Today anyone with an internet connection can book a flight and piece together an itinerary. So why work with a travel agent?
As part of our Why Work With a Travel Agent? series, we spoke with Emily Ziaee, a physician at Sound Health Services and mother of two. Emily has booked travel with SmartFlyer agent Rob Merlin exclusively for six years.
Amy Cao: Why did you decide to work with a travel agent?
Emily Ziaee: Rob is my first and only travel agent. I didn’t know what I was missing before I met him! Our kids were playing together and I was telling him about an upcoming trip. (I didn’t know he was a travel agent at the time.) He suggested Loews Santa Monica, a property and location I would have never thought of on my own. The beachfront hotel was perfect and my young kids loved it.
AC: In your view, what are the advantages to planning travel with an agent?
Rob knows my family so well, I’m comfortable calling him up with nothing more than travel dates and whether we want a city, beach or snow destination.
EZ: Rob knows what my family is looking for in a vacation and always has a list of destinations that will suit us. He also keeps my family’s info on hand so booking is effortless on my part. When we arrive at our destination, the perks we receive are fantastic. Usually we’ll receive an upgraded room and breakfast is almost always included along with resort credits.
Being a working mother, I don’t have time to do extensive research on vacation destinations. Rob knows my family so well, I’m comfortable calling him up with nothing more than travel dates and whether we want a city, beach or snow destination, and telling him to surprise me. He takes the stress out of vacation planning.
AC: What’s the best trip that your agent has organized for you?
EZ: In 2015, Rob organized a multigenerational trip to Iceland for my family that was perfect. He arranged a private tour that was within our budget and booked all of the hotels and experiences. It was a trip of a lifetime for everyone. Another time, Rob booked a trip to Las Vegas for my family, my sister’s family and my parents. He suggested the Four Seasons because there is no casino – something we would have never thought of. He arranged a three-bedroom suite for us, and because it is a Virtuoso property, we were upgraded to a Presidential suite upon arrival that was more than 3,000 square feet overlooking the strip! We especially enjoyed the included breakfast at our dining room table for ten. A year later the kids are still talking about the trip.
The truth is, every trip has been memorable its own way, and there have been many trips: New York City was amazing because of the suites at Lotte New York Palace, as was The Cloister at Sea Island in Georgia. Rob booked us a Switzerland Backroads multisport adventure, and then there was Montage Deer Valley in Utah. I don’t think I could possibly ski anyplace else after that.
Don’t miss part one of Why Work With a Travel Agent, including tips for making the most of the agent-client relationship. To work with Rob or to discover more agents on our team, head over here.