services
Building upon our previous prediction that guests could expect to see some services, amenities and activities halted or reduced once travel resumes again, we have received confirmation that that certainly will be the case in many locations.
Depending on the property and service, these will differ – and it’s important to keep in mind that what may be in place when you plan your vacation may not be once you arrive.
A few things seem to be prevalent mostly industry wide such as buffet service either being suspended altogether in favor of a'la carte options or self-service not being an option at buffets – rather, you'll be served by a specific server at each station.
Likewise, restaurants will have a reduced capacity in order to abide by social distancing guidelines and there will be limits on the number of guests who can be seated together. For large groups it will be paramount to plan early and to work with your travel agent in order to arrange for group dining options.
Swim-up bars could be closed entirely or open with restrictions, and on-property watersports, in some locations, are requiring that guests are present while machines are sterilized prior to their use.
Like all of the above, this one is fluid and ever-changing, but we know that this can be a make or break factor for many travelers.
Thus far, there are destinations which will require masks to be worn in all areas that guests congregate together and again, in other destinations, this might not be required and swim up bars may be closed or open with restriction along with water sports and other activities.
While all of this can seem daunting to wrap your head around, for the most part those in the industry who have already begun traveling have nothing but good news to report!
Most of the above changes are allowing for more personalized services to be administered to each guest, and you can rest soundly in the knowledge that cleanliness and hygiene standards have never been higher!
When it comes to planning where you want to go next and understanding the new protocols, my best advice is to reach out so that we can discuss the kind of experience that you're looking for and tailor a vacation to suit your needs.
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
If you are anything like me, your travel bug is getting anxious to explore again! It's been great to see many destinations starting to re-open and accepting tourists again these past few weeks, and I'm looking forward to seeing even more this summer.
As I have started planning new vacations again, there is one thing I noticed trending in regards to the immediate future of vacation planning... You must plan in advance and prepare more than you normally would. Let me take you on a quick imaginative journey of one of these exclusive experiences you must pre-plan, even earlier than before, to guarantee your spot!
Imagine breathtaking views that are still largely untouched by commercialism and not overrun with tourists. Picture mountain views, canyons carved by rushing waters, and stunning landscapes. Now imagine being able to view it all from a world-class train that puts you up close with nature while transporting you in luxury. You can enjoy all this and more with one of the many Rocky Mountaineer luxury train tours.
While this year is a no go for this adventure - there are already limited options for the 2021 season as everyone had to reschedule from their cancelled 2020 trip. They have a short season any how (from late April to October), so you should jump on pre-planning now or you may be stuck with waiting until 2022!
- Travel by Day, Sleep by Night -
One of the biggest problems with many train tours, is that you often end up sleeping through a large portion of your travels. Of course, this means you miss much of the scenery. Perhaps one of the most enticing aspects of the train tours offered by Rocky Mountaineer is that they feature daylight-only train tours so you won’t miss anything along the way!
While you ride in comfort viewing picture-perfect landscapes, you’ll be treated to outstanding service, gourmet meals, complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, sweet and savory snacks, and much more. The train cars give you the best seat possible to discover the wildlife and the surroundings thanks to the glass-dome windows that allow you to take in the sights without obstruction, and without the need to worry about the elements. Then, once the sun goes down, the train will stop and transfer you to a hotel where you can explore the area, before you settle in for a comfortable night of sleep.
There are three (3) main routes offered, but you also have three (3) journeys to choose from to customize the length of your trip. In addition, to deciding the type of journey and route you prefer to take, they also offer two (2) service levels that give you distinct experiences for different budgets, both offering an effortless and unforgettable vacation.
The short journey's range from spending 2-3 days onboard the train before returning to Vancouver. The most popular journey's ranges from 5-9 nights, which can go in reverse order however you choose, from Vancouver and at the other end being in Jasper or Calgary. To see even more of the incredible scenery that the Rocky Mountains has to offer, you can also combine TWO itineraries that allow you to start and end your journey from the same place. These combination tours range from just 6 to 12 nights and is a great way to see it all!
