Here are some of the things a travel consultant does for her Cruise Customers:
1. For new cruisers, she "qualifies" the customer. She aims to find out their likes and dislikes, and recommends several possible cruises based upon what they want/prefer. She explains about sea days, tenders, private islands, shore excursions, and many other things that go into cruising.
2. She discusses guarantees vs. locked in cabin choices. If booking a guarantee she monitors it for them, always looking for upgrades.
3. Works with them on passports, and if necessary, helps them get expedited passports.
4. Works out their air flights, discusses arriving a day early, makes sure they have sufficient time at either end of the vacation.
5. Arranges transfers, either through the cruise line, shuttle or by limo, and takes care of a car rental, if needed.
6. She goes over the shore excursions brochure with them, explains options of independent excursions and timing of excursions. She helps them understand options for handicapped or limited passengers. She describes the kids programs and excursions suitable for kids.
7. She helps manage all name and cabin changes. She helps deal with delayed or even cancelled flights.
8. She goes over available insurance plans and helps them choose the right plan, based upon the clients specific needs.
9. She explains formal nights and discusses all the various options.
10. She explains dining options and makes arrangements for whatever they choose.
11. She assists with pre-ordering whatever they need, be it flowers for the cabin, formal wear, or liquor packages. She pre-books spa appointments and specialty dining reservations, when available.
12. She holds their hand when their own family member decides not to go, and helps them re-arrange cabin assignments, if necessary.
13. She goes over the luggage allowances and advises them on packing, checklists, last minute preparations, etc.
14. Helps in times of traveling crisis, missed flights, forgotten documents, etc.
15. Then, after doing all that, she frequently sends them a thoughtful gift based on what she has learned about them- either before, during, or after their cruise.
"An in-dispensable travel agent is like a seasoned concierge; better connected than the internet, faster than a T-3 line & able to book the un-bookable with a single call." -Conde Nast Traveler
Your 52 Week Challenge To Save Money for a Cruise!
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
If you’ve been trying to save money for your next cruise/vacation but are having a hard time getting started, here's an easy way to save money that starts with just a $1.
This $1 for 52 weeks challenge is geared towards those who have a hard time saving money. The first week, you will put just $1 into a savings account or large type money jar (one you cannot easily get into). Each week, you will slowly increase the amount that you put into your savings by $1. By the end of the 52 week period, you will have nearly $1,400 saved up for a cruise or vacation! This would be a super vacation fund to go someplace absolutely AWESOME! Set a goal (such as an amazing destination you’ve not yet been) and you’ll get there.
While this method of savings is not for everyone, it works well for those who have a hard time sticking to a budget. The success of this plan relies on the simplicity of it and how it starts at a very low amount. The amount you save gradually grows, making it easier for you not to “miss” the money that you put away. And, if you have a little extra it will help speed things along! If you're a visual person like me, a large money jar would visually show you how much progress you're making!
If you are thinking about trying this savings plan and not quite sure if it will work for you, ask yourself one simple question. “Can I find 1 extra dollar each week that I can put into savings?” Sure you can, we all can do this!
Here’s some ideas so far: Avoid that soda from the soda machine, that cup of coffee, a candy bar, or lunch out! Just think, simply saving 1 lunch out a week could compound the money saved even faster!! The average lunch out costs $5 and up, just "brown bagging it" one day will help you reach your goal quickly!!
We’d love to hear if you have a different way of saving money that works for you. Leave a comment in the section below and tell us all about it.
Quick Ways to save for Vacation!
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
In a perfect world, we'd all have fully funded vacation accounts full of lots of money to pay for our annual family getaways. The reality is that most of us are just now starting to think about this holiday season and next summer's vacation. Here are some fast-track ways to save for your big trip.
1. Start with a spending plan
Decide upfront how much you'll spend on your vacation. Get specific.
Along with plane tickets (or gas, if you're driving) and hotel prices, guess what your costs for meals, souvenirs, and park or museum admissions. Total it all up. If the number sends you into shock, cut back on costs -- now, on paper -- until you feel comfortable with what you're spending. If money is super tight, consider a couple of long weekend trips instead of one "dream" vacation this summer. Staycations are always good ideas, take some day trips to areas locally you’ve been wanting to check out, without breaking the bank.
