by Iris Haynes
If you have ever put together a vacation, you know that it takes more than a couple of clicks on a travel website to make your trip come together. What seems simple and straight-forward can quickly devolve into quite a bit of time to search for the best travel deals and times. In short, planning a vacation often leads to stress and frustration—ironically the exact opposite of what most vacations are intended.
Let me take that stress off your shoulders. As a professional travel agent, I do all the legwork for you. At iTravel with Iris, LLC it is my job to find travel options which meet your needs and budget, and save you time and frustration. My passions for travel and for helping people are perfectly suited for this, though many people are surprised to discover that travel agencies remain a strong industry.
Many people expect that using a travel agent will be a costly, unnecessary expense because so many travel options are available on-line. Ultimately, using a travel agent to plan a vacation typically costs about the same amount (and you get more for your money) as booking through on-line travel sites, with the added bonuses of reducing the amount of work and mental strain it takes to plan your own trip. Many agencies are compensated by travel vendors for bookings, rather than agencies imposing high fees for trip planning.
Peace of Mind & Flexibility
Online booking has never been more accessible. Think of sites such as Expedia, Booking.com, cruise.com and Vacation-To-Go. However, booking through a third-party site means that there is no one looking out for your best interest. If your goal is simply to book a trip, on-line booking might be for you. If you want more for your money, peace of mind about changing plans, and someone to call for assistance if a problem arises during your trip, you want a dedicated travel agent.
The most well-planned trip is still likely to experience a few snags. If you arrive at your destination and find that the room is unacceptable, or if transportation from the airport to the resort didn’t arrive, your travel agent can usually resolve the situation quickly. You can call for assistance with re-booking your itinerary if you learn of a new attraction, unexpected closing, or even have a need to delay your vacation. Booking through travel sites can result in high fees if you need to delay or cancel your trip—even with add-on “travel insurance” refunds are only available if your cancellation meets certain criteria. An on-line travel site offers little to no personal attention and can be hard to reach if problems arise.
Perks & Promotions
Travel agencies have inside information and access to rates and routes that the average consumer does not have, and that are not available on public booking sites. Agents have access to promotions from resorts, cruise lines and other travel providers that aren’t available to the public. Travel agencies has exclusive access to travel programs that list all booking of airfare, hotels, car rentals, resorts, cruise and river cruise, etc. and use that to get you the best prices and travel times.
In fact, because of this inside information, travel agents can often get you more for your money than you could find on your own. When is the best time to go on a Caribbean, Mexico, Europe or Mediterranean cruise? Travel agents know when customers can get the best booking rates for upcoming cruises to these locations, as well as airfare and other travel plans around the world.
Another way travel agents save you money is by booking packages through resorts and cruise lines, rather than using the a la carte style booking available on travel sites. By planning your itinerary in advance of booking, your travel agent can look for promotional packages that include places on your “where to go” and “what to do” wish lists.
Meals and beverage may be included in packages, and some even offer discounts at certain restaurants if you make advance reservations. If booking a resort or cruise vacation, ask your travel agent to include a drink package at the time of booking, as it is typically less expensive than adding it once your vacation time has arrived.
If you are planning a cruise, your travel agent may be able to give you an on-board credit, which is essentially free money to use however you choose (beverages, gratitude, shore excursion, casino or in the shops on cruise ship).
Additionally, many travel agencies offer payment plans for vacation bookings. You can book cruise/resorts packages two years in advance with as little $1- $100 deposit and balance due 60 – 120 days before your departure date. Travel sites require full payment at the time of booking.
Travel Made Easy
As your travel agent, my job is also to ensure that you are fully prepared for your trip. When you’re preparing for a trip, it can too easy to overlook necessary items. Making sure that you have your passport up to date, IDs, medical records, visas, and other essential paperwork is on my to-do list. You won’t be hit with hidden fees at the last minute. Checking baggage at the airport, transportation to and from the hotel, and other hidden fees can add up and are all things a dependable travel agent accounts for when booking your trip.
When you’re ready to plan your next resort vacation, cruise, train tour, group ski package, Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom or Disney World/Land adventure, call iTravel with Iris, LLC at 252.258.2018. iTravel with Iris, LLC is an independent travel agency in the Avoya Travel Network and owner Iris Haynes is in training for her (CLIA) Accredited Cruise Counselor Certificate. For a full list of cruise lines and resorts available through the Avoya network, call Iris today. “Let me do the planning for you and become your personal travel planner.”