While all those options may seem overwhelming, we make it simple and help you through all the options to determine what is the best for you. Each offers it's own budget, style and inclusions, and it's our job to help you design the most perfect package! Below is a brief overview of the available routes...
Three Rail Routes Available
1). First Passage to the West
This two-day rail journey takes you from the Pacific Coast to Banff Lake Louise along the same route that was traveled more than 125 years ago. Along the way, you will witness mountains and wilderness that remains largely unchanged since those days of the first explorers.
2). Journey through the Clouds
This is another two-day rail journey, on which you will travel through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, with all of nature’s raw beauty on full display. The highlights of this tour include the majestic Mount Robson and the postcard-perfect Pyramid Falls. Stops include Vancouver, Kamloops, and Jasper.
3). Rainforest to Gold Rush
Finally is the three-day rail tour with stops in Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel, and Jasper. This tour will take you from one extreme to another - from the world’s largest temperate rainforest to the arid ranchlands of the historic Cariboo Gold Rush region. Although there’s no gold left, the area is still rich in natural beauty.
Did I Mention the Additional Inclusions?!
From luxury accommodation in the heart of Vancouver, to a rustic inn in a quaint train stop town in the Rockies and the height of indulgence in a lake view room in a chateau overlooking stunning Lake Louise.
- Meals & Drinks Onboard:
Decadent flavors to savor with locally inspired cuisine for breakfasts and lunches as you make your way through the untamed beauty of the wilderness. Dinner and drink options are varied and available to suit every taste and diet.
- Included Adventures:
Go on an ice tour across glaciers, take a skytram across the mountains and even helicopter above some of the most sweeping vistas you'll ever see; all included, all inspiring.
- Travel Host:
Dedicated host that will make your onboard experience as memorable as the journey. You will get to know them like family with the stories they share as they take care of your every need onboard. They will also provide insight on the historic site, flora, fauna and wildlife.
Like so many of you, we here at Destinations HD have been rethinking (and rescheduling!) our vacation plans this summer. The world is re-opening, but as we talked about recently, travel is going to be a little different for a while. So what next? If you aren't comfortable to jet-off to far away destinations with multiple plane trips right now, what can you look to do instead?
The answer that we are excited to share, is small group adventures right here in the USA! When you have grown up here, I think it’s easy to forget how special your own backyard is. (not literally. I think we are all sick to death of our own backyards at this point, am I right?!)
It's a perfect time to get out there and see our beautiful and diverse country with your friends and loved ones, as well as, put some fervor and finance back into the country. Read on below, to learn a little more about what Destinations HD can offer in terms of travel in the United States...
- Home Is Where You Don't Need A Passport -
I know we don't typically sell Continental U.S. vacations, but what you might not realize is we actually do - just in a specialized capacity. We don't plan hotel-only vacations (for a variety of reasons we won't get into here), but we do offer a variety of journeys designed to introduce you to authentic experiences and never-to-be-forgotten sights that you can do independently, or within a small group capacity.
If you and your traveling companions are anything like me, you’re not quite ready to hit the road and figure out how to take care of an RV, but you are chomping at the bit to get out and about. Booking a small group adventure vacation solves both of these problems.
Hit the road with yourself and 6-13 others into a luxury van or small bus with a private driver/guide doing all the legwork! You won’t have to switch drivers, navigate the route yourself, or go without Wi-Fi or cell service in dead zones within your Wi-Fi equipped vehicle, and the best part is you can spend the travel time hanging out together, napping, or sharing your travel adventures on Instagram!
The diversity of options in the U.S. has increased dramatically in recent years, and even more so now with more people looking inward for their 2020/2021 vacation plan. There are a TON of different experiences available from camping trips (with everything provided!), to city and beach explorations, to finally getting out there and enjoying the breadth and beauty of the numerous stunning national parks our country has.
Ever gazed longingly at pictures of clear water in a natural paradise? Let us send you to some of the most pristine lakes in America where you can paddle board while gazing deep into the crystalline depths.
Missing the idea of cocktails poolside in a tropical haven? Hawaii and her sunsets are calling, where you can enjoy craft cocktails with a bit of glam and tan!
