Millennials today are using vacation days at the highest rate of any other generation. Of the 658 million vacation days that went unused in 2015, virtually none of them came from millennials. Not only are we using our paid days off to travel, millennials with families are spending twice as much on travel than millennial couples. We’re raising global citizens, and it’s a beautiful thing. The movement to collect experiences rather than physical things has been forged by our generation, and alongside this shift, we have also become the most demanding luxury consumers. We’re not demanding in the white glove, butler kind of way. Instead, we’re looking for hosts who will add a personal touch and some unique detail to our experiences.
And the key to all that, my fellow millennials, is planning ahead and using a travel advisor. The thought of using a travel agent might seem like a totally outdated idea, but it’s not. Here’s why.
Travel Advisors are the experts for the international destinations that you’ve never even been to.
You can’t really be a good travel advisor without being well-traveled yourself. So more often than not, these people have already been to the places that you want to go to. And when they haven’t personally traveled to a specific destination, they’re surrounded by a network of destination specialists and tourism boards who have all the information anyone could ever need. Plus they have multiple colleagues sitting right next to them who have probably been to wherever they haven’t.
They can make recommendations when you’re not sure where to go.
The world is vast and sometimes it’s difficult to just up and decide to where you’d like to go. A good travel advisor will get to know you and what type of experiences you enjoy so they can offer suggestions for your next trip. And on the other hand, you might be a traveler who knows exactly where you want to go, but you want to cram 15 days worth of activities into 6. In that case, a travel advisor can offer a tremendous amount of help in prioritizing which activities are not to be missed, and which can be just optional.
A travel advisor understands what you truly want to get out of each trip, even when you don’t.
One of Matador Network’s lead producers, Matt Hershberger, recently honeymooned with the help of a travel advisor. At first, Matt had big plans to do everything from skiing in the Alps to enjoying some scotch in the Scottish Highlands — all in one trip. But when he took all that to his travel advisor, they helped him to understand the logistics that would be required to actually complete a whirlwind endeavor like that around Europe — right after he got married.
Instead, Matt’s travel advisor offered suggestions based on his past personal experiences, which ultimately helped him to understand that the ideal honeymoon trip should probably be a little more relaxing and a little less adventurous. And as a result, Matt and his wife had a great time just hanging by the beach in Mexico for a couple weeks at an all-inclusive resort. According to Matt, he and his wife are not ‘all-inclusive’ people but it turned out to be ‘an amazing trip’ and like his advisor predicted, yeah, they weren’t ‘in any shape to do a super ambitious trip after the energy-suck that is a wedding.’
Researching a complicated, international itinerary takes time, and somebody’s gotta do it.
Travel advisors know that you’d prefer trying a new restaurant this weekend than spending 30+ hours Googling “what to do in Thailand.” And for travelers who enjoy the planning experience, a travel advisor is simply what they seem: an advisor. They’ll often come back with various options for hotels, experiences, and excursions, but you get the fun part of picking and choosing what interests you most. So you’ll be able to participate in the planning process without sacrificing your weekend plans or worrying about the boring details of how to get from the airport to your hotel.
They ensure you truly experience the destination (not just tick landmarks off a list of things to see).
Guidebooks and online blogs are great for helping to make a list of everything you should do and see while visiting a destination, but have you ever come home feeling like something was missing? Rather than standing among the masses trying to take a photo sans tourists, a travel advisor can often arrange a private tour before a place opens or even include areas on a guided tour that aren’t even open to the public. They’ve also built relationships with in-country destination specialists who can offer insights into experiences that you didn’t know were possible, such as accompanying dogs in the Italian countryside hunting truffles or enjoying a Viennese opera over dinner on your private hotel balcony. These ideas seem fancy, but often it’s about who your advisor knows rather than how much money you’re willing to spend.
They understand the true value of some experiences.
Travel advisors know when it’s worth splurging. When planning your own trip, setting a specific budget per hotel, per meal, and per activity guarantees that you’re missing out on some incredible opportunities. Focusing on an overall budget rather than an itemized spreadsheet, a travel advisor might send you on a $5 local tour one day and a $200 private experience with a chef the next because she’s been there and she knows that these are the best experiences on offer, regardless of the price tag. Most likely, you would never do that for yourself, but when you come home raving about that one day with the chef, that it was the most amazing day of your entire trip, your travel advisor will smile because it will just be further evidence that she knows what she’s talking about.
Focusing on experiences and the big picture budget-wise is one secret travel advisors might not want me sharing with you. A recent article echoes this sentiment in reporting that millennials are currently using the services of a travel advisor more than any other generation because they understand the potential this service has to enhance their overall experience.
Travel advisors often have special access to benefits, promotions, and amenities.
Because travel advisors often work together in large networks, they can sometimes secure an early check-in, complimentary breakfast, or even a welcome amenity for no additional cost. While some travel advisors will charge a planning fee for their time, the benefits they can offer exponentially outweigh the costs.
They take care of the details before you even think of them.
When traveling, finding a good place to eat can often be the most frustrating. Unfamiliar territory, a desire to eat well while on vacation, and the insanely short interval of time between going from hungry to hangry unfortunately means that travelers often eat a lot of mediocre food. This is a shame as authentic, freshly prepared meals when traveling is a large part of the experience. A good travel advisor will often be one step ahead of you, offering restaurant recommendations that are convenient with that day’s itinerary and sometimes, they’ll have made a reservation on your behalf.
You can’t VIP yourself.
A lot of vacations are planned with a celebration in mind. Whether it’s a honeymoon, your grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary, or a week away while your children are at summer camp, there’s always a reason to celebrate. Hotels don’t pay much attention to these details until your travel advisor makes a phone call on your behalf.
Most importantly, they’ve got your back when something doesn’t go as planned.
It’s almost impossible to travel without at least one small hiccup along the way. Maybe your flight was canceled, your hotel was overbooked, or you missed your train. A travel advisor is there to not only help you figure out these situations but to also make sure they don’t affect the remainder of your itinerary.
Here’s another example from Matt from a totally different trip. He was heading home for Christmas one year and was bumped off his flight. He called his travel advisor, they stepped in, and one phone call later, Matt was back on track to celebrating with his family — on time.