When we started deciding that family memories were essential to our family, I decided what amount we could set aside for our “travel budget” and every paycheck, determined to set this money aside into a savings account. It didn’t break our budget, was hardly missed, and it slowly but surely compounded.
Another idea is to sit down with your family and determine how much you can spend on your trip, then get with your travel agent to actually budget your plans out. Most vacations can be held with a small deposit, and then payments made as often as you like. It’s like a built in savings plan, you have a tangible goal to work towards, and you can then COUNT DOWN to vacation time! The anticipation of the trip is just as fun!
2. Sacrifice now for lots of fun later
Do you belong to a health club or subscribe to a service (such as cable or satellite TV, a cell phone plan, etc.) that you no longer use, or could easily downgrade?
Consider dropping the service now and stash the money away for your family's summer vacation. Also consider cutting back for a few months on nonessentials like kids' dance lessons, your weekly Pilates classes, your husband's trips to the batting cage, lunch/dinner or coffee out, or your family's monthly movie-rental service. When I made a decision a few years ago to make memories with my family and cut costs wherever it was, I was able to set aside some money every 2 weeks to make it happen. So, I cut lunch out with co-workers, and rather than deny them completely, I tried to do 1 a week instead of nearly daily.
Remember: You're just trading today's fun for the fantastic fun you'll have during your vacation. Move what you normally would have spent on these items into your vacation fund. Ideally, that would be a special savings account or an easy-to-track category within your larger savings account.
3. Build cash with a 'Pantry Week'
For one week each month, from now until your trip, stay out of the grocery store and eat only what you have in your house.
You could make it fun by pretending you're on a deserted island and can only eat what you have in the pantry. What unusual meals can the kids suggest? Many families have more staples in their cupboards than they realize. And hey! It really is actually OK to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner one night.
4. Eat out less, save big
A typical family with kids younger than age 6 spends an average of $239 each month on restaurant meals, according to the National Restaurant Association. That's money that could easily be diverted to your vacation fund.
Some ways to cut back without going cold turkey: Check local restaurants for "kids eat free" nights (often Monday or Tuesday nights), watch newspaper coupon inserts for buy one entree, get one free dining deals or buy discounted coupons (usually $25 certificates for $10) at Restaurant.com.
Frozen dinners or ready-made grocery deli items are much cheaper than restaurant food if all you really need is a cooking break. You could also eat dinner inexpensively at home, then treat the family to a modest dessert out.
5. Make a visual savings wall chart
Kids are more likely to get excited, and you'll stay on track easily, if you make your savings goal visual. Chart a graph on a large poster board. Track your weekly or monthly progress toward your trip savings with colorful markers and stickers.
Set some great milestones along the way: For instance, once you've saved one-quarter of your trip costs, celebrate with a special movie-at-home night or go out for ice cream. Celebrating your success makes the savings process fun and less tedious!
6. Sell your stuff
A garage sale is a great way to earn vacation cash from your castoffs. To attract a crowd, run an ad in your local newspaper, online like craigslist and face book and post easy-to-read signs around your own neighborhood. Check local regulations about posting notices, of course, and write signs in crayon if it looks like rain.
Sales tips: Kids' clothes sell well at yard sales, adult clothes don't -- try a consignment shop instead. List kids' clothing sizes and brand names, if you have them, in your ad. Some parents make special trips to garage sales featuring labels like Baby Gap and Gymboree.
If your kids are old enough to help, let them pick some of their older toys to sell. A cute special kids' table with a sign like, "All proceeds go to purchase of our Disneyland souvenirs," is often a big hit -- and it's a great way to teach your kids about saving money.
7. Use your tax refund -- now
Do you usually get an IRS refund in April? If so, too much tax money is being withheld from your paycheck. Fill out a new W-4 form with your employer right away. Adjust your tax withholding so that it's fairly close to what you will owe in April.
Your next paycheck should be substantially bigger. Start transferring the extra money into your dedicated vacation savings account or category. Or, if you still get a refund this spring, sock it away, too. Put the money into a dedicated vacation account, so you don't spend the money on anything else.
