The other day I was asked, “what do you do all day?” Usually it’s someone outside the travel industry that asks me this. I usually give the same vague answer, “I book people their vacations, honeymoon or destination wedding.” I then got the stinging reply of “well can’t they just do that online?” So the next day I came into the office all fired up and decided to write down everything it was, that I did in a day!
I started the day by getting our #1 advertisement ready – our outside marquee. That marquee literally makes the phone ring, so first thing in the morning I searched for the latest offers and got the letters together to have the sign changed. Next I needed to follow up on a small group going to Disneyworld. I had not heard back after the initial quote, and wanted to see if they had any questions. After I got off that phone call, I received a pleasant phone call from a client who has now turned into a repeat traveler—yay me! I had planned and worked with this client on a Hawaiian couple’s getaway most of last year. They finally went in January on a multi-island trip. She called me to say they would like to go again next January, and stay in the same hotel, and high room category as last time; but they also wanted to visit another island missed on this trip. As many know, getting those higher room categories is not always the easiest task. My next call was repeat client wanting to add a tour to their existing booking.
As I was chugging along—ding! My alarm went off reminding me to check my clients in for their flights tomorrow. They are on a cruise ship at the moment and if I can, I usually like to check them in. I think back to the conversation yesterday…will booking online do that? Didn’t think so! Sifting through my email, I see a major schedule change to a client’s itinerary. Immediately I try to verify with the client if this is acceptable.
Lunch time! Well, for many of us, this usually means run errands, eat while driving, and then heading back to the office. That’s about it!
After lunch, I pick up a cold call. The prospect has traveled every continent and has run out of ideas on where to go. Now tell me what OTA can offer genuine travel ideas? This is where all those destination trainings, site inspections, hotel presentations, consortia webinars come in handy. After we hang up, a walk-in sits at my desk looking to go to the Bahamas, perfect I just got back last week. Up next, a client calls wanting to verify their seats to see if maybe they upgrade.
More email checking. My best friend’s friend has reached out to me to assist her in planning her honeymoon. While we work very hard to make the phone ring, to get new email requests and brand ourselves in our niche; a referral from close friends or family really means a lot to us!
After offering some food for thought, another walk-in is looking to go to Caribbean but has no idea they needed passports. The last time they were in the Islands, they cruised and a passport was not needed. This time they wanted to lay on a beach the whole time so they wanted to fly and not cruise. After explaining the steps of applying for a passport then we looked at some of the islands that sparked an interest.
Another alarm. This time it is an email reminder to apply final payment for client’s booking.
By now it is getting close to the end of the day and I have not heard from a supplier about a travel certificate given at our last trade show. Before I head out for the day, I send a few “welcome home” emails to returning clients, check the queues for any surprises, and send friendly reminders about upcoming payments due.
Time to go home!
But my day is not quite done. At 8:15pm, I am finally enjoying dinner…DING! It’s another alarm to check in a different client for their upcoming flight!
To be honest, I was surprised at all I do during a day. I take it for granted and somehow it all gets done. After I documented it all, I did send it to the person who asked just to drive home the point. And if nothing else, it reinforces that you should never underestimate the value of a travel agent.
Mary Jo Salas is a 3-year veteran of the industry working for Alamo Travel Group. Alamo is a full service agency with government, business and leisure travel divisions based in San Antonio, Texas. Mary Jo specializes in honeymoons, family vacations, and couples’ getaways and also serves as the Southwest Chapter Vice-President for ASTA.