A look at the role of top travel advisors and where they get their knowledge about the latest in travel (the secret is spelled ILTM)
There’s a truth about travel that savvy globetrotters have figured out: It almost doesn’t matter where you go. The world is filled with beautiful, exciting places to visit, so any destination you pick has the potential to be your Best Trip Ever. The challenge is to unlock that potential — to somehow find the magical travel moments that make your jaw drop with wonder, your taste buds go wild with a new flavor, or trigger a shared laugh with someone who was a stranger five minutes ago. Those are the memories we want to bring home, and the search for them keeps us heading back out into the world again and again.
Here’s a secret: Travel advisors are your key to those moments—they can open the doors that lead to the most authentic interactions, as well as provide special access to sights and steer you to the newest luxury properties and experiences. Top travel advisors stay on top of developments around the world at ILTM events—that’s short for International Luxury Travel Market—where vetted advisors are selected to attend the gatherings in Cannes, Cape Town, Dubai, the Riviera Maya, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Singapore. At the events, they can travel the world in three days, learning about the most exciting developments around the globe. Then they are able to bring that knowledge to their clients.
Here are five ways a travel agent who attends ILTM can elevate your travel experience to a whole new level.
1. Insider experiences and special access
The best travel agents have great connections to talented artisans, a variety of VIPs, interesting locals, and unconventional, uncrowded sights that will help travelers access the very heart of a place and find personal ways to connect with it. Maybe you’re a wine lover who would love to spend the afternoon at a centuries-old, family-run vineyard. Or a foodie who craves personal kitchen time with a local chef. Or perhaps you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for the rush of the most off-the-beaten path adventures, far from the tourist hordes? Top travel advisors can make it all happen. Thanks to their own scouting trips and from updates about new trends and properties at the annual International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), they have rich networks of contacts and colleagues who keep them tuned in to truly special experiences and opportunities not available to the general masses of tourists.
No two people are alike, so their vacation itineraries shouldn’t be either. Every traveler is unique, with different tastes, different needs, and a different definition of what makes a good trip. That’s why it’s so hard for those one-size-fits-all packages that come off the rack—or off the Internet—to satisfy every family, group of friends, or solo traveler. A knowledgeable agent can tailor your trip to exactly what works for you. Need a family trip that entertains the kids, parents, and grandparents equally well? A honeymoon that’s more than just lying around on pretty beaches? A milestone birthday excursion for a well-traveled spouse who’s already seen and done it all? They have ideas, thanks in part to ILTM events, where they can choose from a hotlist of travel ideas and learn about opportunities around the world for all of their clients. The benefit of partnering with a travel agent—of having a real person to talk to—is that you will get straight answers, smart itineraries, and access to experiences that simply aren’t available online. Because the very best travel agents create tailored journeys for travelers, not tourists.
Travel is an investment of your time and your money. You work hard for both of those things, and travel advisors understand that neither should be wasted. Their mission is to maximize value for you, no matter your budget. And we’re not talking about finding the cheapest deals on the Internet (which could end up making you pay in other ways, quality, comfort, rote checklists of crowded tourist stops). We’re talking about getting the best possible experience within the parameters you set. They’ll be able to guide you on crucial details like the right time of year to be in each location, the best-placed accommodations at each stop, how to suss out that sweet spot of low crowds and good prices, and how to avoid the crowds if you are traveling during high season.
4. Peace of mind
The same way small details can elevate a trip, small snags can detract from one: a missed train connection, unexpected construction at your hotel, bad weather that cancels a long-awaited day of hiking in a national park. The good news is that when you hire a skilled travel agent, you always have a fixer in your corner. They can tap their network to get you where you need to be, smooth out unexpected speed bumps, or even plan alternative activities on the fly.
Finally, and most importantly, when you build a trip with an experienced travel advisor, you aren’t just building a vacation, you’re building a relationship. That’s because travel agents take the time to really understand their clients because when you’re happy, they win too. For the top agents, like those who attend ILTM, their job is less about selling travel and more about creating amazing life experiences that exceed your expectations. And that’s not a secret.
If your travel agent wants to learn more about ILTM events, visit http://www.iltm.com/americas/buyers/enquire.