8. Let credit cards pay you back
In the months prior to your vacation consider using a credit card that accumulates "rewards"(points or cash rebates) for everything you can: gas, groceries -- even day-care tuition.
Let these rewards pile up, then use them toward plane tickets (if you've been banking points/dollars for a while), hotel or rental car discount, or gift cards for chain restaurants you'll visit on your trip. The key, of course, is to pay off your balance in full every month. Vacation debt is not the kind of souvenir you would want to collect.
9. Pay for All of your Trip Up Front
We like to head on vacation with NO Debt owed for the trip. We pay for our tips/gratuities, any extra trips, etc. in advance. I like to go on vacation knowing that everything has been covered, and I can truly relax with no worries about finances! That’s truly a relaxing, worry-free vacation for me.
As a travel specialist, one of the questions I hear most is “Why should I book with a travel agent, when I can simply book directly on the web with the cruise line, resort, hotel, etc?”
Great question! Purchasing a vacation should be a personal experience. All vacations are not alike, & the best vacation experience is one where the vacation is matched to you!
Check out these 6 quick reasons to book with an experienced travel consultant – specifically one that specializes in cruise & land vacation travel.
1. Your Time is Precious. Who wants to spend hours sorting through the hundreds of cruise ship & land options? We're always happy to work for you – it’s what we truly love to do.
2. Reliable Pricing. Have you ever logged on to a web-only site to research pricing on a particular vacation? You’ll see one price & you say to yourself, great – Hey...I think I’ll book it now. Sometimes though, that’s not the only price available; there may be other promotion codes, hidden prices (add-ons) as well, allowing for many different rates for the same choices. A knowledgeable consultant will let you know whether any price discounting is available resulting from any special promotions, group pricing, or whether you might qualify for a past passenger rate, a military rate or other special discount &/or added amenity's offered.
3. Personalized Service. Have you ever been frustrated with the 800-number large web-based agencies, waiting on hold, unreturned phone calls, or simply tons of mis-information? In some cases, the representative you are dealing with has never even stepped foot where you're going & is just relating information from the site's own website. Since you have my cell number (and our other consultants personal numbers) we will never leave you hanging, always returning calls & emails promptly. A really good consultant knows what you’re looking for in a vacation & will make it happen in an expedited, friendly & professional way.
4. Support a Local, Small Business. With thousands of agencies out there beckoning for your business – brick & mortar and on-line agencies alike – competition is very fierce. We're small, independent business – that has access to the same resources as the big web agencies as well as personal experience & unmatched service you won’t find anywhere else. Thank you for making us your travel consultant! Thanks for entrusting us with your vacation dreams.
5. Help Always. Did you know that if you have already booked directly with the cruise line or vacation package company, you can still transfer that booking to our company? Simply let us know, & we will take care of the whole process. Your cruise or vacation package stays exactly the same, you will receive great service, we'll keep you as our guest & as a friend. Everyone wins!
6. We Have your Back. If any problems should arise before or during your vacation, we will advocate on your behalf. Usually with really great results!
So, you may then ask, "Why are travel agents still the best tool to book vacations in the information age?"
The internet won’t call a customer back, won’t wait on hold on your behalf, with an airline or hotel so you don’t have to, adjust plans due to unexpected developments or act as your “mission control” for all facets of your cruise vacation or vacation package – before, during and after. You can't ask the internet questions prior to booking. Travel consultants work as personal advisors to provide their clients with the best travel experience before during and even after their trip.Thanks to their in-depth knowledge, experience and industry connections, travel consultants are able not only to save their clients money, but their most valuable possession—their time.
Being available constantly 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.... Calling clients in Germany, Costa Rica if they need me... It's about being there to create the most perfect experience!
Why start a Travel Company?
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
We are always asked: Why did you open a Travel Consulting Company with so much competition on the Internet?
Our answer: “We love to spoil our clients and make them happy. Our goal is to add super special touches you cannot get elsewhere. We’re not just looking for the next sale, our goal is to earn our clients trust, confidence, and loyalty in our consulting business for years to come.“
We don’t charge our clients directly, we make our money through the vendors we book vacations through, companies who provide our travel and accommodations.
So, what you may ask, do we exactly do?
We are in the relationship building business. Our goal is to earn our client’s business, one client at a time. We serve executives, families and couples. Our clientele are people who desire "concierge service" we provide, and professional expertise from start to finish. Most of our clients want someone to handle all the details for them because, they desire peace of mind that their entire trip is going to be taken care of. They get to save the time and effort of going through the information themselves-sorting through websites, recommendations and pricing to compare. No two trips are alike-each is very individualized and unique.
Why do what so many other agencies are already doing?
What we were finding is, if you are doing travel yourself, the online information is not only so very overwhelming, but extremely subjective. It's a huge risk with your own funds and limited free time at stake. We really try to personalize and customize each and every trip to our client’s exact specifications. We realize you can spend hours and hours online researching that “perfect vacation” but having a specialist who knows the industry and can provide this service for free, is a real plus.
Our cost for consulting is free to you…but our knowledge is priceless!
My packing list of little, handy items (some not-so-obvious) to always bring on a cruise:
1. A highlighter – With so many exciting activities to pick from in the daily schedule, this makes picking my "must-do’s" much easier.
2. Extra hangers – I sure know how to fill a closet up quickly!
3. Sticky notes & pen – So I can leave messages for the others I'm traveling with.
4. Small umbrella – For short Caribbean showers. This fits easily into my bag that I take on shore!
5. Magnetic chip clips – Hang clothes to dry, pin up notes on the metal door, pin down towels to beach chairs on a windy deck, the possibilities are endless. My New Favorite Chair Clips: Boca Clips!
Why not make your own list! What do you bring? Comment below.
How to Budget for Your Honeymoon- By Jenifer Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
Did you know that the average Honeymoon is 7 nights and will average in cost at over $5,000! Your budget may be higher (or lower) but most will average in this general price range. Setting your budget up ahead of time, it will help you in the decision making process as you can discover what may be dreams and what’s more realistic.
The sooner you plan for your Honeymoon (the further the date is out) generally the prices are cheaper. You can even put that Honeymoon on a payment plan...Yes, it's possible! Place a small deposit down and then make payments, generally up to 60 days prior to traveling!
We have a detailed spreadsheet where you can add up these costs (actually it auto calculates it all for you) based upon what you add into the budgeting sheet. Request our Free Honeymoon Budget Form today!
Honeymoon Tip: Did you know you can use a honeymoon registry, such as HoneyFund, where your friends and family can actually contribute towards your honeymoon as a wedding gift?
Honeymoons that traditionally take place at special times of the year tend to be costlier (think supply and demand). Could you possibly choose a better season to travel?
We’re here to help you plan your Dream Honeymoon, by saving you time having to research for hours and hours, and eliminating as many tasks and stress off your plate, as much as possible.
Think of your “must have” items needed for your Dream Honeymoon, and then consider prioritizing from there. Don’t forget the romance, fun and budget at the same time. You want to have the Honeymoon of your dreams, but don’t want to spend the next year after that, eating Ramen and Hot Dogs every night for dinner!
5 Quick Questions to Ask Your Travel Agent!
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
1. What Great Deals can you get for me on Travel?
There are deals going all the time, some sweet packages are on sale all the time and some places are cheaper at particular times to go than others. Be sure to ask!
2. What’s the Cancellation Policy on the Vacation Package?
We always say: Get Insurance! You never know when a tragedy can strike home, or a death in the family could become unexpected. Insurance covers you for these unfortunate events that can happen. Trip insurance is a small cost for that extra piece of mind.
3. When’s the Best Time to go, to this Location?
Some places are less crowded and have better weather at certain times of the year, be sure to find out from your consultant.
4. What is something Particular or Special I should know about this Location before I go?
You may need to know something about the culture before you travel overseas, or maybe the language (or cabs) are a challenge to navigate.
5. Where have you sent other Couples to and they absolutely Loved it?
If you don’t know where to go for your honeymoon or dream vacation, be sure to ask your travel consultant. Chances are they have clients or their colleagues have clients who have been to that exact location. Knowledge is power!
Seven Reasons you Need a Travel Agent’s Help- By Jen Campbell
Escape Destinations Travel Blog- Exploring our favorite travel places with You!