“Live life with no excuses, travel with no regrets” – Oscar Wilde
We have blogs, travel programs, rewards credit cards, and even global affiliated companies with reviews to help us make the right decision. So, why do we need a travel agent? Barbara Rudolf with eTravel Unlimited shared many great reasons why choosing the right agent might even save your life.
One of the most endearing things about Barbara is her passion for helping others. She retired from a career in education before transitioning into travel, and continues helping people both through her business and by engaging in activities like the Plane Pull at the Denver International Airport to raise money for Special Olympics.
Here is a great example of what Barbara has done for one of her clients:
Alex and Rebecca, a couple in their 40’s wanted a special romantic trip to Greece. Barbara spoke with them about their dreams and goals on the trip, expectations, dates, cost, etc. and put together a package meeting all the above. They started in Athens where their hotel room overlooked the Acropolis, Barbara helped plan their trip to avoid high-tourist times, and then they traveled out to the famous Greek Isles: Santorini, Mykonos, and Naxos for a relaxing stay overlooking the Mediterranean and enjoying some incredible fare. All of their transfers, ferries, hotels, and special activities were all coordinated through Barbara so all they had to do was grab their passport, pack their bag, and go! Seven days, approx. $4,250/person including airfare!
I couldn’t resist asking Barbara what value a Travel Advisor offers when I can plan my trip myself? She began by explaining the process for earning her CTA (Certified Travel Advisor) which took months with a final exam. She also works as part of a highly-respected travel firm where she has earned various Destination Specialist certificates (Australia, Disney, etc.) each taking several months of study to earn. Barbara advises her clients on:
- Customs and traditions of the country/s they are visiting
- Natural disaster risks
- Places and activities to seek out or avoid
- How to be aware of your surroundings for safety
- What to do if disaster strikes
Barbara is also deeply connected in the industry with companies like Down Under Answers who is a vendor Barbara goes through to get guaranteed availability with the quality her clients deserve.
Okay, so what’s the challenge with using an Online Travel Agency (OTA)? She says they don’t get to know you as a client, so the trip is not as custom the way she can put it together, and they don’t offer the services she does before and during your trip. What services should we consider?
- Connections to quality travel insurance agents
- Safety (Education about symbols and clothing appropriate for your vacation, what foods to enjoy/avoid, where to visit and/or not to go, what to do if disaster strikes)
- Food allergies
- Handicapped and medical services
- Airplane seating preferences (Do you need an Aisle, are you more comfortable by the window?)
- Transportation specifications (requesting a land cruiser on an African Safari for example)
- STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program): Free service to enroll travel plans with local embassy and/or consulates
- Special touches such as a gift basket in the client’s hotel room when they arrive
I was surprised how much thought Barbara put into her clients! She even brought up how important the length of time left on your passport is because some countries won’t let you in if your passport expires in 3-6 months.
In 19 years Every client of Barbara’s has returned home safely and happy with her services!
Okay, a Travel Advisor is very knowledgeable and experienced, so what’s the cost? Barbara says she talks about what is and isn’t realistic with her clients. First, you can’t compare her prices with OTAs because you’re getting a customized trip with her, and she brings so much invaluable knowledge to the table to best ensure you get the experience you are seeking.
Lastly Barbara stressed the importance of quality travel insurance as part of her package for her clients. Some OTAs offer protection, sometimes they don’t offer enough levels of coverage or types of coverage. Barbara says a quality company like the David Kanefsky Insurance Agency is key to make sure you have an affordable and comprehensive policy in place.
For more information, and to connect with Barbara for your future travels please comment here and we can help your dreams come true!