Welcome to Locally Grown! Locally Grown introduces you to the people and stories behind local, Lake County businesses. This month, we are getting to know Heather Ryan. Heather is the owner of Cruise Planners, and she has put together the Top 10 Reason YOU NEED a travel agent, especially when traveling with kids!
I’ve been asked several times why I would give up a steady government job to be a travel agent. After the long-winded story about taking a leap of faith, and enjoying life to its fullest, the second question comes, “Aren’t travel agents a dying breed? After all, there are so many search engines like Expedia.” This gives me the opportunity to explain why everyone needs a good travel agent just like they need a good mechanic, a good plumber, a good doctor, and a good accountant. You need an expert. The travel industry has grown exponentially in the past several years. You need someone to guide you through the murky seas of vacation possibilities.
Here is Heather’s list of the top ten reasons you need a travel agent:
- I have the latest travel education and have traveled the world.
Travel agents have access to the latest information on fabulous vacation destinations and cruise offers. Better yet, I’ve been there and can give you firsthand knowledge of the location. I also have a network of travel agents who have access to their clients’ feedback. You’ll never find this kind of honest information by reading anonymous reviews that may have been written by the resort.
- I have a relationship with the vendors.
That room you couldn’t get because they were “sold out” online? The cabins you wanted to be next to each other, but instead you’re three floors apart? I know who to talk to in order to ensure that you get the most out of your vacation. These kinds of special requests can be especially important for families traveling together. I often know of exclusive opportunities the resort will never tell you about, too!
- Who are you going to call if something goes wrong?
Your business just does not mean that much to Orbitz. If you call the anonymous 1-800 number, they simply do not care about you. Travel vendors want and need travel agents to have happy clients. We refer many clients each year. The resort or cruise line will go above and beyond for your travel agent.
- Travel agents have access to deals not offered to the public.
Cruise Planners has a huge network affiliated with American Express. We have deals offered only to us that will never be advertised anywhere else. We’ll offer upgrades, exclusive dinner reservations, welcome packages, shipboard credit and other perks–all of which will cost you nothing extra.
- We’re in the know.
We get access to all of the latest and greatest travel news. Want to board the newest cruise ship? Where has Sandals opened their newest resort? We are the first to receive press releases, training, and inside discounts on all the latest vacation opportunities.
- It doesn’t cost you anything!
How many hours have you wasted going down the internet rabbit hole looking for the “best deal” or most “family friendly” cruise ship? You’re a busy person. Why waste all of that time when someone else can do it for you at absolutely no cost? Your family vacations are precious and you should get the most out of your hard-earned money.
- What will you do in an emergency in a foreign country?
If you have an emergency outside of the United States, your travel agent will work to get you out of it… one way or another. Travel agents have contacts worldwide. They can quickly direct you to the most appropriate medical facility or find you alternate transportation home if necessary. Never leave home without your travel agent’s cell phone number!
- We help you to make the best vacation decisions.
If you call one cruise line, they aren’t going to tell you that your family may be better suited for a competitor’s ship. A travel agent will listen to what you want in your vacation. You save for a long time for your vacation; it should be everything you’ve dreamed of. The wrong fit can ruin everything.
- Travel agents take care of you before and after your vacation.
Not sure what to pack? What kind of travel documentation do you need? Will your cell phone work aboard the ship? You’ve lost your wedding ring aboard the ship, how do you get it back? These are all questions your travel agent can answer. A good travel agent will ease any fear or stress you might find yourself under while preparing to travel, and when coming home.
- Having a good travel agent is like having a good accountant in April.
As the years go by, and your relationship grows with your travel agent, they will keep an eye out for special deals for you. The time, money and stress that you will save yourself by having a good travel agent in your back pocket will be invaluable.
Learn more about Cruise Planners next week with Maureen’s business profile.
Disclosure: Cruise Planners is our featured Locally Grown Business of the Month. This series of features is part of a paid partnership with Little Lake County. Contact littlelakecounty[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our series.