Top 3 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

Why should I use a travel agent to book my trip instead of booking it myself on the internet? This is a question I had to answer recently for a potential client with whom I was speaking to for the first time. As a travel professional, I get this type of question a lot.

In this article I will reveal to you how I answered this question and how you can benefit from using the services of a professional travel agent versus booking your own travel online using a travel search engine.

1. Save time.

Sure you can spend hours, days, even months researching destinations and going from website to website in order to plan your own travel itinerary, but why would you want to do that? Time is a precious commodity that we can never get back. While you are spending all this time doing research and going from website to website to see if you can get a better deal, you could have more easily picked up the phone to have a travel agent do this research for you.

Professional travel agents are trained to do this because it’s their job. A travel professional can do all the research, coordinate all the logistics, and put together a complete itinerary for your trip in a fraction of the time you can do it for yourself.

2. Use the agent’s knowledge and resources.

Travel agents are trained travel professionals. It’s their job to know the ins and outs of popular travel destinations. Although there is a ton of information on the internet readily available to the public, travel professionals have first-hand knowledge of many or most of the destinations you may choose to visit.

Secondly, travel professionals often have resources to inventory, special offers, and discounts available only to travel professionals to offer their clients. By using an agent, you’ll be able to take advantage of these resources.

3. The travel agent advocates for you should something go wrong on your trip.

Let’s say you have booked a flight and hotel online on one of the highly-advertised travel sites. Bingo! You’re all set. Or are you?

You check your confirmation and realize that you booked the wrong date. So you call customer service and you wait and wait; then finally you get a customer service representative who then tells you that there’s a fee to change your reservation. Okay so you pay the fee, after all you don’t have much of a choice.

The day comes for you to catch your flight. You get to your destination, but your luggage does not. The airline has lost one of your bags. So you’re stuck again with a problem, and call customer service again. You get to your hotel to rest from your long day, and find that your hotel room isn’t ready. Here you go again.

Now I’m not implying that a travel agent could have prevented all of this, but as a member of the travel industry, travel agents have special relationships with travel vendors. A complaint call or letter from a travel agent is more likely to get an expedited response than a letter from you, because of the agent’s relationship with the travel vendor.

I know what you’re thinking. You think that you’ll pay more to use a travel agent. It’s an incorrect assumption to think that using the services of a travel agent will be more expensive than booking your own travel online. Although some agents charge a service, the benefits of using a professional travel agent far outweigh the risks of not using an agent.

Accessories to Match Your Fashion Personality

Discovering which style not only goes with your personality, but also with your fashion sense is difficult for many women. Unless you are really confident in yourself or majored in fashion, choosing colors, clothing pieces, and accessories to complement you is a daunting task. Here are some ideas to help you in your pursuit of fashion.

First, what colors do you normally wear? Almost every woman has colors she naturally gravitates towards, whether it is slimming, classic black or neon lime. Knowing which colors you often wear can help you determine which colors you should choose for accessories and where you could branch out. There are four basic fashion types. You might be wholly one style or a mixture. That is part of the beauty of fashion; there really are no wrong answers.

Do you like pastels, pink, tangerine, baby blue, ivory, and cream? Then you are probably a romantic style. Nichole Kidman is one notable celebrity whose fashion sense is very romantic. Romantic personalities like hearts, lace, sparkles, and anything traditionally associated as “girly”. To add more romantic accessories to your closet, focus on simple gold pieces such as lockets, delicate scarves, lace gloves, and ruffled bags.

For those who prefer natural colors such as greens, browns, gray, beige, and similar shades, Meg Ryan is your inspiration. Casual and comfortable, this is called the natural style. Jewelry with stones or beads will probably be most appealing to you, and simple, practical handbags like a messenger bag will be your best friend. If you want to be more “adventurous” with your style, look for bags in colors such as squash mustard which will still match your color scheme while allowing you to look daring.

Audrey Hepburn’s style can only be called classic. Ageless pearls, structured black bags, and timeless red lips are all characteristics of a classic fashion style. If you fall into this category your closet will likely consist of timeless basic pieces in navy, gray, black, white, cream, and red.

Many women fall into the category of the brighter the better. Wild, bright colors, prints, and a willingness to try almost anything is typical of a bold style. Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga are two very different examples of this style. Purple and metallic accessories are perfect for you if your style falls into this category. Large is also part of your fashion statement. Big earrings, pendants, chunky bracelets, and oversized handbags are a great way to express your energy and enthusiasm for life.

2017’s Trends In Home Furniture

Trends in furniture are always fluid and changing just like most other home decor trends. Each year, new and recycled designs, patterns, hues, and visual combinations are declared as the season’s hottest trends in home decor and interior design. Because of this fact, home staging is also impacted by recent trends in home decor as potential buyers are possibly looking for familiar elements or arrangements that they expect to see in contemporary homes.

While home staging is geared towards depersonalizing the house and making it as neutral as possible for as many possible clients as possible, it does benefit from the integration of current home furniture trends. A staged property that features intelligently-selected furniture items that reflect popular trends in home design will be able to go head-to-head with other listings that are also staged for contemporary home buyers. This is more of a priority for homes in general areas that younger residents are flocking to, or in urban, professional districts where apartments or condominiums are the usual types of dwellings.