Dreaming about quaint fairytale villages in Europe that look like they were pulled straight out of a storybook? California is home to some of the most magical and architecturally charming places that you've probably never heard of!
But if it’s water, water, water you’re after, get down deep into the Grand Canyon and experience white water rafting through this geological wonder, find secret emerald pools and waterfalls only accessible by water, explore gigantic caverns, enjoy a leisurely float on motorized rafts, while enjoying gourmet meals prepared for you riverside, and end it all with some fun and sun in Las Vegas!
Alongside the itinerary options, you can select an All-Inclusive vacay (yep!), you can select a set itinerary, or you can customize an itinerary by adding, reducing, upgrading or downgrading the following.
The United States is your oyster right now and you can choose exactly how you want to devour it! Spread the beauty and culture of this great nation around the world so that when the world is ready, our tourism industry can bounce back and thrive.
We can help each other, our country, the tourism industry and all that it encompasses (hotels, restaurants, national parks, and all those employed within) by staying safe and planning unforgettable small group vacations right here at home!
With so many small group options, it's easy to get your family or close friends together to venture out together and feel more at ease being surrounded by the people you love. What better way to make up for the time you missed together these past few months, than to discover new adventures comfortably as a private group.
When you are ready to start planning your next getaway, just schedule your consultation and we can get the conversation started!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
As the world begins to implement various reopening strategies, so too is the travel industry and we think it’s important to take a look at what travel in the foreseeable might look like.
Although we all want to spring back into things and get back to celebrating, traveling and experience all that this amazing world has to offer, things are not going to be the “same” for a while.
As we prepare each of our clients as best as we can for their adventures going forward, we also want to share with you some new expectations to keep in mind when for your future travel.
Moving forward, travel is going to look a bit different – at this point vendors throughout the industry are beginning to release their new policies and procedures, and we can continue seeing changes as we proceed. Please read on for some things you will most likely expect when you travel next...
- Good Hygiene is the Only Jean That Doesn't Go Out of Style! -
Anticipated Resort Sanitation Protocols:
Properties are increasing their hygiene and sanitation protocols (which, honestly, is a great thing!) You can expect to find new “greetings” other than handshakes and hugs, along with a contactless guest interaction experience. You can anticipate the following (but not limited to):
The measures listed above are going to be implemented in various locales, but are not limited to the above and nor are these measures being implemented in every destination.
It’s important to remember that we are all visitors to these other nations and each company in that destination is at the mercy of whatever new policies, requirements and protocols the governments of each nation and their states decide to implement, in addition to their own personal company guidelines should they feel the need to increase provisions. These are all subject to change at any time and may continue to evolve as the re-openings progress.
None of this means that travel is halted and services will be completely non-existent of course, but it would be smart to plan your travel with the expectation of a different reality – which is not necessarily a bad thing! I think that we can all agree that increased sanitation and hygiene protocols were probably warranted and are a good thing for the health of all of us – after all - good hygiene is the only jean that doesn't go out of style! 😉
On top of that – think about the fact that check-in and check-out will now be far more expedited than ever before and you won’t be crammed onto a beach or pool area with loungers in rows upon rows touching each other or shuttle buses full of people and those are pretty great things to look forward to!
When you are ready to start planning your next getaway, just schedule your consultation and we can get the conversation started!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I know that there are so many of us who won’t be able to celebrate our mother’s, mother figures, and the outstanding father’s who’ve played both Mom and Dad to us, in quite the same way this year.
With travel restrictions slowly lifting however, we can give the Gift of Reconnection in the form of a future travel certificate – and start thinking about the kind of travel that we can safely embark on as we enter our new normal way of life.
For those of us wanting to get back into the world and see new places or different scenery, but who are still wary of jumping right back into the fray of extensive multi-destination trips or mega-resorts, there are a number of smaller boutique and secluded style options available that are ideal to start. Let's explore a few of those today...
- Traveling in the New World as of Today -
Here are a few of my recommendations that may offer you some peace of mind as you start to venture into the new normal travel world.
