Our travelers all know the result of what their Covington vacation advisor does: create itineraries and make reservations for trips designed to personal specifications. That includes gaining access to unique events that make lifetime memories, arranging customized experiences that check off bucket list wishes, and ensuring it all happens without a hitch. But do you know what it takes to make all that happen? Let me tell you about a day in the life of a professional travel advisor.
Managing Client Trips
As anyone who has ever planned their own travel knows, those magical vacations have myriad details that require attention. From making sure your frequent flyer number and TSA Precheck are in your airline reservation to requesting a late hotel check out for your last day, your travel advisor handles hundreds of action items for every trip, making sure there are no gaps or overlaps in your itinerary.
First thing in the morning, we check our queues. These are computer reminders that we set up for every conceivable detail – payment and ticketing deadlines, follow-up actions, and more. Any urgent requests are, by definition, time-sensitive, so they take precedence. Next comes email triage. With emails about specific reservations plus general marketing from travel vendors, your professional travel advisor receives up to 100 emails daily.
Finally, it’s time to get down to the work of planning travel. That entails performing research, submitting proposals, making reservations, submitting special requests, and documenting every tiny detail. Next comes invoicing reservations, transacting payments, producing detailed itineraries for the client, and final checking every element of imminent trips. The workday ends with making a to-do list for the next day. Being a professional travel advisor requires great attention to detail and the powers of organization!
Getting to Know You
Getting to know our travelers is important in making insightful recommendations. When we’ve had the privilege of working with a client for multiple trips, we’ve learned that person’s likes and dislikes. Because of this successful working relationship, our existing clients often refer friends and colleagues to us as new clients. To begin that new relationship, we often spend some time getting to know the traveler by phone or in person. We’ll talk about your travel history, what desires you have for this trip, as well as asking about the experiences you wish to have in the future.
When we know whether you prefer large luxury resorts or tramping and glamping, street food or Michelin-starred dining, and visiting museums or shopping, we can narrow down the options to present, making your trip decision making much less stressful. That understanding also allows us to add in extras that appeal to your personal interests or suggest places that you may not have considered.
The Ongoing Pursuit of Knowledge
Travel professionals have a saying, “The only thing that remains constant in the travel industry is change.” At Covington, weekly training time is scheduled to stay at the top of our game. This may take the form of a group meeting with a travel vendor to learn how their hotel, tours, or cruises set themselves apart from the competition. Or it can be advisors taking independent digital classes or webinars on specific destinations and travel products.
It’s also important for us to personally visit the destinations we sell. That allows us to make knowledgeable recommendations to our travelers and act as first-person resources for each other. We give detailed reports to the rest of the team about our own travels, sharing our professional observations about the quality of accommodations, service, food, transportation, and any special experiences that we would recommend for clients.
And finally, being a professional travel advisor means constantly reading industry magazines (digital and paper) to keep up with ever-changing travel trends. This is especially relevant for luxury vacation advisors because our well-traveled clients are most interested in visiting new destinations and having unique experiences.
By knowing what’s hot and not-to-miss, which travel vendor best suits an individual traveler’s style, and forging personal relationships with industry contacts, we can execute trips of a lifetime for our clients.
Why We Are Professional Travel Advisors
The motivations for choosing a career as a professional travel advisor are varied:
- Being a “people person”
- Fascination with foreign cultures
- Excelling at detail and organization
- The desire for lifelong learning
- Loving to travel oneself
But every professional vacation advisor I’ve ever met has one motivation in common – getting genuine gratification from helping others fulfill dreams, make lifelong memories, and enjoy meaningful experiences. When we talk to clients after their trip and hear about Grandma going down the waterslide with six-year-old Henry or Julie’s surprise with David’s romantic proposal at the Eiffel Tower, we know we helped orchestrate precious life moments. That makes us happy and enjoying your work is priceless.
Some other meaningful travel experiences Covington vacation advisors have created include:
- Arranging for a man to trace his relatives’ escape from a concentration camp in Poland
- Helping a veteran return to where he served in a war to make peace with the experience
- Assisting in a quick departure from an archaeological dig in Israel just hours before rockets rained down
- Sending new parents to China to adopt a baby
- Planning a 60-year-old woman’s bucket list summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with her son
Travel stories of profound encounters and events go on and on. Those are the ones that fuel our motivation to make every detail right on every trip. It’s sometimes stressful to have such a weight on our shoulders, but we are grateful for the trust our clients put in us to provide a seamless travel experience and don’t take that trust lightly. It’s a complex but rewarding job and we wouldn’t trade it for anything!