Tales from the travel advisor front

You have to feel for travel advisors.

Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic, war, climate change and rising price inflation have affected everyone. But travel consultants, unlike most of us, pursue livelihoods that depend on their ability to sell vacations. And it doesn’t get any easier.

It is true, however, that smart and talented advisors are taking advantage of a period of influx as consumers, desperate to escape two years of terrestrial restrictions imposed by the pandemic (a phenomenon journalists call “pent-up demand”), return to the skies, the high seas and the roads.

So it’s not as if hard-working travel advisors aren’t being rewarded for their efforts. But oh, the cost of doing business! It’s fair to say that travel vendors face fear, uncertainty, and downright confusion with every encounter.

How do I know? Because I read each of the 111 responses (and counting) to a question posted this week on the members-only Travel Consultants Caribbean (TASC) website: “What surprised you when you became a travel consultant?”

Comments to this query reveal the recurring challenges, frustrations, and rewards associated with selling travel, along with the many bewildering and odd requests that ordering consultants make daily.

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Not surprisingly, many challenges are associated with money. Apparently, many consumers lack a clear understanding of travel costs. One consultant simply commented: “Today: $1,500 budget for AI [all-inclusive] in Jamaica for six days. for two.” Yes, this budget may cover one guest for that period.

Another consultant was more succinct in asking a client who charges a penny, and simply commented: “Five people in one room.” A colleague was equally brief: “There are no discounts on flights!” [Note to readers: She actually used three exclamation points, but I think you understand her frustration, so I removed two.]

Some TASC consultants have compared the cost-focused applications they received to popular game software. “I literally once told a client, ‘That’s not let’s make a deal,'” Dan said. Especially. So funny.” Another TASC member consultant said: “We should love clients who only ask for ‘amazing deals’ like ‘the price is right’.”

“How I hate the word deal,” another consultant complained. “Also, people who come to me with an unreal budget, [like] $5,000 for eight nights in Greece for five people, but “will increase the budget if they really need to.” Sheesh! “

Some Americans seem determined to take the leave regardless of personal circumstances. Can I book a flight to Aruba? asks one of the advisors’ clients. “I said, of course.” He said: Can I use six credit cards? Oh my God, stay home! ” [One exclamation point removed].

Lest you imagine travel consultants focusing solely on cost, many of them have taken up the long hours and hard work required to be an effective retailer. “For me, it was the amount of selling involved in this business,” Debbie said. “I think this surprises a lot of the other travel advisors I’ve spoken to!”

Heather, in turn, was surprised by “how much can be learned,” while Tiffany alluded to the personal toll involved in planning vacations for demanding and travel-enthusiastic clients, expressing surprise at “how stressful that can be.” She added, “The most stressful job I’ve ever been through. It doesn’t look that way from the outside looking inside!”

Nalisha lamented “What a real amount of work involved! Dang. Also, travel agents are not part-time. We are always around the clock. Ugh.” “How everyone wants to shop online for the best deals but wants your recommendations and help navigating during their travels,” Lyksha noted.

Other consultants pondered unexpected lessons on the road to success. Vince was surprised “with the amount of marketing we have to do. And the fact that print marketing and radio marketing, at least for me, doesn’t work. Knowing that early on it would have saved me a lot of money.”

Some of the answers are more appropriately placed in the “weird” category: “Incredibly stupid questions people ask,” said one consultant, “such as “Should I wear a seat belt on a ship?” what?” [Three exclamation points removed].

Cheri has also served customers with what can only be described as problem identification. You mentioned “how many people don’t go by their legal names.”

Sherry added, “I don’t speak to Mike/Michael. I’ve had a lot of clients who aren’t referred to by their first or even middle name. [and] Acquaintances who go in their spouse’s name but have never legally changed it or in one case [isn’t] Legally married! “

Other TASC advisors lamented “how others know so little about travel. Things you never thought you should tell adults, like, ‘Yes, you need a passport to travel outside the US and yes, the Bahamas is not in the US’.”

Meanwhile, Annie made a point made by several advisors, saying that she was initially surprised by “how many friends and family would actually book with you. I can’t say I’d mind now, but I really thought when I started that a lot of people I know would go through with me.” My best clients come from referrals and they are people I don’t know.”

Finally, there is the routine TMI encounter that we journalists also sometimes encounter: “People want to tell me their whole life story. [Caps retained here]. “Please… please just stop.”

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