While we are all excited to travel again and get back into the swing of living our lives and socializing, we understand that part of our new normal will include new and different ways to travel – safely, in a socially conscious manner – and I’m pleased that my boutique agency is able to help offer these alternative options.
Remember, travel will be booking up fast as the world begins to open up again, so even if you’re not sure when you want to make the leap to travel yet, you can absolutely schedule a free consultation to go over your needs and desires to discuss your options sooner rather than later.
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
As you can imagine, I’ve been working 'round the clock recently assisting clients with refunds, rescheduling and cancellations of everything from the quick 4-day getaways to Mexico, to rearranging entire wedding groups, as well as, month-long European adventures.
Throughout these last couple of months, as the situation has continued to evolve, I’ve noticed significant differences in vendor/supplier responses and treatment towards their guests, travel partners and staff members.
As a result, it’s made me appreciate the additional levels of security, protection, and options that are available when choosing to work with vendors that are stable enough to provide most (if not all) components for a lengthy multi-destination adventure versus securing each individual travel component with multi-vendors.
As a small business owner, I strongly believe in supporting the local communities and businesses abroad when I travel, but it’s important to understand that when working with a larger vendor, it doesn’t actually mean that you’re choosing “big business” over small and local.
Quality vendors, partner with locals in the community to ensure that they help the local economies and people, in addition to providing travelers with an immersive local experience.
To this end, I want to shine a spotlight on the “tour” experiences offered for multi-destination vacations. There are still a lot of misconceptions about taking tours, and the most common one is that a tour is squeezing onto a bus with a group of strangers and being driven past sights to snap some pictures before quickly moving on to the next place.
While those kinds of tours do exist and can be the right choice for some, there are a multitude of other ways to take advantage of the tour benefits while maintaining the flexibility of independent travel. You want to ensure that your trip is protected and that you work with the suppliers who have your best interest at heart!
- It's Better to Travel Well, Than to Arrive -
With all that in mind, I wanted to point out a few of the styles and benefits of different tour experience opportunities...
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
I hope you have been staying safe and well during this period of uncertainty we all are sharing! I have been overwhelmed by the kind words and support I've received from so many of my clients about the travel industry and how they can help us.
I know a lot of people have been displaced from their work and income amidst the pandemic, and to see the community unite to support small and local businesses where they can, has been truly inspirational!
I feel so blessed to have amazing clients like you! Since so many of you have reached out asking, I felt like it was a great opportunity to write about all the ways Destinations HD could use your support if you should feel compelled.
- Just a Few Ways You Can Help Destinations HD Endure -
Most of you are aware that I founded, built, and run this boutique travel agency – but what you might not know, is that travel advisors are commission based and that I pay my staff, and all costs associated with the business out of those commissions.
My greatest concern during this crisis has been to ensure that I am there for my clients. For the last month, I have assisted over 250 clients who have been impacted by what’s going on, and there are still many more I'm currently working with. As a travel concierge, I'm not only on your side when making your reservation by providing all the travel tips, tricks, and suggestions for your trip, but I'm also your point person should anything go awry – and it’s safe to say things have definitely gone awry.
I am so pleased to have the resources and network that I have spent a decade building, which has enabled me to assist clients as swiftly as possible during these times. However, as this crisis and worldwide travel restrictions continue, the financial impact to my business can’t be ignored.
To that end, for those that have the inclination, I'd like to share how you can provide support to Destinations HD so that once we get through this, we are able to move forward and thrive stronger than before.
Here are some simple and easy options you can do to show us your support and appreciation!
Thank you so much for your kindness and taking your time to show us your support. Together we can get through anything!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195!
It’s crazy to think that just two weeks ago I was sharing my journey to Africa with you, and now many of us are under "stay at home" orders as we face one of the most widespread pandemics that humanity has ever seen.
While you’re probably overwhelmed with news and updates regarding COVID-19, I wanted to touch on a few things related to your travel – whether you currently have travel booked with us, another agent, or booked on your own.
Sorry it's a little long - there is a lot to go through. Thank you for reading me :)
Here are a few things to consider if you have travel plans currently booked.
