Over the past week, travel advisors from across the globe have been networking with top suppliers as part of Virtuoso Travel Week.
Note the word “advisor” – the word “agent” is almost never spoken, except in the context of explaining that a travel agent is transactional, while a travel advisor is a professional consultant.
Speaking with Misty Ewing Belles, director of public relations, she explained the value proposition of a good travel advisor, from the perspective of Virtuoso members.
Here are the four A’s that travel professionals should tout when advocating for their profession, as explained by Ewing:
The advice that they’re able to give is what initially attracts a consumer to a travel advisor. It’s having someone who is validating your choices.
What comes with the advice is the access; especially when you look at Virtuoso Travel Week and the face-to-face interactions that take place and the relationships that are formed here. The access our advisors are able to get because of their personal relationships is amazing and not something consumers would have on their own.
The consumer’s mind not initially consider this, but to have someone serve as your advocate throughout the entire trip is invaluable. For example, if their connecting flight is cancelled, the advisor knows and has a new connection booked the moment the client lands. It’s about having someone who is solely invested in making sure each trip goes exactly as it should and when it doesn’t, they can step in.
And that’s where the accountability comes in. When consumers work through an online channel, there is no recourse through a human being; even trying to navigate around a website to find the 800 number can be challenging. An advisor can help on two fronts: First, it’s an actual person who can help their client. Second, within Virtuoso, we have these amazing relationships with major buying power (the aggregated buying power of this organization is $15 billion) so suppliers are also invested in ensuring that Virtuoso clients travel well. It’s the added security of knowing that relationship – which is mutually dependent – is working toward a solution for the consumer.
“These four things, you can get in a combination of ones or twos,” Ewing said, “but you can’t get all four through any other booking channel except for working with a good, knowledgeable travel advisor.”