Own Your Next Vacation With This Travel Secret!

 In Guest Post, Lifestyle, Outer First Class, Stress Less Travel

The rise of internet based everything made many occupations obsolete including, it might seem, travel agents. With sites like Expedia making it a breeze to book your own travel, why on earth would you pay a travel agent to do it? (Hint: you don’t pay them!) Here to tell us why you are ripping yourself off if you don’t use the services of a travel agent is Carrie Kiger from Kingdom Destinations with this week’s guest blog!

The Best Things In Travel Are…Free?

Do you like going on vacation but not organizing and planning all the little details?  Do you like getting a heads up on travel specials and deals? What about having an insider giving you tips and tricks to make your vacation go smoother and have more fun without having to spend a whole weekend searching the internet and reading message boards? And finally…do you like getting all of those things for FREE

That’s where I come in. All the work I do planning your perfect vacation is completely FREE to you.  Yes, I promise that if you do an online quote yourself and ask me for the same options in a trip, I will come back to you with the same price.

You might still be asking why you need help, when you can do everything online yourself.  Well, it’s a little more complicated than you might think.

Okay, when does this planning thing get fun?

When I planned our first trip to Disney World it before I was a travel agent. The trip was for a total of ten people. We were celebrating first visits, an anniversary, birthdays, and Halloween and we were staying in three different resorts. My husband and I had the deluxe dining plan, while others had what I call the basic dining plan, and some didn’t have a dining plan at all. It was all over the place.

I spent countless hours online, reading up on different tips and recommendations about touring Disney World. I learned about how to get the most out of Extra Magic Hours and FastPasses, making dining reservations 180 days in advance to help me get the restaurant and times that we needed and about the different events happening during our trip. It took months to plan everything.  It was exhausting.

If I had known about the free services of a travel agent, I would have saved myself hours and hours spent researching and asking questions on message boards and getting opinions and advice from different directions on every topic. A travel agent will listen to what you want to get out of your trip and they will make some common sense recommendations based on your goals and budget.

But what about other types of vacations?  In all honesty, I have not planned any vacation that takes the amount of time and effort a Disney vacation requires to plan, but that does not devalue the expertise and attention to detail a travel agent can provide for you. Let me share with you why.

I got my hot tips from my travel agent. I’m outta here!

As a travel agent, I am continuously educating myself with what my travel suppliers offer.  That includes completing their certification programs, continuing education through live or on-demand webinars and attending in person training events that come through my area.  I have even done on site resort inspections and ship tours to help increase my first hand knowledge of the features and benefits with a particular property or cruise ship.

One of the most valuable benefits to using a travel agent is that they will monitor prices for you.  When I get a notification about a new promotion, I will check and see if I have any clients traveling with that supplier during the promotion dates.  If I do, I check to see if there is any way that I can save them money or gain any additional perks or added values during their trip.  It’s a great little surprise in your inbox when you see that your travel agent found you a deal that day!

The biggest challenge I have in my business is convincing a potential client that there are no hidden fees to use a travel agent.  Yes, there are agents out there that charge booking or planning fees for their services, but most do not.  It’s important to know that up front and don’t be afraid to let an agent know that you would rather work with someone who doesn’t charge additional fees.

So, how do I get paid?  Let’s say you book a Royal Caribbean cruise for this summer, and you book that cruise directly on Royal Caribbean’s website.  Your total cost includes your cruise fare, port fees, taxes…and a travel agent commission. 

“I love paying for something I don’t get,” said no one, ever.

Wait…you didn’t use a travel agent, did you?  Nope.  So, Royal Caribbean pockets that commission as additional profit.  I suppose there actually is a “hidden fee,” but it’s hidden by the travel suppliers directly and not by the travel agent.

You are paying for the personalized services of a travel agent without actually getting them.

Now, when you book that exact same cruise through a travel agent, you’re paying the same price (remember how I mentioned that in the beginning of this article?).  Instead of pocketing that built in commission as profit, Royal Caribbean will pay the travel agent that booked the cruise instead.

