Marisa Thalberg doesn’t have her 2023 travel plans set in stone, but one thing she is sure about is that she will enlist the help of a travel specialist. She believes a professional advisor can offer her a “peace of mind” in an increasingly unpredictable world. As a marketing executive from Charlotte, N.C., Thalberg knows that working with an agent will ensure that her hard-earned leisure travel is maximized.
The year 2023 is a time when we all crave a little peace of mind. Just when we thought we had seen the end of holiday meltdowns, the FAA’s computer systems crashed, causing a nationwide air travel freeze. And just when we believed the war in Ukraine was coming to a close, a shocking missile attack disrupted the plans of anyone considering a trip to Europe.
“Travel remains complex,” says Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion Travel Group. “In 2023, travel advisors will continue to be valuable by providing expert advice to travelers before, during, and after their trips.”
However, travel advisors may not be suitable for everyone. If you only need a quick domestic flight or a roadside motel, you may be able to skip an advisor and save on booking fees. But if you’re planning a more intricate journey like a safari in Kenya, an Antarctic cruise, or a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, you definitely need a professional by your side – now more than ever.
So, what are the latest developments in the world of travel professionals in 2023? Let’s dive in.
A Travel “Vacation Consigliere” Who Goes the Extra Mile
Thalberg hired Kim-Marie Galloway, a “vacation consigliere” from Luxury Travel Mom, an affiliate of Embark Beyond. Galloway offers more than just booking flights and accommodations. She goes above and beyond to understand the unique needs of Thalberg and her family, providing essential services like insurance recommendations, packing lists, and access to last-minute reservations. Thalberg wanted to combine her own research skills with the expertise of an experienced travel advisor.
Travel Advisors Prepared for Any Crisis
The top travel advisors have acquired impressive skills, especially in dealing with unexpected situations. As Claire Riley, owner of Duende Travels in La Jolla, Calif., explains, “One significant improvement is that we have been planning travel with COVID-19 for four years now. Handling last-minute changes, working with travel insurance companies, and addressing traveler anxiety in the age of COVID has become part of the job. This experience has made the industry better as a whole.”
More Skilled Travel Advisors in 2023
Remember, travel advisors have navigated through lockdowns, travel bans, and unprecedented challenges. During their time off, many of them pursued further education and training certifications to enhance their skills. Andrew Garnett, CEO of Special Needs Group, notes that this additional knowledge equips travel advisors to handle unexpected situations during trips, providing travelers with peace of mind.
In 2023, travel advisors are taking personalization to a whole new level, thanks to innovative programs that help them understand their clients’ preferences and goals. Shane Mahoney, CEO of Lugos Travel, explains that sophisticated software can generate highly customized trip itineraries within minutes. These itineraries are tailored to individual interests and preferences, making the travel experience truly unique. Websites can’t match this level of personalization – at least not yet.
Travel Pros Are “Hyperlocalized”
Travel advisors in 2023 are true specialists. They have taken specialization to the next level, focusing not just on countries but on specific cities and even small neighborhoods. For example, if you plan a trip to Greece, you can connect with an Athens-based travel advisor who specializes in island-hopping vacations. This trend is becoming more prevalent throughout the industry, allowing travelers to benefit from localized knowledge and expertise.
Evolution of Travel Advisors in 2023
According to Kenroy Herbert, founder of Leviticus Lifestyle & Travel, the transition from travel agents primarily focused on transactions to professional advisors offering expert advice is rapidly accelerating this year. Travel advisors build deep relationships and become trusted friends to their clients, providing personalized guidance beyond basic bookings.
How to Find a Travel Advisor in 2023
To find a travel advisor who possesses the necessary skills, specialization, and responsiveness to your travel needs, consider the following steps:
- Seek referrals from friends, family members, or coworkers who have worked with travel advisors in the past. Additionally, read online reviews and testimonials while requesting references from potential advisors.
- Verify that the travel advisor is knowledgeable about your desired destinations and the types of travel experiences you seek. You should expect detailed itineraries and recommendations based on their own experiences and research.
- Look for membership in professional associations such as the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) or The Travel Institute. These organizations maintain high standards, and their members have access to additional resources.
Will Travel Advisors Finally Shine in 2023?
Twenty years ago, travel agents resisted the notion of becoming true experts in their field, content with merely facilitating transactions. However, it seems the professionals have emerged victorious in this debate. Travel advisors have become the experts they were meant to be. Keep in mind that their services come with associated fees, ranging from $25 for simple airline tickets to over $500 for intricate international trips. These fees may be a flat rate or a percentage of the total trip cost, covering services such as flight, hotel, and rental car bookings, personalized itineraries, and general travel advice. Additional charges may apply for services like passport assistance, visa help, travel insurance, and emergency travel support. It’s always recommended to clarify the financial arrangements before beginning the booking process.
2023 might be the year when travel advisors truly shine. We, as travelers, can benefit greatly from their expertise and guidance.
To discover the world of travel specialists, visit DHPL Travels.