Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you refer to yourself as a “Travel Advisor” and not a “Travel Agent?”
Travel agents of old were order takers and fulfillers. Communication between an agent and client was based on individual transactions and largely reactionary. An agent was more like an extension of the travel supplier, e.g. airline or hotel, and not a valuable counselor to the client.
My relationship with clients as a travel advisor is much different. I build long term relationships with my clients, getting to know their needs, wants and desires. I learn their unique situations. Our conversations and interactions build my holistic knowledge of my clients, allowing me to be proactive. As such, I am able to anticipate concerns and make suggestions based on my client’s history. Like any trusted family counselor, I relish working with the next generation. Finally, as an advisor, I advocate exclusively for my clients. I am not an extension of a particular hotel, cruise line or supplier and do not have quotas or expectations to fulfill.
Hasn’t the internet made travel advisors obsolete?
The answer is a resounding “NO.” The internet is friend, not foe. It enables me to communicate speedily and accurately with clients and suppliers the world over. I am able to research options through proprietary web sites not available to consumers. And, consumer directed sites can provide amazing information which I also utilize.
The value of a travel advisor extends to the actions the internet cannot provide and actually inhibits. Everything looks great on the internet (if the web designer has done a good job). An advisor culls through the copious internet information, separates the detritus from the gems, and possesses product knowledge that is not available online.
As a Virtuoso travel advisor, I also can extend added benefits like room upgrades and breakfast for two at many luxury properties. My extensive personal relationships with hoteliers allow me to VIP my clients, a truly memorable experience. And, I will pick up the phone during a pandemic, hurricane or other time of need. Artificial intelligence has not yet learned to replicate these human behaviors.
Do you specialize in any particular destination or type of travel?
I am a client specialist, not a destination or vehicular specialist. My job is to understand the nuances of my clients’ preferences. I have, quite fortunately, traveled to and through over 60 countries and all but one continent, via land, sea, intimate visit and group tour. I will never claim to know it all, but I am very well equipped to learn what I don’t already know. At my disposal are the vast resources of the Virtuoso supplier network as well as the accumulated knowledge of my Largay Travel colleagues. Being a former attorney, if good for no other reason, honed my research skills.
How do you get paid?
My compensation comes through two sources, commissions and planning fees. Commissions generally represent 10-15% of the cost of a quoted travel component. Many items, however, do not pay commission. Regardless of whether a booking actually materializes, I spend considerable time preparing proposals, liaising with suppliers and interacting with clients. I am compensated by means of nonrefundable professional fees for this expertise, proprietary information and time. On occasion, I consult on trips for which a client wants to do the booking. For this and other unique situations, the client and I agree upon a fee schedule prior to the start of any work.
Describe the planning/booking process.
The first and most important step in trip planning is a comprehensive discussion between a client and me. We discuss everything trip-related, from trip location, goals and interests, to must-haves and deal-breakers. I estimate the potential fees associated with the booking. If it seems that the client and I would be a good fit, I collect the nonrefundable planning fee and begin my work.
Since the planning process is at all times collaborative, I present an initial proposal as a starting point, and then I dialogue with the client until the trip is fully planned. The planning and anticipation of a trip are a huge part of total trip satisfaction for my clients and me. During the course of a trip, I am available to help with potential issues. Even after the trip ends, I connect with my clients. I want to hear all about what worked and what might have been better. This feedback enables me to make necessary adjustments for future trips.
Can I get an itemization of all costs?
If I am quoting just a hotel or air, my client will get an exact price. For more complex trips, several suppliers will give me a break down of costs, which I can forward to my client. Many reputable suppliers, however, only give a total trip price. The cost of the trip then can be adjusted by making changes in the itinerary. It is no different than booking a group tour or a cruise. With my 20+ years of experience, I know which suppliers provide the value commensurate with their pricing.
Will it cost more to work with you than if I booked everything myself?
I endeavor to provide the best price/value ratio. Many times, what I quote is the same or less than what one could book oneself. Frequently, my quoted items include amenities not available in a competing quote. That being said, if getting the absolute least expensive pricing on a trip is the goal, one is best doing a DIY. After all, my compensation does not come out of thin air (pardon the pun).
Do you only work in luxury travel?
My expertise is in properties and services rated four star (first class) or more luxurious. The industry standards governing such ratings are unambiguous, and I am assured of meeting or exceeding my clients’ expectations. In locations where properties do not comport with four star + standards, I look to book the “best of.” Additionally, I love working with the Millennials and Gen Z who might not have a first class budget. I have several intriguing options to pique their interest.
What are your hours and do you have backup?
I am available Mon-Fri from 9am to 5:30pm for regular travel planning. I will also schedule calls during the early evening or on weekends, as needed. My clients have my cell phone for emergency assistance. When I am away from the office, I have the full backup of my colleagues at Largay Travel.