You see, travel suppliers see the value in people like me that take the time to learn all the ins and outs of a particular brand and want to sell their product.  I can talk to someone and qualify them for a particular travel brand that best fits their needs and budget.  I help them select which options to include in their vacations and I am there to answer questions along the way.  A travel agent provides a single point of contact throughout the vacation planning process and a big travel supplier just doesn’t have the manpower to offer that level of service to their guests. 

The best part about using a travel agent is that you are supporting a small business. I’m a former teacher turned stay at home mother with a big love of Disney and a little princess at home that loves to help me work.  There are countless others like me that work from home to earn a little extra money for their family.  No, I’m not going to get rich as a travel agent and I don’t get to travel for free, but I do get to hear amazing stories about the vacations I have planned and see the photos of the families making the happiest memories together.  Those intrinsic rewards are what I look forward to the most. 

I hope I have encouraged you to consider using a travel agent to help you plan your next vacation.  If you need a recommendation, I have a great one I can send your way!

Connect With Carrie!

Carrie Kiger – Family Travel Specialist

Carrie Kiger, Kingdom Destinations

My husband and I used to travel to Disney World often.   So often, that I would have a lot of friends and family members start to come to me for planning advice for their upcoming trips.  One day, a good friend said that she had booked her Disney vacation through a travel agent that specialized in Disney destinations.  I didn’t know such a thing existed!  I started to look and applied to different agencies that I felt would be a good fit, and in early 2013, I booked my first Disney vacation as a travel agent. 

After about a year, some of my clients were coming back to me and saying, “You did such a great job with our Disney vacation last year, we would love to use you again for our next vacation!  Can we look at Universal?”  Only, I wasn’t able to book anything outside of Disney.  I hated having to tell my clients that I could not help them.  In early 2015, I moved to Kingdom Destinations, where I am now able to book a multitude of amazing destinations around the world! 

Disney will always be my passion and my specialty (we still go often!), but I have loved getting to learn about other travel suppliers and being able to assist my clients will all aspects of travel.  My booking portfolio now includes a number of popular cruise lines, all inclusive resorts, guided group tours, and more! 

My favorite parts of my job are the research and learning.  Most of my travel suppliers offer online training and continuing education through webinars so I can stay up to date on any changes or promotions with their properties and pricing.  Some suppliers even offer in person workshops that I will attend when they come through my area.  I have even done on site inspections, including resort and ship tours to increase my knowledge.   

When I book a vacation for a client, I will treat it as my own.  If it is a property I am not familiar with, I will scour the internet for reviews, photos, and videos.  I will consult with other agents to see if they have experience with that property.  I want to see the exact room my client could be staying in and make sure it is up to my personal standards before I present it to them as a potential option.   

The most difficult part of my job is convincing potential clients that there are no hidden fees when booking with a travel agent like myself.  Yes, it is not uncommon to come across a travel agent that charges a booking fee, but most agents do not.  Travel suppliers will build agent commissions into their pricing structure to begin with.  If a consumer books with the travel supplier directly, the supplier will pocket that commission as additional profit, but if a travel agent books the vacation, the supplier will pay that commission to the agent.  Travelers don’t realize that they are paying for the services of a personalized travel agent when they book direct.  Why pay for a service you aren’t getting? 

I don’t charge any fees for my services, and I truly love what I do.  I have done this for nearly 6 years, and each year for me gets better and better.   

I live in the Atlanta suburbs with my husband, 4 year old daughter, and our 3 cats.  I work from home, which allows me the flexibility to be able to service my clients at times that are convenient to them.  I realize that my clients might not have the time to discuss vacation plans during weekdays, so I can make myself available in the evenings or weekends to chat on the phone, with some notice.  I can also meet local clients in person, if they prefer a face-to-face conversation.   

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me.  I look forward to working with you soon! 

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