Why a Travel Agent is a Traveler’s Friend

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Why a Travel Agent is a Traveler's Friend

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The travel industry is changing rapidly – especially with the Internet easily accessible from practically any point in the world. A lot of travelers have decided to book flights, hotels, and tours by themselves. Some were pleased by being able to do everything independent of travel agencies, and some were not satisfied with arranging travel on their own. Today we are going to cover the most important issues for any traveler to consider when deciding whether to use the services of a travel advisor or to plan their own trip

When you are thinking about a future trip, you imagine it a certain way. You want to get particular emotions, experience specific activities, and have positive feelings and memories when you return home. Imagine that you had followed advice from the Internet or the suggestions of some friends, but your emotions at the end of a trip were not as bright and favorable as you had hoped they would be.

Why a Travel Agent is a Traveler's Friend

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Why did it happen? You seemed to gather enough information, prepare wisely and be 100% ready for your trip. The answer is simple: people are different and so are their tastes and preferences. You could never be sure that the hotels, resorts, and activities that your friends suggested would also be good for you.

You may have different aims and goals for your travel; you may like different activities, be fond or not of sightseeing, shopping, museums, or sports. Or you can simply have different values: one person will put accommodations first on their “list of travel issues,” and another one doesn’t care much about the conditions s/he lives in – but adores tours, diverse activities, and nightlife.

How to choose smoothly and find the best variant for your future trip?

Why a Travel Agent is a Traveler's Friend

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The answer is simple: ask someone who has traveled to a particular destination dozens of times and knows PRECISELY about various activities, accommodations, transfers, and tours in the chosen destination. It is hard, however, to find such a person –especially one who has recently been to the preferred location and knows the latest trends and news from there.

If you succeed in finding this person – how lucky you are! But if you don’t – you can just ask for advice from a travel agent. They will understand the type of traveler you are and give you the most current, useful, and specific suggestions.

Why a Travel Agent is a Traveler's Friend

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He or she will plan your trip in the best possible way. Travel advisors do not just arrange a trip by booking flights, hotels, and tours; they know everything about your travel and almost go with you, constantly asking for feedback and sharing your emotions.

If you want your trip to be ideal – ask a professional Travel Advisor for help. This person will become your friend and make your travel perfect.

Published: 25/08/2017

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Travel Tips while Visiting Chile

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Geographically, Chile is one of the narrowest countries in the world, stretching no more than 150 miles at its widest point. It is also safe, friendly, and interesting; any traveler can find a number of exciting places to visit from beautiful snow-capped volcanoes to delightful wineries, and the famed Maoi sculptures of Easter Island.

Here are our main suggestions, which we advise you to read before going to this South American country:

  • Visit Chile’s Capital
Santiago, Chile

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Chile is one of the most innovative and advanced countries. If you come here, you should plan to visit its fabulous capital Santiago for a few days. This is a highly innovative and attractive city, very cosmopolitan and energetic, with amazing urban landscapes, historical museums and busy nightlife.

Enjoy the beauty of unique architecture and the grandeur of the capital’s big fashion malls located in the central area of the city called “Centro”. Here you can feel the bustling vibes and lively commercial life, witness its varied cosmopolitan population, and understand how expansive this metropolis is.

After a few hours in the “Centro”, take a calm relaxing stroll along the pedestrian pathways of Hillside Park. You can enjoy an afternoon picnic in one of the greenest and most natural areas of Chile’s urban capital.

Santiago, Chile

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Enjoy your evening while taking pictures of the innovative buildings and try local foods at sidewalk eateries. For those who want to enjoy the energetic nightlife of Santiago, we suggest visiting one of the many bars and clubs of the famous Barrios Brasil, Lastarria and Bellavista. For those who are amused by calmer high-class evenings, the city can offer you many luxury restaurants and hotels located east in wealthy neighborhoods like Providencia and Las Condes.

  • Cross the country from the North to the South
Chile

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The territory of Chile extends from the tropics down to Antarctica, and the climate, traditions, cuisine, and way of life vary depending on location: many issues in the north of the country differ from the ones you can experience in the south. Those differences make Chile even more attractive to tourists from various corners of the world.

Start from the high-tech hub of Santiago, and continue on to discover Patagonia National Park where you can hike along glaciated landscapes. After coming to Puerto Montt, hike a volcano and enjoy biking, fishing, and rafting while having a Lake District adventure. Move on to southern Torres del Paine, Easter Island, and Chiloé Island to learn more about the culture, history and cuisine of the country.

