Sure, travel agents love their customers--but as in any loving relationship, little things can drive them crazy. Here are some tips to make you the perfect client that your travel agent wants to do business with over and over again.
1. Never make your travel agent do all the research for you and then book the trip yourself online. (And if you do, do not post pictures on Facebook showing your family at the resort your travel agent found for you.) Really, you know that’s not fair. And it’s not smart, either. Travel agents often can get you extra perks. And if things go wrong, they will have your back.
2. If you ask a travel agent for a quote, get back to him or her even if the answer is no. It’s always better to know what happened rather than to just be left hanging.
3. Don’t say you are “flexible” about dates when you really are not. Be specific about when you can go and when you cannot.
4. Be mindful of the fact that the package you find for $50 cheaper likely is not the same package your travel agent found. Does it include transfers and direct flights, for example?
5. Give your travel agent a realistic budget up front. A reputable travel agent will find you a great vacation within your price range, not try to sell you more.
6. Don’t expect to just “pick their brain” for free advice. Like doctors or lawyers, travel agents are professionals, and their advice is reserved for customers.
7. Be realistic about what your travel agent can do for you. They do not work for the State Department; if you lose your passport, they can tell you what to do, but they cannot get you another one. And if you do not take trip insurance, they cannot get your money back if you have to cancel.
8. Don’t ask for advice and then not follow it because you think you know better. You are asking for professional advice from people who have spent years educating themselves about the ins and outs of travel. Odds are they really do know what they are talking about. (And if not, pick another travel agent!)
9. Remember that planning a trip takes time, and that travel agents have lives. And other customers. Don’t call at midnight and expect to get a complete itinerary by 9 a.m.
10. Understand that airline prices only go up. If you don’t book it today, it will cost more tomorrow. There is nothing your travel agent can do about it.
11. Read the paperwork. Especially if you are traveling out of the country.