The last time you planned a trip, where did you book? Where did you check the price? Expedia? Priceline? Orbitz? Travelocity? BookIt? Booking.com? Kayak? Trivago? Directly with the airline and hotel or resort?
The options are endless, huh? They all say they have the best prices, ever. How is that even possible?! They can’t all have the best price…. Or, can they?
The down and dirty little truth is- they actually do all have the best price. Yes, you read that right. They all have the best price. In fact, at Vacationisms here, we also have the best price. Wondering when we’re going to explain this crazy talk?
Here goes. Brace yourself. Sit down. Deep breath.
We all have the same price.
Almost 100% of the time when you compare a trip, apples to apples, the pricing will line up within mere dollars. If you see it hundreds of dollar cheaper on Orbitz, check the flights. They have a bad habit of auto-selecting flights with 3 stops and 12 hour layovers to make it look a little cheaper. Usually, we start with the best flights I can find because who wants to spend more time than necessary in airports?!
Here’s what you need to know: hotels, resorts, airlines, rental car companies, excursion providers, cruise lines, tour operators and the like set their prices just like any other business. With an equation of cost plus profit, there’s your price. Nestled into that “cost” portion is a commission percentage. Whoever sells that product, is paid the commission. So, if you book yourself via Expedia, they get paid. If you book with a travel agent, they get paid. If you book direct? They just go on ahead and pocket that as additional profit.
So, here’s the question: when you book your next trip, who do you want to make money? The faceless travel website who makes money on you doing the actual work yourself? The resort that gets to pocket some extra money for you doing the work yourself? Or, do you want the helpful hand of your friendly neighborhood travel agent?
Allow us to present just 8 top reasons you need a travel agent:
1) We know more than you. Blunt, but true.
Good travel agents have done our research, attended our conferences, flown out to familiarization visits and done our site inspections. We know our stuff.
Let’s say, for example, you want to go to the Caribbean in October. Wahoo, it’s cheap! Um, that’s because it’s hurricane season, pal. Did you know that the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are usually hit the worst, while Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados and St. Lucia are usually unaffected by hurricane season? We do. Without Google-ing.
Now, pretend you want to go to Cancun for a week. Not in Cancun, but nearby. Cancun is too party-ish; you want quieter. You’re leaving the kids at home so you want an adults only resort. On the beach. A good beach. All-inclusive, of course. But with good food, not a glorified food court. And no crappy liquor, mmmkay? Go to Expedia and try to find that. Search Cancun… We’ll wait.
Great, 253 options. Try to narrow that down yourself. Hmmm, click all-inclusive.
Now we’re down to 55, phew. Wait. You can’t even narrow it down by what resorts are on the beach?! Well, crap. If you gave us that info- we would know of three resorts off the tops of our heads that are amazing, and everything you’re looking for. Also, as a preferred agent of one resort family in particular, you’ll get the top shelf liquor package for free. That’s not included when you book that same resort family on Expedia.
2) Speaking of that, we get perks for our clients.
There are resorts that we know and love. Guess what? They love us too! Because of our volume, we are able to snag freebies that the general public can’t. Private dinner on the beach? Spa credits? Honeymoon packages? Top shelf liquor? Tour credits? We got them for you.
3)We have more first hand knowledge than you. Because we have likely been to the destination and/or resort we are recommending for you.
We travel constantly. Sometimes for fun, mostly for work. Resorts want agents to send their clients to them so agents are often invited to stay at properties all around the world to learn more about them. In the first half of this year, our agents have traveled seven times to three countries. In those seven trips, we have each physically been in twenty four resorts.
4) We also have more second hand knowledge than the average traveler. Sure, you could read Trip Advisor reviews but how long will that take you? And how subjective are those?!
Chances are, if we haven’t been there, we know someone who has. In the first half of this year, we have booked 168 clients on 184 trips to 12 countries and 65 resorts. Every time we send a client somewhere, we check in with them on their return and get the scoop on the good, the bad and the ugly. With this, we separate into factual accounts and subjective feelings. That is what we use to advise you. We won’t bother telling you that someone complained about a beach in Mexico because it wasn’t as nice as Turks & Caicos (subjective and obvious if you have been to both) but we will tell you that a resort is in the flight path of a major Caribbean airport (factual).
On top of our clients’ experience, we are part of a group encompassing 2100+ affiliate agents. If you take our bookings as an average, that means we have collectively booked 386,400 trips just in the first six months of 2016. As a resource group, we share our personal and client experiences. If for some reason we haven’t been somewhere or sent a client, an affiliate has and we have the inside scoop.
5) Speaking of Trip Advisor, the credible reviews are so few and far between. Seriously, have you read them?
Let’s use this as an example because we have been to Sandals Barbados and would highly recommend it:
First of all, they didn’t even stay there and admitted that. Second, we are very familiar with this particular promotion and can confirm that it does not, in fact, include airfare. Sandals is a resort company, not an airline. Although you can package air with them, they don’t set the pricing and don’t purchase seats in bulk so they have zero control over airfare pricing. Unless you live in Barbados, you will have to fly there. So, yes – the flights will cost more than just the resort stay. How is this surprising? And how does this merit a one star review for a beautiful resort with amazing staff? It doesn’t.
The number one source of complaints within the travel industry is hands down policy and/or cancellation. The number one group of people who write related reviews were well aware of the policies and chose not to insure their trips. This does not reflect on the resorts; this reflects on the travelers… Yet, it spurs them to write reviews as shown. Take reviews with a grain of salt.
6) We are your person. We love you, really.
In the process of planning your trip, we get to know you. The more you book with us, the better we get to know you. Eventually, we don’t even have to ask many questions to book a trip we know you will love leading to even less work for you. Does Priceline know you like that? Seriously, does the call center rep know you from a hole in the wall when you call with a problem? When you call us with a problem, it’s personal and we will take care of it.
7) Speaking of problem solving, we are VIPs. Think about it.
Resorts want us to fill their rooms. As one agency, we have controlled quite a bit of money spent on travel. This means that when we call a high level contact for a resort with a problem, they want to do what it takes to satisfy us so we won’t hold our clients back in the future. You can get ok customer service from one of the online travel agencies, but at the end of the day, you are only one number to them. Not the case with a travel agent. Remember how we said we are your person? Rings true.
8) If we haven’t yet made it clear: we do the work for you. And we do it for no additional cost.
We do the research, we know our stuff and we can make the recommendations that you are looking for without you spending more time than just telling us what you’re after. Whether it’s a long weekend you want to disappear for, your honeymoon or destination wedding, a family reunion, a babymoon, country hopping in Europe, scuba dive tour, group cruise or any other travel occasion, we will get you there and we will get your money’s worth.
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When you plan travel with Vacationisms, you're shopping small and supporting a privately owned business based in Goffstown, NH.
We're owned by a husband and wife power duo living locally with their two-nager. Yes, two-nager. When you plan your travel with us, you aren't only supporting our amazing team, you're supporting the community, too. We reinvest heavily in our community in social advocacy, youth development and athletic programs, and we too shop small. We believe that our community is important and we appreciate your business to allow us to continue.