6 Times a Travel Agent Is Worth It
Planning a wedding is a full-time job, and, chances are, you already have one of those. So when it comes to booking your honeymoon-yet another time-consuming endeavor-there's a solid argument for letting a pro take the reigns, especially if any of the below scenarios apply to you.
As Wendy Perrin, an industry expert and founder of the "Wow List" of top travel advisors, says, "Of all the types of trips where it might make sense to use an agent, a honeymoon is one of them. That's because most newlyweds are spending a lot of money and there's a lot of pressure to make it memorable."
When you can't decide where to go.
Debating between city and beach? Something adventurous and relaxing? Or just have no clue where to begin? A travel advisor can help give you some direction. "We have potential clients fill out detailed questionnaires that ask where they've been, likes and dislikes, favorite hotel, preferred design aesthetic, and any pet peeves they have about traveling," says Jim Augerinos of Perfect Honeymoons. From there, you'll typically have a series of meetings or phone calls to help narrow down where exactly you want to go.
A good agent will also keep undecided travelers from making any dire mistakes. "I've had clients tell me they want something super tropical with hiking and they're thinking of going to the Bahamas, which is all flat sand," says April Schmitt of Divine Destination Weddings & Honeymoons.
When you want insider access to a destination.
Travel advisors are constantly scouring the globe for the latest hotels, restaurants, museums, and more, and spend years developing relationships with general managers, chefs, guides, and other local experts. What this means? They can open doors that would otherwise remain shut to travelers booking a trip themselves. "I have contacts that will literally do anything for my clients," says Kristen Korey Pike of KK Travels Worldwide, who recently got honeymooners into a sold-out hotel in South Africa because of her relationship with the owner.
A few potential activities an advisor can help you plan: cooking classes in a chef's home in Tuscany, after-hours museum tours, access to monuments that are off-limits to the public, and studio visits to see a local artist at work. "A lot of times we'll suggest things people aren't even aware are possibilities," Schmitt says.
When you want to go on safari.
Africa is one of those destinations that's hard to navigate on your own (though it definitely can be done if you are willing to put in the time and research). As Tamsyn Fricker of Travel Artistry Africa puts it, "You're talking about places in the middle of nowhere that need special access and understanding." Teresa Sullivan of Mango African Safaris agrees: "It's one thing to buy a ticket to Cabo and pick a hotel off of Trip Advisor. If it's not great, you try something else next time. But Africa is half a world away, and for many, it's the trip of a lifetime."
Perhaps the biggest challenge is deciding where and when to go, since experiences-and climates-can vary greatly from country to country. "Africa has so many nuances, and you can miss a lot if you don't know where you're going," Fricker says. "And going somewhere in the wrong season can be diabolical. For example, if you're chasing the migration but you're there at the wrong time in the wrong region, you'll miss it completely."
When you're booking a complicated trip.
The more flights and hotels you need, the more likely you are to benefit from an expert planner who can easily navigate layovers and airport transfers. Plus, "doing a complex trip yourself can be extremely stressful and can cause tension in a couple," says Schmitt.
Perrin advises using an advisor when honeymooning on any islands-especially ones as far away as the Maldives or the Seychelles-which can be tricky because of limited airfare and weather issues. "That's when I would recommend a destination specialist, who will have contacts at the local airlines," she says.
When you want VIP hotel treatment.
Anyone can book a hotel on Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, or directly with a hotel-but to them, as Augerinos says, "you're just a credit card number." Using an agent guarantees added value, especially if they're members of a consortium like Virtuoso or Signature Travel Network, which comes with extras like early check-in, spa credits, free breakfast, and champagne in your room. And if you're interested in staying at a Four Seasons or other specific luxury brand, make sure to use an agent who is a preferred partner, which can translate into similar perks. (Another bonus: Because advisors visit hundreds of hotels every year, they know the exact rooms to book.)
A good advisor will also incorporate special unexpected touches, like asking the hotel general manager to personally greet you upon arrival or arranging for a framed photo from your wedding to be waiting for you in the guest room.
When you want someone to call if something goes wrong.
It's your honeymoon, so nothing disastrous is going to happen-but just in case a flight is cancelled or the air conditioning in your hotel room is broken, it's nice to have someone on your side to fight for you (and oftentimes save you from paying astronomical fees). This is especially important when traveling far from home, and most agents typically have local contacts on hand to help. Perrin puts it perfectly: "Who wants to waste precious time on a honeymoon dealing with hassles and headaches?"