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Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

Clever safe private luxury travel, tailor-made worldwide adventures and cultural journeys take experience. Do not settle for less, book only with genuine travel professionals! Life is a journey, and travel inspirations for the discerning traveler begin with top travel leads.

Resort in Pench National Park

The Gondwana or the “Land of Gonds” in central India which includes the Pench Tiger reserve, strectches across Madhya Pradesh and Maharatsra. The common languages here is the Gondi, a spoken language. They depend on forest produce for sustenance and livelihood. The history of Pench is rich and enthralling. The history of Pench discloses fascinating and delightful facets of culture and life cycle of the societies of Pench.

The Pench tiger reserve is spread over two states, the Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh and Nagpur district of Maharashtra. Pench M.P.covers around 757 squares Kms and Maharashtra covering an additional covering 741.22 sq kms has also been declared Pench tiger reserve. Together these two are home to breeding tigress which in turn plays an important role in revitalising the meta-population of tiger reserves.

Interestingly, according to local lore a boy named Mowgli was brought up by a heard of wolves and was found in the Sant Bawadi village. A very famous “The Jungle Book” is based on the Mowgli and its land Pench national Park described by Rudyard Kipling’s. Rudyard Kiplings describes Mowgli and its land “Pench national Park” in his very famous “The Jungle Book” which is a collection of stories by him using animals in a manner to give moral lessons. Also mentioning about the Valley of Ben Ganga River near Kanivadi village where Sher khan of the children’s favourite fanciful tale met his end.

During your visit to Pench and opting for a thrilling Pench jungle safari you will notice the traces of the ancient happenings occurred.

The Living forest: Flaura & Fauna- The remarkable landscape of Pench is the hills, the dense forest and open meadows. Pench forest is largely made up of dry deciduous forest where large tracts of Teak, bamboo, Saaja (crocodile tree), Ghost tree, Mahua, and many more fruit trees. The region has dense red soil rich in lime, magnesia, iron in which dry crops and cotton flourish.

The Iconic the king “Tiger”- The tallest living species in the cat family. The leopard is an intelligent elusive carnivore that manages to sustain itself even in forest dominated by tigers. The other carnivores are dhole (wild dog), jungle cat, small Indian civet, Wolves, Striped hyena, Sloth bear, Jackal, and common palm civet make up the rest of the carnivore fauna of the Pench Tiger Reserve. The pray of these carnivores are Deer, Sambhar, Blue bull, Bison etc are most commonly sighted. Though the flying squirrel, porcupine and Indian pangolin are also resident of the park, spotting any of these is rare.

Bird Watching in Pench: The Pench national park is known as the bird watchers paradise. It has 325 species of birds which includes resident and migratory both. Pench is attaining recognition as one if the India’s premium birding destinations. Bird life is so rich in Pench national park because water birds are attracted to the reservoir situated in the park. Winter migrants includes snipes, sand pipers and wagtails. The cormorants, storks, egrets, fishing eagles and kingfishers have colonised the reserve. The diversity of habitats at Pench is combined with population of predator and prey species make it ideal for vultures. Lots of tourist choose for Pench jungle safaris only to sight vulture which is rare and available in few wild life sanctuaries only.

The Digital Future of the Hotel Industry Starts at Home

During my many years of travel in the service industry and having stayed in hundreds of hotels worldwide, it’s clear that the past five years have brought about enormous change in the hotel industry.

Innovation with architecture, interior design and guest comfort is at an all-time high. Widespread revitalisation has been incredibly successful in meeting guest expectations. Yet, in an increasingly demanding world, there still also remains a huge opportunity to truly create a home from home for the traveler.

Improvement On the Old?… How Much Has Actually Changed in The Hotel Industry?

In so many areas, the revitalisation of hotels continues to occur through the use of innovative products. Yet, if you look closely, you begin to realise that most ideas are limited to enhancing old, existing structures, whilst missing vital customer life cycles.

In a world where customer loyalty is hard-fought and guest expectations are continuing to rise, what’s truly needed is a shift to more dynamic business models: Low risk, digital strategies that are truly in sync with customer’s loves and expectations.