The following furniture trends are making waves in 2017:

Creative patterns and designs in couches and chairs. For sofa couches and living room chairs, prints and designs have become quite popular once more, especially if set in white backgrounds such as walls. You can throw in some solid-colored accent chairs with a sofa set with design patterns to create a visual contrast.

Beds equipped with storage spaces. Modern bed designs combined with drawer boxes or under-bed storage spaces are trending again, with a great number of home buyers choosing to downsize from larger homes or opting for practical options.

Antique and handcrafted furniture combined with modern arrangements. Many contemporary home furniture designers and experts are experimenting with the meshing of old and new furniture pieces. Antique furniture pieces or handcrafted artsy items from different countries are now considered as popular accent or functional additions to furniture arrangements.

Consumers are staying away from big and overpriced furniture. Consumers are choosing to be practical and look for furniture pieces that are smaller but cost-efficient, particularly furniture that are functional without taking up too much space or costing an arm and a leg.

White is in style. White is back, especially as background color or for furniture finish. They are simple to arrange and combine with other colors of furniture items, and makes the area bright and airy.

People need home offices. Workplace trends are also shifting, making it more usual for people to work part-time or full-time from their residences. Desks, chairs, and workstations that combine function and comfort are particularly attractive to today’s homeowners.

Make a Statement With Stylish Home Furniture

Your home furniture plays a vital role in making your style statement. Decorating a perfect house starts with selecting good furniture. So if your first choice is not perfect, then the end result might not be as fulfilling as you want. If you want the furniture to have class and durability, then investing in stylish home furniture would be the best choice.

What you choose to furnish your home is a reflection of your personal taste. This makes it important for you to first be clear on how you want to decorate your home, what kind of furniture you want to buy and how you want to go about it. Furniture is available in different varieties for all kind of rooms. Be it for the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom or even the patio, furniture of different sizes are needed most of your basic needs. Whatever type of furniture you decide to purchase; it should emphasize the character and style of your house.

Stylish home furniture comes in various designs, size, shape, structure and materials such as wood and metal. Though wood furniture is generally accepted as the best, metal furniture can also be a good substitute if the budget is low. A living room is an area where you host most of your parties and entertain guest, thus a lot of attention should be given there. As first impression is the last one consider the kind of sofas, coffee tables, TV stands and cabinets, end tables and other decorative accessories very carefully. They should not only be attractive but comfortable but most importantly go well with each other and also be careful not to overcrowd the living room.

The dining area is another important corner of your house which the guests are likely to visit. The furniture for this area in particular should ooze elegance. The dining table set should not only be visually attractive but also comfortable. Many homes have their dining room and kitchen combined. In that case you will have to make sure that the kitchen and the dining area have a common theme. All the miscellaneous, serving tables and the dining table should fit in such a way that it allows you easy movement around the place.

The bedroom is for your personal space. It should be designed in such a way that you can shed the entire day’s tiredness in a minute and relax in peace. Especially your bed! As soon as you fall on it you should be able to experience heaven. That’s the reason why people spend heavily for luxurious beds because there is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Apart from the bed your room also needs armories, dressers, night tables and some more storage furniture.

If you have kids around then you’ll have an additional room to be taken care of. Kid’s room furniture comes in attractive designs and styles. Apart from the indoors if you have a beautiful patio then get the chance to work with material like wicker and metal. Decorate it with benches, plant stands, love seats, coffee tables and anything which fits in well with the outdoor theme.

So now that you have many reasons to accentuate your house’s beauty from within and outside, bring home stylish modern furniture and enjoy all the extra attention.

What Travel Agents Need to Know About Corporate Travel Today

This is rightly named as the age of traveler centrality and with the evolution of the new era of personalized travel; it is leading to research and development of a host of new so-called intelligent services. The command-and-control perspectives of traveling have changed a lot from the past and the focus has shifted more on the traveler and the productivity of each trip. It has become essential to maintain that the travelers have the greatest return on investment on each trip. New generations of young employees and managers, who have been growing up and dwelling in a digital age, are moving up the ranks as travelers. It has become essential to recognize the need for greater flexibility acknowledging that the employees who travel on corporate trips also consider a percentage of their trip to be a leisure outlet. With increasing globalization and rise in companies sending their staff overseas to network and connect with their offshore prospects/customers/suppliers, corporate travel is a highly profitable tourism segment. Before we talk about how tourism companies can better cater to business travelers, let us first look at why they prefer to use specialized corporate agencies over traditional agents

Why do businesses use Corporate Travel Agencies?

This might be the most basic question for a travel agency as to why they need to use agencies specializing in corporate travel when there are plenty of regular travel agents in the market. Here is the importance of corporate travel agencies who have online systems which allow business travelers access to their complete itinerary.

