Tales From the Travel Advisor Front

You’ve got to feel for travel advisors.

Sure, the COVID-19 pandemic, war, climate change and surging price inflation have impacted everyone. But travel advisors, unlike most of us, pursue a livelihood reliant on their ability to sell vacations. And it’s not getting easier.

However, it’s true that smart and talented advisors are profiting from a flush period as consumers, desperate to escape two years of pandemic-imposed earthly shackles (a phenomenon we journalists call “pent-up demand”), are returning to the skies, the high seas and the roadways.

So it’s not as if hard-working travel advisors aren’t being rewarded for their efforts. But oh, the cost of doing business! It’s fair to say travel sellers face trepidation, uncertainty and downright confusion looming in every encounter.

How do I know? Because I’ve read each of the 111 responses (and counting) to a question posted this week on the members-only Travel Advisors Selling the Caribbean (TASC) site: “What is something that surprised you when you became a travel advisor?”

The feedback to this query reveals the frequent challenges, frustrations and rewards attached to selling travel, along with the many puzzling and plain bizarre requests advisors field daily.

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Not surprisingly, many of the challenges are tied to money. Apparently, many consumers lack a clear understanding of travel costs. One advisor simply commented: “Today: $ 1,500 budget for an AI [all-inclusive] in Jamaica for six days. For two people. ” Yes, that budget may cover one guest for that period.

Another advisor was even more succinct in outing a penny-pinching client, commenting simply: “Five people in one room.” A colleague was equally brief: “No discounts on flights!” [Note to readers: She actually used three exclamation points, but I think you understand her frustration, so I removed two.]

Some TASC advisors compared the cost-focused requests they’ve received to popular game shows. “I literally told a client once, ‘This is not Let’s Make a Deal,'” said Dan. “He straightened up after that. Mostly. LOL. ” Said another TASC member advisor: “Gotta love the clients asking for only ‘amazing deals’ like we are ‘The Price Is Right’.”

“How I hate the word ‘deal,'” complained another advisor. “Also, people coming to me with an unreal budget, [like] $ 5,000 for eight nights in Greece for five people, but ‘will up the budget if they really need to.’ Sheesh! ”

Some Americans appear determined to vacation regardless of personal circumstance. “Can I book a trip to Aruba?” one advisor’s client asks. “I said, ‘Of course.’ He replied, ‘Can I use six credit cards?’ OMG stay home! ” [One exclamation point removed].

Lest you surmise travel advisors are solely fixated on cost, several addressed the long hours and hard work required to be an effective retailer. “For me, it was how much selling is involved with this job,” said Debbie. “I think that’s one that surprises a lot of other travel advisors I’ve talked to!”

Heather in turn was surprised by “How much there is to learn,” while Tiffany alluded to the personal toll involved in planning vacations for demanding, eager-to-travel customers, expressing surprise at “How stressful it can be.” She added, “Most stressful job I’ve ever had. Does not appear that way from the outside looking in! ”

Nalysha lamented over “How much work is truly involved! Dang. Also, that travel agents are not part-time. We’re always on the clock. Ugh. ” And Lakesha pointed to “How everyone wants to shop the internet for the best deals but wants your recommendations and assistance navigating their travel.”

Other advisors reflected on unexpected lessons learned on the road to creating success. Vince was surprised by “The amount of marketing we have to do. And the fact that, at least for me, print marketing and radio marketing does not work. Knowing that ahead of time would have saved me a ton of money. ”

Some responses are most appropriately placed in the “strange” category: “The incredibly stupid questions that people have,” said one advisor, “Like ‘Do I have to wear a seat belt on the ship?’ What? ” [Three exclamation points removed].

Cheri also serviced clients with what can only be described as identify issues. She mentioned “How many people do not go by their legal names.”

Added Cheri, “I’m not talking Mike / Micheal. I have had so many clients whose name they go by isn’t their first or even middle name [and] acquaintances who go by their husband’s name but never legally changed it or in one instance [isn’t] legally married! ”

Other TASC advisors lamented “How little others know about travel. Things you never thought you’d have to tell adults, like ‘Yes, you need a passport to travel outside the US and yes, the Bahamas is not in the US’ ”

Meanwhile Annie raised a point mentioned by several advisors, saying she was initially surprised by “How few friends and family will actually book with you. I can not say I mind now, but I really thought when I started that so many people I knew would go through me. My best customers come from referrals and are people I do not know. ”

Finally, there’s the routine “TMI” encounter we journalists also face at times: “Folks want to tell me their WHOLE LIFE STORY. [Caps retained here]. “Please … please just stop.”

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