When I was a kid my parents used a local agency to book our travel. I didn’t quite understand how these plane tickets would show up, but somehow a call was made and then a paper ticket came in the mail. I remember thinking that it had to be a cool job to be a travel agent. You could spend your day talking about great places and taking care of people.
In the past few years I’ve been going through boxes of stuff that I cleared out of my parents’ house after I graduated from college. In one box I found a stack of itineraries for flights to Florida when I visited my grandparents and aunt. When I was in High School I had the wonderful opportunity to take a school Spring Break Trip to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Once again I was interested in the travel process. Each day we had tour tickets ready for us, funny and informative guides and there were pre-planned dinners with entertainment. After I got home from that trip I made my first scrapbook, including ticket stubs, hotel information and brochures of places we visited. I didn’t know I created my first “destination guide”.
Fast forward to when I was planning our honeymoon. I went to some local agencies for information and collected stacks of brochures. I asked friends for referrals for a travel agent. After talking to a few agencies I found a “cruise only” agency that had the cruise I wanted at the price I wanted. My agent gave me great service. She let me know when rates went down and we were able to take advantage of some upgrades. I booked with that same agent again. She knew what cruises we liked, what cabin categories we preferred and where we wanted to go next. When I called back to book another trip I found out that my agent retired. I was bummed. I talked with her replacement and it wasn’t the same experience. All of the sudden I felt like a line item on a spreadsheet and not a customer. I knew right then what I expected in a travel agent. I just didn’t know that I was about to become my own agent.
Each of those experiences stuck with me. It was the simple idea that being a travel agent had to be a fun job. There was a “ta-da!” moment when tours and travel plans magically happen. And then there’s an understanding that travel was about people, dreams and expectations. This built the foundation of how I knew what kind of travel agent I wanted to be. It’s about making dreams come true. It’s about taking care of the details. It’s about listening to what the customer wants and expects and making sure they book a trip that meets those needs.
Being a travel agent is a fun job and I hope that one of my clients’ kids goes on a vacation that I planned and thinks “Wow! Amy has a cool job!”
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