Throughout this evolving situation, most all suppliers (airlines, resorts, car rentals, tours, etc) have remained consistent in assisting those who are departing first.
Anyone who is slated to depart after early May are asked to remain patient and wait for the industry to catch up on those departing earlier than you.
There are two benefits to this:
Many personnel are trying to do their job from home amidst the same health concerns the entire world is facing, the only difference is their workload has increased dramatically and they are attempting to complete their duties without access to the same systems they had in the office.
Remember this is a GLOBAL crisis, so trillions of people are in need of assistance at the same time, in addition to you. Unfortunately, this circumstance is unlike anything we have ever seen, and it will take some time, patience and understanding as everyone is adapting to the changes and massive workload. The one consistency across the travel industry is the need to assist those who in order of travel dates - so those who are supposed to be traveling soon can receive help first.
At this time, the people scheduled to travel between now and mid-May may be eligible for credits, and possibly refunds. However, if you are traveling further out than that, the odds are you will still fall under the standard cancellation policies and would need to assume all penalties associated with canceling. This is why it could be in your best interest to hang tight and wait closer to your travel dates and see what the suppliers are offering at that time. Many companies are posting their updated terms on their website, so you can go online to visit your travel suppliers website to view what their most current terms are.
I had some clients asking about cancelling weeks ago and had they done, so they would have lost thousands in payments already made, but as they waited and their travel dates got closer, I was able to secure credits and even refunds, depending on the situation and supplier.
I can honestly say that the industry has been doing a wonderful job of being there for our clients and all they’re asking for is a little patience so they have time to help everyone around the globe.
If you've booked your travel through a travel advisor, you're in luck - we are here to help you navigate terms and conditions, waivers, cancellation policies and be a liaison between you and the different vendors that are coordinated to create your travel package.
Many of you have a number of different components to your packages and my job is to help sort those out - whether it's getting train tickets in Europe refunded, submitting documentation and filling out forms for refunds, or supplying you with alternate tour, cruise, or reservation options for you to use your new credits towards.
Additionally, your travel advisor often has different phone numbers to access suppliers and other connections within the industry that we can reach out to in order to facilitate a resolution and obtain answers to questions that are not readily available. No need for you to sit on hold for 7+ hours or deal with crashing phone systems during a crisis - we alleviate that stress!
I've unfortunately seen a number of people struggling to reach the company they booked through, and in some cases, many travelers have been left with no one to speak to or anyone to help because of devious business practices and simply put, the lack of care and support for you as a client. If you have a good travel agent on your side, you can rest assure that we are doing everything we can to provide you as seamless experience as possible in a situation like this. No one should have to worry about anything but their health, communities and families at this time and if we can help ease our clients' lives right now, we will!
An important fact to bear in mind is that suppliers aren't required to change their policies if the travel can still be completed – terms and conditions are legally binding and the fact that they really are trying to do the right thing throughout this tumultuous and unprecedented time, is commendable.
We are paying very close attention to those companies treating our clients fairly and honorably, so we can move forward after life returns to normal and develop stronger professional relationships with those vendors. You can remain confident that we only work with the best in the industry - and this crisis is a good reminder of the difference in the level of support and service you can receive.
I hope I managed to answer some questions today and was able to convey a little more insight into why it might seem like the travel industry is taking a little longer than preferable to assist with your cancellations or rescheduling.
Rest assured that we are all doing everything in our power to shoulder the burden and help you so that you can spend time with your family knowing that we are diligently working to ensure that you get fair treatment and resolutions.
I began this business over a decade ago because I wanted to help people experience the world through travel and I plan to continue helping my clients - old and new - well after this is over and for many years to come.
Thank you for your support and business over the years! Together we can get through anything!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
*PS* For those quarantined and looking for ways to support small business at home... Please follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and engage with our posts. Conversations are important to the algorithm behind the scenes that consider us "relevant" to be seen. That would be a huge help to us so we can continue to grow our business and hopefully find some new clients too - which will be needed as soon as we can travel again. Travel agents are paid on commission when clients travel, so it's important for us to continue to build our name and support. You're the best!!
Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195!