Why You Shouldn't DIY Your Travel Plans!
The world is slowly starting to re-open and many of you are getting ready to start scratching the travel itch. And trust me, if you're personally comfortable with traveling right now, I'm in FULL support! I've actually gotten fantastic feedback from clients who have already returned to traveling about the great job resorts are doing to keep locations sanitary and comply with social distancing guidelines - many who've even said they've preferred recent trips over those scheduled pre-pandemic.
If you're personally ready to get back to the jet-setting lifestyle, there are still a lot of factors to consider when it comes to planning your trip that we never had to worry about in the past. And believe me when I say - I've had a front row seat to both the horror stories and the success stories that have come from this situation which I'm sharing below, so keep reading!
So how do you navigate it all?
You may have heard me talk about the benefits and importance of working with a Travel Agent, which always rings true regardless of circumstance. But if you're planning on traveling post-pandemic (in the next 2 years or so), it's especially critical to invite the expertise of a Travel Agent to your planning table.
Travel Requirements are changing all-the-time!
If we haven't learned anything else over the past year-plus of #thisCOVIDlife, it's that everything can change on a dime and we have to be prepared to be flexible - especially when we're trying to maintain some sort of normalcy to life as we know it. Sure, there is a wealth of information on the web related to travel restrictions that is being updated all the time and reported to the public by reputable agencies...
...but do you really want to take on the task of continuously checking for updates AND needing to advocate for your own changes if necessary? My guess is - probably not. Not only that, if you're not properly prepared with accurate information about what traveling to/from your planned destinations entails right now, you could run into issues that seriously hold up or even require unanticipated cancellation of your much-needed vacation.
All of SBE's clients receive details on destination-specific guidelines, step-by-step compliance instructions, and regular reminders from the time we first meet for their consultation and all the way up to the time they leave for the airport. This means there are no surprises that could hold up or cancel your trip (ex: a required COVID test or submission of travel authorization forms)! You'll know exactly what needs done and when, allowing a stress-free planning experience and no concerns about being turned away at the airport!
Imagine arriving to the airport with your new spouse by your side, ear-t0-ear smiles as you get ready to celebrate your recent marriage in paradise, and learning that travel requirements changed since you last checked for updates and you're no longer qualified for travel. Haven't we been through enough lately?! Don't do it to yourself!
You can get hit with an unexpected challenge from your favorite DIY travel site!
Many people don't realize this, but when you use a service like Expedia or Travelocity, your resort and flight are booked separately. Airlines are pushing back service restart dates and changing flight schedules ALL. THE. TIME. But when this happens, they don't communicate those changes to other vacation suppliers - your resort, for example.
True story: I had a client come to me after DIY-ing a booking on a travel site who later learned that her flight schedule had been changed. And we're not talking an hour or two delay here - this flight change meant an entire shift of her travel dates would be required. Not only were they late in communicating this change to her, but they also don't notify the resort, so she was pretty much on her own in cleaning up the mess. This would have required *hours* on hold with the airline and then again with the resort, little to no sympathy or support from either supplier, and may have even meant cancelling the whole trip would have been required.
Luckily, she was able to submit for a refund, allowing her to restart the planning process with yours truly and we were able to actually SAVE her money compared to her original booking at a comparable resort (which was actually an upgrade to what she'd booked on her own). However, it's important to understand this is not typical. It's not uncommon for similar stories to end with the inability to get a refund and the customer losing money while also losing their ability to travel.
As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, travel site Booking.com unexpectedly shut down - leaving thousands of customers stranded at their vacation destinations because Booking had never transferred the customer payments made on their site to the resorts they were staying at! All of their call centers were closed, and there was no way to reach anyone in the company for assistance. Customers were even directed to their banks to file disputes rather than receive refunds from Booking. Talk about a mess! (Read more about it here)
When you work with a Travel Agent, we take the worry and the guesswork completely off of your plate. In instances where there is a problem with a flight, resort, or otherwise, your travel agent steps up as your advocate and comes to you with solutions instead of problems. You can shift your focus to pure excitement about your trip rather than worry about wasting precious resources like your time and money!
A change in a resort's re-opening plan can throw a wrench in all your plans!
What would you do if you found out your resort decided to push back their reopen date a week before you were scheduled to arrive?!
True Story: I have a client who booked an 8-day/7-night honeymoon trip to St. Lucia for May 2021. One of the items on their honeymoon wish list was a suite with a private plunge pool. The suites at the first resort they were interested in had sold out by the time they were ready to book, so we found them a comparable option with swim-out suite availability.
All was well and good until about a week before their final payment was due - and then we get a notification from the resort that their reopening date had been pushed back and they wouldn't be open in time for this couple's trip! Luckily for me, this was a very understanding and flexible couple (which makes my job so easy!), and when it was all said and done, we ended up switching them to Jamaica instead of St. Lucia, in an upgraded Presidential Suite with a private pool. Not only was there no additional cost to the couple, but we were even able to save them about $1000 on the total of their trip.
And the best part? No sitting on hold or having dreaded conversations with resort staff for them! I was able to approach them with suggestions and solutions ready to go, provide them with all the information they needed to make the best choice, and then follow through with the suppliers once their decision had been made. All they had to do was sit back and watch that booking refund hit their account and now they'll be on the beach with cocktails in their hands before they know it.
These are just a few examples of situations and challenges I've seen first hand, and these things are unfortunately happening to people every day. After the year we've had, don't let one more thing stand in the way of the getaway you need and deserve! If you still aren't sold on the value of a Travel Agent's expertise, check out this post for more reasons why Travel Agents are Your Friends!
Ready to hit the road?
Schedule a complimentary consultation today and let's chat about what your dream trip will really look like in this post-pandemic world. I can't wait to hear from you!
Founder + Lead Travel Consultant, Social Butterfly Express
Social Butterfly Express specializes in 100% custom travel experiences including destination weddings, honeymoons, bachelor/bachelorette parties, anniversary trips, and more! Get your custom quote here, and let us help make your travel dreams a reality!