How to plan your perfect holiday through an agency

Travel is one of the most expensive luxury purchases in the world – short of that Maserati you’ve been eying for the past 3 weeks. Travel is also one that people put the most heart into.

Therefore, it’s imperative that it goes right, and the best way to ensure that your holiday goes well, is to plan well! So you are probably wondering how to plan your perfect holiday through an agency?

Well, you’re in good company. I’m a travel consultant at a leading South African agency, so I know what I’m talking about.

Here are my top tips to ensure that you get a great deal, as well as have an amazing holiday.

  • Book well in advance – yes, there are always specials, but something to keep in mind is there are literally hundreds of travel agents in South Africa. Specials are very popular, and if you wait to book a special, you run the risk of not finding available space on your travel dates, and paying more. Booking well in advance is as good as a special, and a lot more stress-free.
  • Everything is subject to available space, so just understand that while we’re the travel experts, we can’t create available space on our specials if they are fully booked on your dates of travel. We are happy to search for another special for you, or search for dates that special is available – that’s what we’re here for.
  • Make sure your passport is in order – if you need visas, we’re happy to do them, but we need time. Most agents requires a minimum of 1 working month to process a visa as the Embassies can be a bit on the slow side sometimes. Some visas can be processed within a few days (I have seen an Italian Schengen processed overnight!) and some take a lot longer (a Canadian visa, for instance, can take up to 6 weeks – I have seen it). Remember, some visas are only released on the day of travel.
  • Know what you want – the world is a big place, of course, we are the experts, but we can only make suggestions – in the end it’s up to you to decide.
  • Get to know your travel agent – we love making new friends, and we love getting to know our clients. The more we know about you, the better we can match your holiday to your needs. We don’t bite, promise! All that typing, and frowning at screens is not a sign of our dislike for you – often it’s just because our computers are slow.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day – so sometimes, getting you there takes more than a day. We do have a 24hr turnaround time on all our quotes, and we usually try getting them to you quicker, but things don’t always work out that way. Often we’re faced with the problem of a hotel, who hasn’t released rates to us yet, or you’ve asked for something a bit more complicated than a flight to London, and sheer genius takes a while. We always try to get back to you as soon as we can with the best possible information though, so don’t you worry.
  • Children over the age of 12 are no longer children.
  • Holiday seasons are always is busy! Prices do increase with seasonality.
  • Know your names as per passport “Sampie” may be what the world knows you as, but chances are it isn’t your name on your passport. Same goes for middle names – if you are Helen by name, but you are Nontokozo Helen,  I need to know the Nontokozo bit.
  • Lastly my biggest piece of advice is go for value for money, not price. Yes, R20 000 per person may be a lot of money, but just remember that value for money is important. Sometimes we can get you a great value for money deal for less than what you wanted to pay, but sometimes, if we get you something cheap (by request) there is a reason – a friend of mine works in the tattoo industry and always reminds people “cheap tattoos aren’t good, and good tattoos aren’t cheap”. The same counts for holidays. Often, I would rather send my clients to a destination that is just out of their budget, than send them to a destination that I can quote within their budget, but it won’t be as enjoyable.

There you go! Armed with these tips, you should be well on your way to a dream holiday! Happy travels!

You can follow me via @tatibble on Twitter.

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