Europe has always had a certain cachet about it (especially for Americans), offering culture, sophistication, romantic locales, history, shopping, and the most sublime cuisine. Now with the booming summer travel season upon us, here are some ideas on how travel advisors can help their clients make the most of their European adventures.
1. Prepare a start-to-finish itinerary
“We plan their trips from the moment our clients land to the time they leave to come home,” says Sally Jane Smith, president and CEO, TravelSmiths Inc. “As for many clients, it’s their first trip to Europe, we have people, our DMCs, meet them at the airport, and move them to their hotel, organize their tours, their meals, and visits to museums and local hotspots.
“We believe that vacation time is one of the most valuable assets that a person has. Over the course of the last couple years, people have been locked in their homes and have pent-up travel on their mind. We try to make the most of every minute that our clients have while on vacation.”
2. Share your first-hand experiences
As a seasoned travel advisor, you are the expert that travelers need. You know the locations, accommodations, attractions, restaurants, and transportation inside and out for Europe’s most sought-after and some off-the-beaten path experiences. And if you do not have the information on hand, you have the connections to source it quickly on your clients’ behalf.
“I help my clients by talking to them. In my profession, I have first-hand knowledge and I share my experiences, prepare expectations with my clients,” notes Mandee Migliaccio, CEO & travel specialist, Stepping Out Travel Services LLC.
3. Pair city and sea visits
Travelers need not choose between a relaxing beach stay or actively touring an iconic European city. You, their trusted travel advisor, can suggest a destination that combines both. Majorca, Spain, for instance offers the rich history and architecture, shopping, incredible cuisine, walkable neighborhoods, and vibrant nightlife of the city. But being conveniently located on one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, visitors can also enjoy an array of beaches, resorts, and activities on the waterfront.
4. Book early
“Book early, is one of the things that we have found about Europe, especially in this travel tsunami that we are witnessing. If you don’t book early, there’s not a whole lot left for quality hotels and tours,” says Smith.
Migliaccio agrees: “Europe is a hot destination currently. Availability is limited. If you are thinking about traveling to Europe, book in advance!”
5. Suggest traveling during the shoulder season
A tried-and-true travel strategy, suggesting that clients journey across the pond during shoulder season (April/May and September/October), offers two benefits. First, prices for some elements of the travel experience are often lower. And second, the crowds of tourists are fewer when avoiding the heart of the summer season.
6. Include a wonderful discovery
Every traveler wants to feel that they have experienced something special, a little bit different from what their friends or family have already done. Always try to suggest something that can lead to a wonderful discovery that will surprise and delight them, such as a side trip to a quaint village, a visit to a less-trodden attraction, or perhaps a spot where the locals like to go to eat.
7. Consider the classics and emerging destinations
Even though prices are sky-high right now, Europe is still an excellent vacation choice. Because, as Migliaccio says, “Europe stands the test of time. Whether you are traveling for adventure, culture, beach, culinary, relaxation, shopping, history and maybe a little of everything, Europe has it all!”
As for where to send clients, the classics remain London, Paris, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, and the rest of Italy, Greece, and Spain. Emerging hotspot destinations are Portugal, Croatia, and Spain (Majorca, in particular).
Smith says: “We believe that Europe has always been an outstanding place to visit. Even more now, after the lockdown, people had time to consider what they want to do with their lives, more importantly, their free time. There are so many interesting sites, things to see, places to visit in Europe … and they’ve already done the Caribbean, Mexico, etc.”
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