On a daily basis, our team is asked, “why should I book with a travel agent?” It’s easily one of our favorite conversations; not only because we’re deeply passionate about what we do, but because our deep-rooted relationships are proof that how you book your travel matters.
While the pandemic was devasting to the travel industry, perhaps one of the silver linings for the travel agency community was a renewed appreciation for the relationships cultivated over the course of decades with our partners. These translated into seamless rebooking and refunds for our clients while those who booked on their own or through online travel agencies were left to sort through the myriad of complexities associated with COVID-era travel on their own. Beyond the time you’ll save or the reassurance of having an expert acting as your advocate from start to finish, your travel advisor grows with you and your family. As your preferences and needs evolve, we’re right there beside you, like a partner in any long-term relationship.
Clients of Manhattan-based travel advisor Susan Andrzejewski’s photographed in Santorini by Flytographer.
Where it All Begins: The Twenty-Somethings
Manhattan-based advisor Susan Andrzejewski shared, “I have my friends whose kids are beginning to establish their careers and are calling me for the first time to plan their vacations independent from their families. This group is particularly fun to work as they have traveled to incredible places growing up, so they’ve got great taste. I love finding trips that fit their lifestyle as young professionals. It has been exciting to see how their trips evolve year to year as they become more settled in their careers and have increased flexibility with regard to budget.”
From Honeymoons to Anniversaries
Many of our travel advisors begin their relationships with clients when planning honeymoon travel. With these trips often setting the bar quite high for future vacations, travel advisors become crucial in suggesting the next destination that will make an impact. In the words of Knoxville-based Alexandra Stockton, “I’ve already had honeymoon clients who are now planning babymoons or starting on bucket list trips. For instance, I’ve had couples who have gotten married in the winter and really wanted to experience Santorini, but honeymooned in the Caribbean due to seasonality. But once their anniversary rolls around, we can plan that bucketlist trip to the Greek islands.”
Blogger Emily Hertz and her husband, clients of travel advisor Melissa Rosenbloum, exploring Florence
Want to see more of Emily’s trip to Florence? Check out her blog or find her on Instagram @bornonfith.
From Bachelorettes to Babymoons
New York-based travel planner Megan Dube shared that she’s going through the transition of the first few years of marriage with a lot of her clients. She shared, “With this pattern in particular, a couple I’ve been booking for years comes to mind. I’d classify them as luxury-seeking creatives, who always want to travel to off-the-beaten path destinations, without skimping on comfort. They honeymooned at Jade Mountain in St. Lucia, have skied Japan and surfed Bali. But with Zika on their radar when seeking a babymoon destination, they came to me unsure what would be best for them. Knowing their style, I presented them with solutions like Enchantment in Sedona to zen out and Faena in Miami to satisfy their edginess (the wife is super excited about the Sensatia cabaret at Faena!).”
Let’s Leave the Kids at Home
Your travel advisor grows with you and your family, as your preferences and needs evolve, we’re right there beside you, like a partner in any long-term relationship.
According to Manhattan-based travel agent Nicole Gerber, “Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for ‘let’s leave the kids home’ type of trips. Most of my clients are young families with little ones who typically travel with the entire family, but they are just now starting to venture out without the kids. They realize they need the break and are finally doing much needed couples trips where grandma and grandpa have the kids for the few days they are away. I’ve planned a bunch of quick trips to Portugal, Provence and Barcelona, with Caribbean stints mixed in for those who don’t want to go too far from home. These trips provide much needed R&R for couples to reconnect and have a break from diapers and play dates.”
From Babymoons to Family Travel
Inevitably, what was once a babymoon becomes a family vacation in the years ahead. We have travel advisors who work with families of all sizes, from the couple who has just had their first child and wants a domestic getaway to multi-generational trips encompassing three generations and multiple countries. These more complex family trips are where advisors really excel; as accounting for the needs of kids of various ages, parents and grandparents requires the logistical oversight of a professional.
Rachel Pantoja—a Washington D.C. based advisor—shares, “I’m currently working on a request for a family wanting go to Maui in January. It is two couples, each with two kids (all children between the ages of 3 and 7) and two grandmothers. A Kid’s Club is not essential as they are prepared to watch the little ones, but even grandmas need a break sometime! So we are looking at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea where babysitting can easily be arranged.”
From Disney to Empty Nester Trips
The more complex family trips are where advisors really excel; as accounting for the needs of everyone requires the logistical oversight of a professional.
One of the biggest phase of life changes for families is sending the kids off to college. With an empty house on their hands, parents find themselves ready for the big bucketlist adventures they’ve been dreaming of for years but couldn’t find the time to take in the midst of teenage chaos. According to Long Island-based travel agent Rebecca Alesia, “In my earlier years as an advisor, I was helping a lot of families plan their Disney trips. But now that the kids are all grown up, their needs are totally changing! I find empty nester trips super interesting. All of the sudden, clients’ expenses for a trip are cut in half, so they are doing bucketlist trips like the Amalfi Coast or South Africa.
Or, they’re traveling to visit their children studying abroad. I’ve planned trips for parents to visit their kids Paris, Florence, Australia and New Zealand. The roles are now changing with their kids taking the reigns as the ‘local guide’ to a foreign city. I love seeing the photos mom and dad bring back home to remember the lifelong memories they’ve created together!”
What better way is there to celebrate a milestone birthday than with an epic trip? We see the requests for birthday celebrations increasing every year, with a special focus on unique destinations to ring in another year. SmartFlyer founder and CEO Michael Holtz just had a group of twenty New Yorkers return from Cuba to celebrate a 50th birthday with the most fun stories to tell! And while orchestrating a group of that size (particularly in a locale with so many specificities for American travelers) is no small feat, it becomes second nature to anticipate travelers’ needs when you’ve already planned half a dozen other vacations for them.
From One Milestone to the Next
To summarize it all, Atlanta-based agent Laura Crafton says it best, “I recently had a conversation with a couple who I have worked with for a few years now. I started with their honeymoon and have gone on to plan anniversary trips, a babymoon, a family vacation, etc. They told me recently that a member of their family suggested they just book their trip to Europe trip on their own. Their response to this family member defended my value and expertise as an advisor, but more importantly to me, they defended the relationship that they have built with me over the years. I have been there for milestones in their lives, helping them celebrate, learn, and grow through travel. Having them express this to me meant so much and it goes to show the importance of human connection in our industry.”
Get in touch with a SmartFlyer advisor today to begin what will surely be a [travel] match made in heaven.