Monday, 12 March 2012

Web vs. Agent

A question was submitted to me via email this past week:  It was from Jan H. and was about booking online versus through a travel agency.  Specifically she wondered:

 A) Could I offer them the same rate?
 B) What's the difference? 

An excellent question and a very popular one I might add!  I love being given the opportunity to answer questions like this so here goes:

When you book online through a travel website, typically you're still dealing with a travel agency however it's an online version rather than a store front office such as mine.  The "deals" and options offered by the online agency is identical to what other agencies are able to offer.  One thing that you need to understand is that we all have access to the exact same information so whether you choose to sit in front of your computer and wade through the multitude of  options on a travel website, go directly to a tour operator site (or call them) or contact a traditional bricks and mortar agency, the pricing is the same when you compare the identical product.

The bigger, and to me, the more important question is the second one!  What's the difference between an online travel site or working with a travel agent?  My answer to that is an entire world of difference!  A website can not begin to get to know your personal preferences  - flying preferences, type of accommodation, special interests or activities you like to do.  Sure, websites have little boxes you can click here and there to say you like an all inclusive, 4.5 star or would rather depart in the morning but are they really asking the important questions that truly offer insight?  Insight such as which destination or resort would be best for your multi-generational family of 12, or which hotel is more likely to be able to cater to specific dietary needs such as gluten free meals.  These are just a small sampling of how our experience can help.  I believe it's about building relationships, not about finalizing just that one-time sale.  If an agent just takes the information on what you've been looking at, essentially they are an order taker and absolutely that can be done on line! Our value is in the questions we ask and our own personal travel experiences.  We need to ask questions to qualify your needs and to work on getting to know you, our valued client. These are things that a website, no matter how technologically advanced it is, can not do!  Websites are fantastic tools for educating yourself and doing research but it does not replace a great agent who is working for YOU!  We work as your value interpreter offering unbiased travel advise that is geared to create the best possible selections for you and those you're travelling with. 

Navigating through the countless sites can become overwhelming for sure.  At our office we are finding that more and more clients are using the internet and various websites to gain knowledge about things to see and do and then are contacting us to weave all the finishing details together into one seemless package.

I have often said to potential clients that it's really about working with someone who is able to listen and understand your needs.  If you feel that a website offers that then by all means, maybe it's the best choice for you but if you want someone to be able to interact with, to call upon when you have questions and who will go above and beyond to make great holiday memories, then my vote will always be to work with a travel professional.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

In the begining

Although I'm brand new to blogging, I'm certainly not new to bringing the world and all it has to offer to my clients.  Everyone keep telling me that I need to be blogging and so...if you're willing to read what I post, I'm willing to give it a try!

So, here's how it all began: My love of travel began very early on for me and like many young adults, fresh out of school, I decided to "see the world" and "spread my wings".  That adventure took me for the first time to Australia.  Yup, the land Downunder with it's magnificent beaches, dynamic and cosmopolitan cities, red desert centre, sheep dotted pastures, Foster's Lager and the friendliest people!  Oh believe me when I say there is so much more to Australia than these few points however it was a start remember!

Upon returning home after nomadic wandering the continent I knew that travel was in my blood.  For nearly 25 years now I have been working as a Certified Travel Consultant with the previous 11 years of that also being the owner of an independent agency called Travel Quest.  Each and every day I enjoy what I do...yes...even still!  I think I must have hit the nail on the head with that choice in life!

For me, my career has evolved and I realize that it's truly about forging relationships with my clients and getting to know who they are and what makes for a "perfect getaway" to them.  I'm thrilled to share my stories of personal travel, ideas and hints I've learned both from experience and feed back I receive from client.

And so, for my first blog post, I hope you've found something interesting that will entice you to check back periodically for another chapter of "with Carey on".