As the founder of Friend of a Friend Consulting, a luxury trip design firm in Connecticut, I find I get this question (Why hire a Travel Agent/Trip Planner?) a lot. Though, to be honest, not as often as I’d like. If you know me at all, I love to defend a position, especially one I believe in so vehemently.
It’s fair to say, the question is usually put to me after the person has had one or two drinks, allowing them to feel comfortable enough to ask me why, when the internet allows individuals to research and book hotels themselves, do they really need to work with me? A fair point, indeed. And look, I understand. I’m a consumer of travel products, too, and love nothing more than spending hour upon relentless hour researching my way to a destination’s center core. Of course, that’s why I made it my career. But having now been a Trip Designer for the past few years, in addition to an established travel writer and digital content creator for two very popular Online Travel Agencies (Tablet Hotels and Hotel Insider) I am confident that there is no amount of research or savvy internet skills that can match the outcome of utilizing the expertise and perhaps even more compelling, the industry contracts, of a certified travel professional.
Allow me to explain, in just 4 short bullet points, a few advantages to using a Trip Designer or Luxury Hotel Consultant that you may not have ever considered or known. And if you’re still unsure and need more explanation, by all means: Email me. I will happily chat further.
1. I can research more efficiently than you, mostly because I am deeply familiar with the sources (having worked for or with most of them.) However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to enjoy the pursuit. I know how fun it is to read up on a destination and pour over hotel reviews, and so, in addition to the tailored dossier of hotel suggestions, I also provide my clients with a full reading list of both on and off-line sources.
2. I can almost alway match any rate that you find online, making it moot to hunt for a cheaper deal, and beyond that, I can get you perks on luxury properties that aren’t available to most booking providers. Ever noticed how many of the online travel agencies (Tablet Hotels, SecretEscapes, Jetsetter) will show you the rates from Expedia or Booking.com as a way of convincing you there is no cheaper option? Well, that’s because there really isn’t. It’s incredibly bad business for hotels to offer cheaper rates to certain providers as ultimately all hotels go into the General Distribution System. AND even more creepy, some of these sites (hotelsl.com, expedia) are offering hotel pricing specific to you and your browsing history – yikes !
3. I can liaise with the hotel on your behalf and truth-be-told, they are more inclined to listen to me than you. Nothing personal, just that a travel professional is a business supplier, and you, unless you are a frequent high-flying guest are 1 in 1m. See what The NY TImes reported on the subject in 2012.
4. And more importantly, if the proverbial sh*t ever hits the fan, you definitely want me to help clear it up rather than you. After all, you’re on vacation.