Throughout history, there has been someone helping merchants travel for business and individuals travel for religious purposes. As transportation evolved over time from horse-drawn carriages and steamships to railways and airplanes, an expert was still on hand to arrange a grand tour of Europe in the 18th century or a multi-generational safari in the 20th century. This middleman today has many different names — travel agent, travel advisor, travel designer, tour operator, tour guide, travel management company — but all provide a valuable service: helping travelers create the trip of a lifetime.
Travel agents become popular in the 1960s as a faster and easier way to book flights, but their value has grown beyond route knowledge and discounted tickets. Many travel companies have on-the-ground experience at a destination, insider information about the accommodation options and, because of the pandemic, extensive knowledge about entry and exit requirements.
[Related Reading: 5 Best Predictions about Post-Pandemic
These are the people you want on your side when planning a trip in today’s travel environment. Across specialties — climbing guides to safari companies to women-only tour operators — travel experts match their expertise with your request, creating a personalized trip hard to find by just searching the Internet and clicking the “book now” button.
A Flywire survey of frequent travelers across the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and Japan found 56% will be more likely to book a tour through a private tour operator than they were before the pandemic, and 49% are more likely to book a specialty trip through a tour agent.
If you’re wondering why you should use a travel management company to plan your next trip, our Safe Travel Partners provide nine ways they can assist.
Work Within a Budget
You’ve been saving for years for a guided tour of Italy, but are worried that it might not be enough for the luxury travel you’re envisioning. A travel company can create a trip to match your budget.
“Good travel advisors do not just know what the best hotel is, they know what the best hotel is for you and your budget and can help you find the right fit,” writes Larry Olmsted in Forbes magazine.
Easier Travel Planning
The primary responsibility of a travel agent was to make the process of travel planning easier for clients. Today, they ensure clients experience the best trip possible.
“Rather than merely booking transactions or acting as order-takers, agents now function as travel advisers,” said Kimberly Franke of Kanna Travel Services, a travel company specializing in outdoor recreation travel logistics. “They work collaboratively with clients to sort through vast amounts of information and make informed decisions, much like financial advisers assist clients in managing their money.”
Tailor Trips to Your Needs
You’d like to have a camp experience on your next trip, but are not quite sure what that entails. Ask your tour operator.
“We work to ensure our clients enjoy the camp experience at our remote lodges. Most importantly, when you are looking at booking a trip, we are extremely honest about the pros and cons of what you will be experiencing so you can choose a trip that fits your physical requirements,” said Kevin McNeil, co-owner of Aylmer Lake Lodge with wife Patti. “From start to finish, we want you to enjoy your trip in a setting where you are comfortable.”
Offer a Personal Touch
Want to backcountry ski or ice climb in Canada? Many smaller tour operators focus on their core expertise.
“Clients come to me because I’m not a big guiding company. I’m a one-man show, running my business and guiding trips myself while at the same time raising a young family here in my hometown of Canmore, Alberta,” said Tom Wolfe, owner of Sawback Alpine Adventures, internationally certified Mountain Guide, and a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and the International Federation of Mountain Guides. “I’m a guide first and foremost because I love making great trips for my clients and taking part in those personally.”
Help You Set and Meet Goals
Before you try a hands-free bat hang on the burliest crag, you may want to consider finding a climbing guide to help you reach your summit aspirations.
“Are you looking for something that is technically interesting — some technical challenges in a climb — or altitude endurance challenges? To create the best-customized program, I want to figure out what excites them about their climbing,” said Kel Rossiter, owner and lead guide of Adventure Spirit Rock+Ice+Alpine Experiences.
Share Insider Access
Travel companies have made connections in the industry, giving them access to the finest restaurants, hotels, theaters and venues around the globe.
“My relationships with trusted partners in every country give me up-to-date, local knowledge and insider access to un-Google-able experiences, such as glamping on private lands, a tour of a vineyard and wine tasting with a member of the Spanish royal family, or hearing stories from a member of an iconic family in Sydney with access to the vault of the rarest pearls on Earth,” said Mimi Lichtenstein, founder and custom travel advisor of Truvay Travel.
Create Small Group Experiences
You want to get back to the water but in a smaller, more personalized way because of the coronavirus variants. Your travel guide might suggest a small group experience, such as a private yacht or a close-to-home river cruise.
“Our travel company caters to small group experiences. Not only does this allow our clients to have the full attention of our guides and staff throughout their trip, it also makes it easier to focus on health and safety,” said Brandon Morris, owner and founder of FlashpackerConnect Adventure Travel. “We speak extensively with our clients to develop the perfect trip for them, with careful consideration of every aspect of their trip from the level of activity to accommodations preferences. We are fully able to customize the way we build out trips.”
When it comes to health and safety guidelines, 86% of travelers say these details are more important now than they were before the pandemic. Many travel companies have put protocols in place to boost client safety. Trips have been reformatted to create travel bubbles, vendors are vetted for health and safety standards, and travel packages include testing capabilities or quarantine requirements.
Provide Peace of Mind
A recent survey of our Safe Travel Partners found 28% joined the Global Rescue program to provide peace of mind for clients and 26% to help meet duty of care. Fifty percent of partners introduce Global Rescue to clients in the pre-booking process and 28% during trip confirmation.
Not only do they take care of all the details for you, many travel management companies have emergency communications gear and risk management plans in place. They also have travel protection memberships, like Global Rescue.
“Our partnership with Global Rescue is an extremely important part of the service we offer to our customers,” said Catherine Shearer, co-owner of H+I Adventures. “Not only does it give us the peace of mind of emergency evacuation on the rare occasions this might be required, but it also gives our guides and clients the reassurance of having a medical expert on the end of a phone 24/7 to advise on illness or minor injury. Our clients have benefited from this service on a number of occasions and have been very satisfied with the care they have received from Global Rescue.”
Be Sure to Pack Your Peace of Mind
Why You Need a Travel Company
No clue what to do when you hear a flood alert? You’re not alone. ...
No clue what to do when you hear a flood alert? You’re not alone. ...
Every day, Global Rescue personnel are involved in medical, security and travel ...
With the war in Ukraine raging, the question of “Is it safe to travel to Europe? ...