We’re here to set the record straight.
In this age of information overload (a Google search of “Where should I stay on Maui?” returns 7.7 million results) and pandemic-related uncertainty, we believe travelers can benefit from personalized vacation-planning help now more than ever. There are thousands of travel advisors around the world (including 22,000 Virtuoso travel advisors in 50 countries, to be exact) who are ready to help make travel dreams come true.
Despite what you may have heard, travel advisors aren’t a vanishing breed; they aren’t trying to upsell you; and – trust us – no matter how well-traveled you are, Virtuoso travel advisors have way more connections than you do. We’ve uncovered eight of the most common myths about travel advisors, and we’re here to debunk them, once and for all.
Myth #1: A travel advisor is just a fancy name for a travel agent.
Think of travel advisors like financial advisors: They’re trusted, knowledgeable sources who help shape and support big decisions in your life. Travel is an investment, and it can yield an incredible return on life. Deciding where and how to go shouldn’t be taken lightly, whether that’s a years-in-the-making Italian sojourn, a bucket-list world cruise, or a spring break safari with your family. Travel agents can be merely transactional – they’ll book plane tickets and finalize hotel reservations – but travel advisors are transformational. They make it their business to get to know you, and they'll work with you again and again on your travel plans, learning everything from your favorite spa treatment to the go-to bottle of wine you like to have waiting in your hotel room.
Myth #2: Every travel advisor is the same.
Travel advisors come from different backgrounds, and they each have their own destination specialties and travel-style preferences. Some are pros at family vacations or wellness retreats, for example, while others focus on certain areas of the world, such as Europe or the South Pacific. And because they’re so well-connected, they’re able to tap into a network of experts around the world. (We like to think that not only are advisors specialists in travel, they’re specialists in you.) Lots of advisors have pivoted from other careers as corporate executives or event planners or sommeliers and have leveraged their skills to become experts in group trips and winetasting tours. With more than 22,000 Virtuoso advisors to choose from, it’s possible to find the perfect match for you.
Myth #3: It’s expensive to use a travel advisor.
Travel advisors earn commissions on trips they plan, which may be paid to them by hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies. Some advisors don’t charge anything for their trip-planning services, while others collect nominal fees, which are typically billed as travel design, research, or itinerary-crafting services. (It's worth noting that almost every travel agent charges airline ticket and issuance fees.) These fees vary per trip, and every advisor is upfront about them prior. Often, a travel advisor will apply that planning fee as a deposit toward travel booked. For many Virtuoso clients, paying a small fee to know that their entire trip has been customized and vetted – and knowing they’ve got someone who will be on call before, during, and after their trip – is well worth it.
Fees aside, in the long run, a travel advisor is probably still going to save you money (and will definitely save you time). Working with an advisor provides value you can’t access on your own, such as complimentary breakfasts, spa or dining credits, and upgrades at hotels – plus stateroom credits and complimentary shore excursions on cruises. (On average, travelers receive more than $500 worth of amenities per hotel stay at Virtuoso hotels.)
Myth #4: You can’t be part of the trip-planning process when you use a travel advisor.
One of the joys of travel is actually the anticipation and planning: choosing where to stay, which restaurants to visit, and which sites to see. For some, this part of the process is almost just as fun as the traveling. But for others, there’s also the stress of worrying if you’re making the right choice, whether your hotel is where you want to be, and what the room actually looks like. (Decision paralysis is real.) Your Virtuoso advisor will be as involved as much or as little as you want them to be when it comes to swapping travel ideas, making itinerary decisions, and more. When you connect with the right advisor, the vacation-planning process is collaborative, personal, efficient ... and yes, fun. An advisor makes planning seamless, leaving you time for more of the fun stuff, like deciding where to get pizza in Florence (but your advisor can give you recommendations for that too).
Myth #5: Travel advisors are just trying to earn a commission.
A trusted travel advisor wants you and your family to experience the best possible trip, and they treat your money as if it’s their own. You may want to talk to a few different Virtuoso advisors to find the right fit, but today’s travel advisor considers this job as much of a calling as a career – and takes pride in crafting a perfect itinerary for your needs, selecting the best hotels, and choosing engaging tour guides. It’s not about making a quick buck; it's about truly loving what they do for a living.
Myth #6: I can plan the same trip faster by myself online …
People are time-starved across age groups and income levels – especially right now. Searching through the overwhelming volume of online content often yields questionable results, with conflicting or outdated information. We believe leisure time is your most valuable, nonrenewable asset. Once it’s lost, you can’t get it back. Virtuoso advisors know the answers to questions you may not even think of – and plan things you never knew existed. Many of them spend a good amount of their own time traveling the world, researching and collecting ideas for their clients. They know about the travel experiences you can’t find on the internet (and we assure you, those do actually exist).
Myth #7: … and I can find the same prices and perks on my own too.
Through their global connections and years of cultivating industry relationships, Virtuoso travel advisors have access to special rates and offers that are not made publicly available. And beyond the hotel perks and cruise amenities available to Virtuoso advisors, there’s one more skill they have that online booking websites don’t: the ability to pick up the phone. A travel advisor can call the general manager at the Paris hotel their clients are about to check into to see if an upgrade is available. With luxury travel, it’s definitely about what you know and who you know.
If a hotel’s website says it’s fully booked, there’s a good chance a Virtuoso advisor can still secure a reservation for you. And if your flight gets canceled or delayed, your advisor can probably get you on another flight faster than you can. Advisors will also make sure you’re set up with the best car services, the most personalized tours, those impossible-to-get restaurant reservations, and the right travel insurance. Stop staring at the 73 tabs open on your internet browser and just email a travel advisor.
Myth #8: Nobody uses travel advisors anymore.
The biggest myth of all is that travel advisors are extinct, having disappeared with the advent of the internet. That couldn’t be further from the truth: Our network of 22,000 Virtuoso advisors around the globe is proof. And if the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we’ll never take the ability to travel for granted again. When it comes to something as valuable and important as your leisure time, it’s absolutely worth it to work with a professional who will always have you covered.