  • Try some seafood at the local fish markets
Chile

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Though there are a huge number of restaurants, cafes, and even street shops offering seafood meals, we suggest that you not refuse buying seafood at a fish market. There is no doubt that it would be the tastiest seafood you can possibly try in Chile.

The most popular traditional seafood dishes in Chile are zos (large sea urchins), caldillo de congrio (a soup made of pink cusk-eel, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and spices), cochayuyo (seaweed), and sopa de mariscos (seafood soup).

  • Take a ride in a micro or colectivo
Chile

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“Micros” are the buses that take you from one Chilean city to another. “Colectivos” are a special, very interesting kind of taxi that takes four passengers and drives them along a specific route. It is a very comfortable means of transportation considering that the fare is low and the route is close to main attractions.

Published: 14/08/2017

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A Travel Advisor On When (And Why) You Should Buy Travel Insurance

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Like any form of insurance, travel insurance can be overwhelming. When do you need it? Do you need it all? What does all the fine print mean? We turned to Virtuoso travel advisor Tiffany Figueiredo, who is based in Fort Worth, for details on when and why she advises her clients to purchase insurance.

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Should clients purchase travel insurance for every trip, even a weekend getaway? 

“I recommend insurance on domestic trips that have non-refundable components like hotels, transfers or tours, and on all international trips. In fact, if clients are traveling internationally and choose not to purchase insurance, I require them to sign a waiver. I want them to have medical coverage in the event they are sick or injured while traveling. People assume their regular insurance will cover them abroad and that is not always the case. The companies I work with offer policies on a trip-by-trip basis, but I also recommend MedjetAssist, which offers annual plans.

What insurance companies do you work with the most, and why?

I work mainly with Travelex because of my good relationship and history with them. They have gone to bat for my clients in several instances, and while filing an insurance claim is not something anyone wants to do, Travelex has provided assistance with the process and has been very fair. In some cases, vendor insurance, like that offered through a cruise line, is sufficient.

travel advisor

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When has travel insurance mattered for a client of yours?

The primary purpose of travel insurance is to cover the cost of delays or cancellations, but the medical assistance benefits cannot be overstated. Last year, I had a client traveling alone in Europe who suffered a serious, totally unexpected heart episode on her second day in Rome. She had purchased Travelex insurance, and they stepped in right away, talking with her family, making sure her doctors in Italy communicated with her doctor at home, and even covered the cost to upgrade her return flight once she was released, as her doctors would not let her fly economy. They provided assistance for the five days she was in the hospital and again once we were ready to file the claim. That same week, I was on a work trip in Spain when one of my fellow travelers took a hard fall over a loose cobblestone and broke her hip. She was flown home via medical jet with a nurse onboard thanks to travel insurance.

What do plans actually cover?

Each policy is different. You may not get 100 percent of your money back for a thunderstorm that causes a huge delay. It’s up to the client and agent to thoroughly understand what they are buying and what they foresee needing to cover.

Terrorist activity is usually only covered when the client’s exact destination has been attacked within a specific timeframe. So, you can’t cancel Normandy because there was a subway bombing in Paris. And you can’t cancel Paris because of something that occurs more than 30 days before your trip there. However, I haven’t had a single client want to cancel a trip because of a terrorist attack.

To get a policy that you can cancel for any reason, shop early, because this benefit is only available for a short amount of time from the initial trip deposit date. Once the first payment is made toward the trip –  whether for a flight, lodging, cruise, or other –  travelers have between 14 and 30 days to buy coverage. Most policies offer this benefit as a selectable upgrade, which will raise the premium cost by about 50 percent.

“Cancel for any reason” requires that all prepaid and non-refundable trip costs be insured on the policy. This means travelers don’t have the option to only insure a flight and not the cruise. Bottom line, if it’s paid before the departure date and the money would be lost if the trip were cancelled, it has to be listed on the policy.

travel advisor

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Any tips or tricks to filing claim paperwork and getting the maximum reimbursement?

Save all receipts, first and foremost. I will have already documented the cost of the trip, but if it’s delayed or cut short, clients will have to provide receipts for the cost of meals, taxis, hotels, clothing, and toiletries that were incurred as a result. For a medical situation, they’ll need to make sure the doctor fills out his or her portion of the paperwork very specifically and correctly. Don’t be vague – that’s the general trick to not having the claim kicked back or denied.

