OK…now that we have your attention…
Why would anyone use a Travel Agent since I can book reservations online myself?
You most certainly can book reservations online yourself and sometimes you actually should. For simple little overnight trips, asking a Travel Advisor to do that is really not the best use of your time or theirs. This is where booking engines come in handy such as the one we have at Clé Concierge Luxury Travel. There are Travel Advisors who would totally disagree with this point, but c’est la vie! For my return clients or those with whom I have a special relationship, I gladly handle simple overnight trips for them…in fact, I encourage it. I know them so well I can jump right in and secure exactly what they want without much effort. The real benefits of using a Travel Agent comes as you increase your travel and it becomes more luxurious, expensive, and specialized. Complicated itineraries are not for the faint of heart. We are a value added commodity for those who want to relax and have someone else handle the details so all you need to do is enjoy your most precious commodity…your time.
With the advent of the internet, there are a myriad of tools available for people to book their own travel. However, unless you have hours and hours to devote to research and know where to find the reliable information concerning where you want to stay while traveling, just using online booking engines or tools will not ensure you have the trip of your dreams. Additionally, did you know that many of the highly prized and most specialized rooms cannot even be booked online?
At Clé Concierge, we have spent years developing our own personal influential connections. There are private executive levels that are never available through internet booking sites. Furthermore, hotels have a hidden inventory meaning there are reservations that are considered “vacant.” With the right connections, a highly skilled Travel Consultant will often be able to acquire an accommodation even when hotels are sold out. As Larry Olmstead said in an article for Forbes Magazine, you use a Travel Consultant because “they know more than you do, they are better connected than you, they have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise, they can often beat any other prices available (even online, yes), and after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself or buying insurance. Having a top travel agent can also make you an instant VIP – free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, cutting lines, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibits, private guides, and cheaper – often much cheaper – premium airfares. Here’s the best part: even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family, and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved money, often a lot of money, thousands of dollars, and in every case, more than paid for themselves.”
The Exception to the “Free” Rule
You knew it was coming. How do Travel Advisors make their money? The money is made based on securing reservations through a reputable Supplier. Generally, there is never a fee to the client. However, when itineraries become highly customized and very complicated many TA’s are now instituting a “plan to go fee.” Clé Concierge Luxury Travel has done that as well. Our policy is:
Clé Concierge Luxury Travel charges a planning or advice fee called a “plan-to-go” fee for complex itineraries. This is not for issuing tickets or simple hotel and car reservations, but for what the name implies. Our highly skilled professionals spend countless hours researching and individualizing unique and hard to find travel venues and experiences. For tailor-made arrangements, the “plan-to-go” fee is a percentage of the total cost of the trip. A nonrefundable deposit is required at the time of the initial consultation.
How do you locate a suitable Travel Consultant?
- Ask someone you know for a referral
- Ask for references
- Check out their website
- Interview the Travel Consultant
- Check if they are financially sound
- Years in service. Yes, years in business is important.
(As an Affiliate of Montrose Travel, we are financially sound. Montrose booked over $125 million in travel last year.)
As someone said, “If I needed to design a new home, I’d hire an architect, not use a “be-your-own-architect” website.” Same with hiring an expert in the travel industry. You want someone who knows all the “ins and outs” of travel so think of us the next time you need experts in travel!