The following information is at the fingertips of the CTAs:-

  • full business itinerary details
  • up-to-date tracking details of flights (including delays or rescheduling)
  • transparent details about additional costs such as baggage fees or in-flight fees
  • travel alerts, if any, in the destined area
  • complete and up-to-date details about the visa procurement policies and identification required
  • currency requirement and conversion rates

What do corporate clients expect from Corporate Travel Agencies?

Negotiated Fares

The Corporate Agencies tend to have tie-ups with hotels, car rentals, flights etc. giving them access to lower fares which can be used only by the frequent business travelers. Discounted prices are not the only advantage though as they also offer flight upgrades, room upgrades, and VIP check-in lines as required.

In-depth information about the travel industry

Corporate travel agents have access to many travel resources and most importantly, quickly, than any other leisure travel agent. Additional information helps to make the business trips convenient and comfortable.

Changes in Itinerary

When an airline ticket needs to get rescheduled or cancelled, chances are the airline or the online service provider will charge lofty fees. When booking with a corporate travel agent, most of the times schedule changes can be done at zero or minimal extra charges.

Viable emergency contacts

It is important for the business travelers to reach the correct person at the need of trouble. Corporate travel agents have the experience and professionalism to relieve stress for both the traveler and the company.

What you need to consider as corporate travel increases?

Business Travel Barometer reported that corporate travel is witnessing an accelerated growth. However, when poorly managed, it may be no longer an advantage to companies and may, in fact become a burden. There are some factors which the corporations and CTAs must consider to get the best out of the time spent traveling.

Adopting a travel policy

The corporate must define a travel policy which is applicable to and respected by travelers at all levels. This policy should be used to establish the standards which will help to track the improvement of business travel. It will eventually help to reduce the costs of the entire package.

Do not limit the traveler’s autonomy

The management is responsible for budgeting the travel policy which helps to improve cost management however, it is also essential to give a degree of autonomy to the traveler. The policy should be flexible enough to allow the employee to adapt the trip as per the situation.

Traveler’s security should be a major concern

Business travelers need to have security in place. The company needs to stick to its definition of standards to ensure the employee’s integrity. The CTAs should have reliable partners (travel insurance, airlines, hotel chains etc.).

Mobility and automation

To optimize time and ease the processes, the administration of management platforms should have automated processes. This means they should adopt mobile solutions where search options, travel alerts, ticket reservations etc. can be accessed quickly, easily and on the go.

Corporate Travel Trends in 2016

Corporate travel trends tend to change regularly. 2016 has also not been any different and the travel management companies (TMCs) and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) are quite focused to provide steady if not strong axis all over. A growing MICE sector, investments in mobile and big data and enhanced focus on duty of care are some of their areas of focus.

Rising prices

The consolidated buzzword among global suppliers, airfares, hotel rates etc. is the rising fares. It is sometimes the move of the suppliers to generate discounts which encourage travel if there is a strong decline in demand. A positive 2016 world economy has been bringing an increase in air fares of a few percentage points, hotels are expected to see 4%-6% rise in average global rates and the competition will remain moderate in the car rental services.

Duty of care

Risk management is one of the major points of emphasis for corporations. Corporate customers are allowing new policies and improved technologies to monitor employees’ location in case of an emergency, especially when they are traveling to foreign destinations. For instance, Concur Risk Messaging helps to identify the travelers moving around in the world and alerts them with alternate travel arrangement as and when needed.

Focusing on MICE

Meetings industry is a major growing sector and the corporate travel trend is developing on it. The corporate travel agencies should better start aligning the various meeting procurement methodologies with its transient travel sourcing. One of the ways could be to broaden the variety of meeting services by incorporating incentive trips within it.

Investing in technology

A sharper focus on increasing value and becoming more traveler centrist can be done by bringing in mobile friendly technologies. Mobile and big data are definitely the two most significant technological investments which any corporate travel agency must focus to make their platform more appealing.

Business travel analysis after Brexit

Following Brexit, ACTE and CAPA shared their speculations. According to them, the greatest short-term effects on the travel industry will come from the weakening of the pound against other world currencies. Greeley Koch, executive director for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said that the business travel industry will trend on currency fluctuations; with some companies taking advantage of the weaker pound and traveling more, while others may withhold business travel until world markets find their own level.

Impact of terrorism on corporate travelers

Travel policy makers and administrators need to be guided by rising terrorism scare. For executives and staff undertaking travel on behalf of businesses, the travel agents and corporate travel agencies (CTAs) should prove the reassurance for their safety through the travel policies. It is more than likely that the surveys conducted over corporate travelers reflect the general concern of the global business travelers about the spate of terrorism. However, there is no denying the fact that terrorist threat is changing the patterns of business travel. The key impact of this is to keep in mind that the companies providing travel services for business travelers need to enhance their focus on security and the associated risks in delivering the services to corporate clients. According to a recent finding, travel managers have higher estimation of their policy’s effectiveness in addressing risk compared to skeptical business travelers.

Concluding

Although the corporate travel sector has continued to progress, there are a plethora of challenges faced by the industry. A rapidly changing consumer market, the emergence of new business models, the impact of technology, man-made and natural crises are some of the fulcrum points that need to be considered before planning corporate trips.