There are gray areas on the forms, and my best advice is to fill out the claim with your travel advisor, who can call the insurer directly to clear up any questions. If the claim is denied, the advisor can help again, providing additional details or calling his or her insurance company rep to see if it’s something that can be remedied.

travel advisor

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Any more tips?

If you feel that the cost of insuring a trip is prohibitive (or don’t care about getting your money back), you can purchase a plan without trip cancellation.

You won’t be reimbursed for the cost of the trip if it’s cancelled, but you will still get many of the in-travel benefits such as trip delay, emergency medical, lost or delayed baggage, and so on. The cost is quite a bit lower and worth looking into for those services.”

Published: 10/08/2017

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Reasons to Use A Travel Advisor in 2017

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The proportion of people who independently arrange their own tourist trips abroad is quite small. According to various estimates, it is 10-13% of the total volume.

Despite the fact that the market for independent travel is growing (due to an increased number of hotel and ticket booking systems) there are still many more adherents of organized tourism in general. Independent tourism is not only fraught with troubles, it is also expensive.

ravel or tourist concept - map and destination signs on it. Close-up.

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The independent tourist is a person who determines the route of the trip, books hotels himself, buys flight tickets, arranges cars and transfers, and also takes care of visas and medical insurance.

That people decide to travel independently from a desire to save money is not entirely true.

Most people who organize their own trips do so because of the dearth of tour packages offered – especially for countries that are not popular in the mass tourism market.

travel advisor

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Separate bookings of future segments on popular travel routes are 30% more expensive on average. At the same time, self-booking earns a commission or fee for the booking system that is no less than the one charged by travel agencies in the price of their package tours.

Organizing trips independently does not seem so economical when these factors are taken into consideration.

The growth of independent tourism is conditioned primarily by the desire of some tourists to conquer more and more new destinations.

For most other “organized tourists” who go to popular countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Thailand – families with children and people who want to save time but get full service for their money – it is cheaper to buy packaged tours.   

Why the Cheapness of Independent Travel is a Myth

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Countries where it is less expensive to visit on your own include Cambodia, China, Singapore, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Switzerland.

The difference between purchasing a tour and paying for tickets and hotels yourself can range from 45% (Cambodia, Singapore) to 70% (China, Switzerland, Ireland).

In Turkey, Croatia, Latvia, and UAE it is 15-25% cheaper to buy a tour than to book a trip independently. Traveling as part of a tour group to Malaysia can result in savings of 65%; Greece – 60%;  Sweden and Tunisia – 30%.

Why the Cheapness of Independent Travel is a Myth

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There is also a question of visas. Depending on your citizenship, you might not be able to go to Japan, for example, without a travel agent – because to get a visa there you need an original invitation from a company that will act as your guarantor.

Hotels and hostels, as a rule, do not make such invitations, so the only way for some to get into Japan is to use the service of a travel agency.

Interest in “indie” travel has increased since many people think it is cheaper and more secure; however, this is not always the case. Most importantly, the tourist who travels on his own should understand that he alone is responsible for the entire trip.

Pretty young female tourist studying a map at St. Peter's square in the Vatican City in Rome

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In 2010, when flights over Europe were interrupted for an extended period after eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, there was a reverse trend away from independent tourism.

Self-tourists had been totally stranded by the force majeure situation that no one could have foreseen.

Other tourists were protected through their travel agents – who provided them with hotel rooms at no additional expense, organized alternative modes of transportation, and offered other support services.

Why the Cheapness of Independent Travel is a Myth

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The reverse trend intensified when the Italian company Wind Jet went bankrupt in August 2012. Tourists realized that there was a cost to independence, which, in fact, made tour tickets more economical.

This basically caused many tourists who had gone on independent trips to return to their travel agents.

Travel or tourism concept. Passport, airplane, airtickets

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The Global Business Travel Association, after interviewing nearly 4000 business travelers from around the world, found that 35% of respondents had gone back to traditional travel planning because they did not know who to contact to resolve unforeseen problems that had come up during their self-arranged trips.

So, as you see, organizing travel by yourself is sometimes cheaper and easier. Nonetheless, in case of an emergency or force majeure situation, a travel agent will deal with most issues and assume overall responsibility for your comfort and safety on a trip. 

Published: 31/07/2017

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Contact our Travel Advisors:1.877.999.4768