So, What’s Missing from the Guest Experience?

Be it a family, business clients or honeymooning couples, people are now approaching their travel with exceedingly high expectations. In today’s environment, we have access to so much. We have a plethora of choice in our everyday lives and we expect the same standard of availability, ease and access when we enter a hotel.

Modern Expectations

Take my example: At home, my WIFI works seamlessly, without the need for daily passcodes. I can fill my fridge with my favourite food, available for me whenever I want it. I can order it or purchase it on a whim to make my Friday night extra special. I control the temperature of my house, so that when I come home, it’s comfortable. I book massages or entertainment online to consume immediately.

These are all ‘givens’ for me. And I expect them – and more – from my hotel.

I’d love to be able to choose my preferred pillow prior to my arrival. I want to be able to book a reservation at a restaurant or spa with ease and without constant phone calls, or easily choose a city tour without visiting reception. If I have a problem during my stay, I want it fixed fast – not needing to chase a maid or deal with a busy receptionist.

If you, as a hotel, can provide a solution for me to easily manage my needs – through the entire lifecycle of my experience – from booking, staying, right through to months after my stay, then you will earn both my loyalty and my revenue.

Touch and Influence Through Mobile

But how could a hotel achieve this? By adapting pragmatic digital strategies within the guest life cycle. Mobile as our main form of communication and source of information, is one ideal solution.

Located directly on the home screen of the guest’s own device, you have the opportunity to live, literally, in the palm of their hand and be just a touch away from a direct, on- going connection. Your hotel’s physical attributes offer them comfort, whilst your digital presence offers them a 24/7 relationship with you.

A Thriving, Connected Business

The potential for true connection with customers – before, during and after their physical stay – is vast; the opportunities an innovation in this area, endless. Yet, the fact remains that hotels aren’t yet harnessing a personalized digital customer strategy.

Travel to Costa Rica: Hotel Reviews

The Best Western, Costa Rica
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
It was only 15 minutes away from the airport and right in the middle of the city. I felt as though it was a nice transition from being in the U.S. to being in a different country since it is a big, international hotel chain. Everyone we spoke with spoke perfect English but they were also locals so they were open to sharing any advice you might need. The rooms were pretty average and clean with a great view of the courtyard and pool area at the center of the hotel. We swam in the pool during the day (very clean and well kept) and the hot tub was located to the side, a little more private, with an ‘infinity pool’ kind of feel. Overall, it was a simple hotel that offered just enough for us.

Lomas del Volcan, San Carlos
Rating: 4/5 Stars
To this day, it has been one of the most unique and memorable places I have ever stayed. It might seem sketchy when you have to go off the main road and drive up this dirt trail on an incline for a bit, but then you reach a normal road and it takes you right to the main hotel site to check in. The staff was attentive and welcoming. It was a simple dining center, both indoor and outdoor with a terrific buffet. From there, we had to keep going up the incline and walked with our luggage to our own huts. (unfortunate downside: no one carting you around the resort) Towels shaped into flamingos were propped up on each bed accompanied by rose pedals. The bathroom was very large and open which was nice when sharing with others. We had a little front porch and a back porch opening up to all the beautiful surrounding nature. When we would head out in the mornings there would be monkeys swinging around the trees, right outside our hut!! It is also very close to all the near by activities, right off the Arenal Volcano!

Condovac la Costa, Playa Hermosa
Rating: 4/5 Stars
We stayed at this large resort right off the sandy beaches. There is constant uphill and downhill traveling so you’re in for a good work out but luckily there were golf carts roaming around to help guests get around. The welcome desk was very pleasant, with tons of people around to assist you. The rooms were okay, not completely 4 star worthy, but it was everything else that made me give it this rating. They had a tennis court, game room, pool area, karaoke, infinity pool, zumba lessons, salsa lessons, a great restaurant, gift shop and most importantly: their private beach entrance which only lead you to do more! We barely even stayed in the hotel room the amenities kept us so busy. We had no problems with anything here! Highly recommend.