You’ve heard the old adage, Time is Money right?
In many professions, you pay experts in their field for their knowledge and expertise. Think lawyers, doctors, language instructors, fashion consultants, interior decorators … These are service based professions where the person you hire does not give you a physical product, only information. (ok, doctors may give prescriptions). Think of a travel agent the same way. They are experts in their field with knowledge and connections that you do not currently have, and you would like their assistance. In turn, you should expect to pay them for their time and expertise.
CONSULTING RATES FOR CUSTOM ITINERARIES:
$60 + tax for any custom itinerary – normally 7 – 14 days, 1 or 2 people (or a family with kids) who are all going on exactly the same itinerary. Same flights. Same hotels. Same tours. No deviations. (Think of it as the plate of the day at a restaurant, but if you change your fries for salad, you pay an additional fee.)
$100 – $200 + tax for any custom itinerary that is any or all of the following: longer than two weeks, involves an extensive amount of research or a lot of different destinations (such as an around the world trip or two weeks with eight different destinations needing hotels / transportation tours etc). The price will be determined on a case by case basis depending on number of people traveling and the extent of research required.
These fees (if applicable) will always be discussed up front, not a surprise part way through the planning of your vacation.
When you pay for the consulting fees, which are normally collected up front, you can then take all of the information that I provide you and book on your own based on my recommendations, or you can save the hassle and without any extra fees, I’ll do all of the bookings for you to make sure everything fits together with no hitches. Easy peasy!
PLEASE NOTE: I do not charge a consulting fee for all inclusive resort packages, cruises, or group tours. If the package is pre-arranged, I can almost always provide the same rate as you would find through hours of searching online, and often I can do better! We have access to travel agent only specials and bulk buying agreements. Things that you cannot find online! So, you could book online, but why not have access to the extra discounts and amenities plus my knowledge and information about your vacation supplier, destination and general travel advice.
The exception to this is if there are unusual requests or circumstances outside of the pre-packaged vacation that require extra research or handling. For example, if you have health issues and need to know specifically what resorts have the best medical facilities. Or, you want a cruise + a custom itinerary for one week on land after your cruise.
Although the great internet has many answers, it also has many scams, a lot of incorrect or out-dated information. Wouldn’t you rather get your information from someone you know and trust? Someone who has been there, or sent other clients there, rather than an unknown person on the internet?
All in all, the biggest benefit to you, is that paying the consulting fee saves you HOURS of time. And, Time is Money, right? If you have to call 10 companies in different time zones, sort out details and then give each of those companies all of your personal information to book a tour, it takes hours of time, not to mention researching those companies, reading their reviews and deciding who you want to work with. I can narrow all of that down for you so that you don’t have to spend your time doing my job! We also have systems that streamline the process to make it faster and more efficient, so I will spend way less time to get the same job done.
WHAT DO YOU REALLY GET OUT OF THE CONSULTING FEE:
1. It gives you access to me as your personal resource for information. I’ve travelled 33+ countries in the last seven years, with many more on the horizon. I’ve been there and done that in a lot of places, so I have a lot of experience and knowledge to share. Yes, you can get that knowledge from the internet, but you never know how honest it is, was it sponsored, is it old / new / valid / trash. And, the internet can’t tailor information to your specific needs like I can!
2. Further to that, if I don’t have the experience in a particular destination, I can reach out to my colleagues who have personal experience or a gazillion tried, tested and true resources that we have as a company rather than randomly on internet. I’ve also sent many clients to destinations that I have not yet been to. I have lots of experience in Australian and New Zealand adventures, but haven’t quite made it there myself yet. Same goes for Africa, which is coming up for fall 2016!
3. I will spend my time researching your adventure so that you can just go and enjoy without the hassle of figuring it all out. You might spend hours on the internet, whereas I might spend 1 hour through our resources or I might know the answer to your question immediately through personal experience.
4. It gives you a real person to talk to instead of booking online. If you have a problem with your flight, need to make changes, etc, you can contact me. That will save you sitting on hold for hours. Many online sites are now charging booking fees as well, so it is quite normal, although sometimes they are hidden amongst other taxes and fees so you don’t see them.
5. Being a real person, I can give you options that you may not have thought of based on your particular interests / needs. Websites can only know so much about you. You may think that you want to go hiking in Switzerland, so you search for information on that, but through a consultation, it might turn out that France is a better fit for your requirements. The internet can’t problem solve and provide suggestions quite as reliably as a human.
6. Flight bookings. Prices are set by the airlines, not by travel agencies. This is very important because it means that we almost always have access to the same prices. There are some exceptions when one agency may have a different contract with a specific airline, but generally speaking these don’t vary that much.
Where I am better than the online sites is that I can look for connection options that they don’t see because their algorithm has set rules. I can often get long haul itineraries for the same (or cheaper) than the big online sites AND either get you there faster, or get you a cool stop over at little to no extra cost (if you wish). We also have bulk buying agreements with most of the airlines, so often I can get you a slightly better price than what is offered online (but not always).
And, if you want to really make the most of a flight itinerary, flying into one destination and home from a different one can save a lot of time and money. These open jaw itineraries are very difficult to research online. And, even if you can find a site that offers the option, their routes and prices are very limited. I have access to all of the available options.
7. Exclusive insider knowledge on specials and discounts. Especially if you are following one of my social media feeds!
Sometimes we get deals that are only open to our clients at TPI and cannot be found online anywhere. Sometimes we get advanced knowledge of upcoming specials or flash sales (usually on tours, not flights).
8. In case of an emergency, you have someone to help you through the situation. Whether it is arranging an alternate flight route due to a volcano eruption or reminding you to keep receipts and start a claim for travel insurance. If someone falls ill in your family and you need to be with them, the last thing you need to be concerned about is trying to cancel your vacation plans to get refunds. I can take care of that for you while you take care of your family.
Other than the consulting fee for custom itineraries, I also get paid through commissions. (It would take a lot of clients at $60 each to make a living, so don’t be surprised that I get paid in other ways too!)
1. The consulting fee pays for my time / effort / knowledge to help you with your trip. If I were to spend four hours researching options for a client, giving them tips / advice and suggestions and then they booked everything online themselves, I would have wasted four hours and not gotten paid for anything. I’m sure you’ll agree, no one can make a living that way. So, therefore, I don’t work for free.
2. Commissions. Many of the companies that we work with pay us commissions for selling their products. I promise that I will always offer you options that are suited to your needs and you can choose what is best for you. We have hundreds of companies that we have great communication with and we can also work with lesser-known companies as long as they are reputable. Many of the suppliers pay similar rates for commissions, so that does not sway my advice to you. My personal concern is first and foremost the quality of your vacation.
Whether you are looking for information and first-hand knowledge on a destination or an adventure that you are undertaking, you want an entire custom itinerary or you just want to save yourself time and hassle, I would be pleased to consult with you.
Please contact me to discuss by email or set up a time to discuss by phone at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget, I’m a traveling travel agent! Without your business, I can’t continue to explore all of these beautiful destinations, so I go out of my way to ensure that I’m able to respond quickly to all of your enquiries no matter where I am in the world.
Check out a few of my client testimonials to hear just what other people think! (coming soon)