What Is a Specialty Travel Agent?
Travel agents who are certified or specialize in niche markets or destinations. They are agents who have responded to what consumers have been asking for, and that is simply, more from their travel experience. They are also agents who are passionate about their destination or niche. They have extensive first hand knowledge of their destination or specialty, which enables them to improve the consumers overall travel experience.
When do I need a Specialty Travel Agent?
In today’s computer savvy society, the question becomes, when do you make your own travel arrangements and when do you turn to the experts to make them for you? Many will depend on the internet information and spend countless hours researching their next vacation. Others will depend on local travel agents who will be able to assist. So when does one turn over their travel planning to the travel specialists?
When you are looking to take that “once in-a-lifetime” vacation, want a wedding or honeymoon with pizzazz, a customized itinerary, or just want something more out of your next vacation, a travel specialist will not only know where to stay, where to dine and what to see, but they will have the ability to cut through the red tape and make things happen that you simply cannot. They have the clout and the local connections to add extras to your trip. Oftentimes it’s an upgrade to your room, a chilled bottle of regional champagne awaiting your arrival, the best table in a desired restaurant or even a unique side trip or activity based on your interests. Specialty Travel Agents can go the extra mile in providing you with a travel experience that is truly a cut above the ordinary.
How do I find a Specialty Travel Agent?
1. Ask for recommendations from friends who have successfully used specialty travel agents to plan their vacations.
2.Check your local agency for agents with credentials like CTC, DS, and LS. The CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) certification is awarded to agents who have at least five years experience and have completed an educational program and exam. DS (Destination Specialist) agents have taken additional training in a destination throughout the world. Certified Destination Specialists have taken the comprehensive training in their destination and have had further education by actually visiting their specialty destination. LS (Lifestyle Specialist) agents have further developed their niche market through additional education. Certified Lifestyle Specialists have relevant travel experience in addition to the lifestyle education.
3.Check out the agent members listed on the Specialty Travel Agents Association website. They utilize a comprehensive search engine that allows you to search for specialty agents by destinations, niche markets, activities or interests. Agents must have a certification or have extensive experience in their specialty.
What should I expect once I find a Specialty Travel Agent?
Once you have found an agent you would like to use and feel comfortable with, be prepared to give lots of information about yourself and your personal preferences. For example, the type of hotel you like to stay in (boutique, B &B, or chain), what you like to do (lounge at the pool or spend hours in museums) and most important, your budget. After all, they will be making selections that best fit your travel needs. The more information you give them, the better suited to your individual preferences your itinerary will be. Don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want or to contact them during your trip if needed. Do be prepared to pay a service fee for their services. And don’t forget to recommend them to friends when you are happy with their service and knowledge. Specialty Travel Agents build their business on personal recommendations and satisfied travel customers!