Travel agents can give edge for vacation plans

Published 9:00 am Monday, April 3, 2023

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

As spring time comes around, thoughts often turn toward summer va­cation. Everyone wants to get the best deal on their getaway, and there are benefits to hav­ing a helping hand from a travel agent or advisor.

Working with a travel agent can save someone hours of in­ternet searching because of the connections they have already established in the industry, ac­cording to Bonnie Himes of Classic Travel Connection at Bonnie4travel.com, who has more than 35 years of experi­ence in the industry.

Having a travel agent or ad­visor also opens possibilities to an experience tailored to ex­actly what specific vacationers want within one’s budget.

“I want to get to know my clients,” Himes said. “I want to know what their desires are, what their dreams are and be able to give them the very best experience that I can find for them.”

As a part of the conversation, a travel advisor can also give input on if a trip would be good for children or older adults and special accommodations that might be available. Himes gave the example of some children being too young to go on a cruise.

Himes said a travel advisor would also be able to tell clients what accommodations would be available for those with spe­cial needs.

Travel agents have connections that can benefit clients in planning their vacation, Bonnie Himes of Classic Travel Connection, said. (BONNIE HIMES | CONTRIBUTED)

Using a travel agent could also help one save money on their vacation.

“We have contacts,” Himes said. “We have the ability to dig into the specials that are being offered for what you are look­ing for.”

The time of the year one wants to travel and where they are going determines how far in advance a client would need to contact a travel agent or advi­sor.

“If you are booking for, let’s say Christmas season, you are probably already running a lit­tle late,” Himes said. “If you are booking for spring and summer of next year, you are right about in the ballpark. A good rule of thumb is roughly a year in ad­vance.”

Some of this timing recom­mendation is because some des­tinations are still short staffed and are not ready to operate at 100% occupancy yet, Himes said.

However, there are still plenty of options for those who have less time before they want to get away. Himes said the cost might be more when booking with less time in advance de­pending on what a person is try­ing to do.

“Your options are still very much there for anything close in,” Himes said.

Festival time in an area can make it difficult to book some­thing last minute.

Himes recommended look­ing at the referrals on a travel agent’s website before choosing who to go with.

“Getting to know your travel agent, in my opinion, is para­mount because you have to know if you click with that per­son,” Himes said. “Looking for someone local is big because that person knows where you live as far as the community, that person knows your demo­graphics.”

Himes said she likes to meet with clients in person but has helped several clients over the phone.

Cruises are a popular vaca­tion choice right now because COVID-19 vaccinations are no longer required.

“We are seeing more and more people, especially since COVID, who are tired of sit­ting around … and they want to get out and travel,” Himes said.

Disney locations continue to be very popular, and Europe is a popular choice right now, Himes said. Safari trips to Af­rica are also rising in popularity.

For those wanting to travel internationally, Himes said passports are taking between eight and 12 weeks to be pro­cessed.

Editor’s note: This article originally published in 2023 Spring Guide. This version includes a correction to the types of trips to Africa that are increasing in popularity.