6 things travel agents don't want you to know


Mia Taylor

Mia Taylor

Blog author Mia Taylor

Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist with two decades of reporting experience. News organizations she has worked for as a staff member or contributor include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Westways Magazine, Vacation Agent Magazine, the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Boston Globe. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies and was a member of a team of reporters who received a Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2011.

Published October 22, 2019|3 min read

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Travel agents have the challenging task of making your globetrotting dreams come true.

It’s a job that involves regularly traveling the world to experience destinations, hotels and restaurants. When travel agents aren’t on the road, they spend their days pulling together logistical details and finding ways to make your travel experience memorable.

But have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? Here are six tips, tricks and secrets travel agents don’t want you to know.

1. They haven’t been everywhere

Though a travel agent is typically extremely well-traveled, they likely haven’t been to all the places they book trips to.

“It’s impossible to visit every property where my clients will be staying,” said Eric Hrubant, founder of CIRE Travel, a New York City-based travel company. “While I’m advising my clients on where to stay and what to do, I haven’t been everywhere. I rely heavily on my amazing hotel and tour partners to be the boots on the ground.”

Bottom line: A great travel agent is only as good as their relationships with valued partners, said Hrubant.

2. People skills are everything

The true skill of a travel advisor? Knowing how to interpret people’s wishes and desires, said Ian Ropke, founder of Your Japan Private Tours. The best travel agents are exceptionally attuned to what their clients want.

“When it comes to tricks, there are no tricks. It’s knowledge and expertise,” Ropke said. “Interpreting a client includes the influences of cultural background, how they like to travel and what kind of experience they’re aiming for.”

3. It takes a village

While you may be in communication with a single travel agent, it’s likely not the only person working on making your dream trip come to life.

“There’s an entire team I’m working with that helps me curate each itinerary,” said Danielle Pearson, travel advisor at Departure Lounge. “Those unbelievable experiences come from other experts working in other countries, who are in my network. I have destination specialists that I work with around the world.”

Want to get away? Here are secrets from a travel agent for picking your next vacation.

4. They aren’t fans of home rental sites

It may feel cool to feel like you’re staying in a real neighborhood, or have a full-sized kitchen to cook a meal in, said Hrubant. But don’t ask an agent to book your accommodations via a home rental site, like Airbnb or HomeAway.

“There are just too many things that can (and do) go wrong,” he said. “I do my best to convince my clients to stay away, especially if this is an important business trip or special vacation.”

5. They want clients that are willing to invest in the experience

If you’re the type of traveler who plans each part of their vacation to the dollar, consider booking the getaway on your own, said Pearson.

“The clients I want to work with and choose to work with are those four- or five-star clients,” said Pearson. “They’re not going to be sticker shocked and are willing to spend the money to truly have the experience they want to have.”

6. They hate agent shopping

If there’s a singular pet peeve associated with the job, it’s clients who are working with multiple agents simultaneously, said Pearson.

“It’s a lot of work putting together an itinerary,” said Pearson. He said the worst thing a client can do is take that itinerary and all the hard work that went into it and bring it to another agent to book the trip.

Want to learn more secrets? Here are six things airlines don’t want you to know.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko