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Turning dreams into reality

Turning dreams into reality

Today more than ever, people are enabled to travel, almost anywhere, at almost any time. What is it that attracts us to embark on holidays and seek experiences outside of what’s available locally? Why do we invest our precious time and hard-earned financial resources, leave our homes, and journey across the globe?

Gavin Tollman, Trafalgar’s CEO, believes that travel is a vital element of the human experience.

“It’s the introduction to new places and stimulation from meeting new people that is energising. With each moment of discovery, your world opens wider and your life changes forever,” he says.

“There is one constant for all of us: once the travel bug bites, there is no cure.”

But where do you start when turning these dreams into reality?

Based on an independently commissioned research study last year, Trafalgar found that 89% of consumers are overwhelmed by the abundance of choice they have when it comes to travel decision-making. With an overwhelming amount of travel resources available – the internet, newspapers, social media, magazines, books, television and word of mouth, it’s no wonder that trying to bring your travel dreams to life can turn into a stressful and time consuming exercise, and one that is easy to give up on.

In this environment of complexity, this is precisely why the services of a professional travel consultant, who can help navigate the journey, has become more valuable than ever.

But how do you even know which one to choose? Skill levels vary, as do areas of expertise and it’s quite likely that your travel inspiration and actual travel desires may not align. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative to find an expert in travel who knows the world, is passionate about travel, and understands your needs.

“Nowhere in the travel world is there any debate around the relevance and value today of travel agents,” Tollman continues. “The secret to finding a holiday that meets your needs is finding a travel agent who truly understands who you are, what you need and dream of in a holiday, and how to get you there. Literally.”

“A good travel agent takes the time and trouble to listen to what you want (and don’t want), makes thoughtful and relevant suggestions that reflect your holiday aspirations in all ways, adjusts to ensure that the holiday is a genuine ‘fit’, and makes it happen according to your defined resources of time and money,” Tollman concludes.

“At the heart of a good travel agent experience is simply this: They do the work, all you do is dream, pack and go. “

Tollman gives his four-step fit for finding the right agent for your travels:

First and foremost: EXPERTISE

First and foremost: EXPERTISE

First-hand knowledge, from the places they have been or learned their customers and fellow agents. By nature, a great travel agent must be inherently inquisitive. They don’t just sell a destination – they travel, they ask questions, read, discover, research and experience the places for themselves. Quality travel agents travel for work, absorbing every detail of the guest experience. They don’t have to have personally been where you want to go, a colleague has, or their preferred tour operators have. They know the hidden gems in a given destination. They take feedback seriously. Every time they travel they are focusing on these details – so their customers can just dream about their destination and not have to worry.

Second: ACCESS

Second: ACCESS

Always accessible when you are on the road – an imperative when we are subject to the vagaries of travel – cancelled flights, weather, personal circumstance. If something goes wrong, a travel agent can help make it right. And quickly, with minimum of fuss. They answer their phones and respond to their email no matter where you are on the planet. Importantly, they must have clout – they will have developed personal relationships with individuals at the companies they sell, and this gives them leverage you can’t get on your own.

Third: VALUE

Third: VALUE

This is their lifeblood. Do not begrudge them for it. You are paying for their service and their credibility pays dividends. Generally, I have found that it will not cost you any more than doing it yourself. Their ability to benefit from travel relationships, access and resulting discounts will, with good travel agents, benefit you. If your travel agent charges a fee, the value you receive should be greater than what you would have paid going it alone. We may have the world at our fingertips but a good travel agent cuts through the clutter. And eradicates risk of your holiday dream becoming a nightmare. Remember in travel, there are no do overs.

Finally: ENDORSEMENT

Finally: ENDORSEMENT

Choose a travel agent in the same way you would other high-value service providers such as doctors or lawyers: trust the opinion of others. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you will want to visit or call a number of consultants to find the one that best suits your needs. One of the largest changes, has been a shift to many different agency models. Look for the ones that best work for you. Trust your instincts – but pay attention to a travel agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. And never forget that the best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with you, one that will be a true partnership in which your holiday dreams are fulfilled beyond expectation and is not just seen as a sales-oriented transaction.

Sharing is a wonderful and consistent element of a great holiday. Investing in finding the right travel agent – the right partner – who can share and guide you is one of the greatest investments you can make. We only have one life, one in which there is no time nor money to waste. After all, travel dreams fulfilled are priceless.

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Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team