Picking the Best Travel Agent:
A How-To Guide
You’re finally taking that vacation: good for you! But you soon discover that choosing the right travel advisor is almost as hard as narrowing down the destination. And yes, you absolutely do need an advisor. Still not convinced? Try this helpful, 10-question test:
Do You Really Need to Hire an Expert? (Give yourself one point for every question you answer in the affirmative.)
- Are you traveling outside your country’s borders?
- Will there be any connecting flights?
- Is it very important to get perks such as late checkout, restaurant reservations, or private access to museums? (Add a half-point for each additional perk checked.)
- Does anyone in your traveling party have allergies or any other special needs?
- Is anyone in your traveling party unvaccinated?
- Are you going to a location where you don’t speak the language?
- Do you plan to go to locations where internet or phone service is spotty?
- Are you traveling with a large group?
- Do you prefer a cultural travel experience over a resort-focused vacation?
- Is this a last-minute trip?
Results – Any score of 3 or greater means you need to find a professional.
So how do you choose the right travel advisor for you?
It’s not overly complicated – or shouldn’t be. A good travel advisor will make both the planning process and the actual trip seamless. Here’s how to select that advisor in three easy steps.
First: Work With Someone Local
Ask your friends. Seek recommendations from trusted members of your community. This is a relationship-based service and one you don’t want to outsource. Do a quick Google search to find an advisor close to you. Then meet with the advisor face-to-face. Expect to have a 20 – 30 minute initial consultation. At KBR Travel, we call this the Discovery Chat.
You don’t know what you don’t know – and a travel advisor is a travel planning expert – so don’t be afraid to interview them. Ask them about their experiences and why they became advisors. Find out how long they have been in the business. See if they can work with your budget. Discuss how they would handle challenging or tricky situations. Find out their favorite travel destinations, and let them tell you why. Just make sure that the conversation is a two-way street. A good advisor should ask you questions and understand why you want to plan a trip. This should be a relaxed, enjoyable experience. If not, move on. Don’t hire the first advisor you find; make sure you have established a good rapport.
Second: Choose a Well-Trained, Legitimate Advisor
Is the advisor a member of ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) and other reputable organizations? ASTA is the largest association of travel professionals, and members “pledge to conduct their business activities in a manner that promotes the ideal of integrity in travel and, as an express condition of membership in the association, to act in accordance with all applicable provisions of the ASTA Code of Ethics”.
Members commit to acting in the best interest of their clients. Vetting topics include:
- Conflicts of Interest
Basically, this Code of Ethics weeds out undesirables providing deceptive practices and services.
Beyond this initial benchmark, you should also look for specialty designations or certifications. KBR Travel is an Andavo Travel Affiliate and Virtuoso Member. Virtuoso is an exclusive network of the best luxury host travel agencies and advisors in the business. Members can secure elite amenities and upgrades for their clients and utilize a vast network of the world’s best local experts who can provide superior service in more than 100 countries.
Third: Work with Someone Who Understands Your Expectations/Travel Vibe
It may seem intuitive, but does the agent actually enjoy travel? Are they curious about the world and look forward to meeting new people and seeing foreign places? If at any point in your conversation, you feel the planner is mindlessly taking notes, punching in your requests, and saying “uh-huh” as you describe your dream vacation – RUN! You want an advisor that is passionate about travel and someone who lights up when you tell them your bucket list.
Most worthwhile advisors experienced a trip that changed them for the better. The best advisors want their clients to experience a similar moment and are committed to executing that. Remember that each trip should be as unique as the individual, and make sure they listen to what you want to get out of your vacation. Be wary of agents offering packages and deals they want to sell rather than what you are asking for.
Go Ahead – Find Your Perfect Advisor and Book Your Trip
The right travel advisor will plan a trip that exceeds your expectations. Let KBR Travel plan an adventure you will never forget!