The travel industry was almost upended with the rise of Google Search and BIY (book-it-yourself) sites like Booking.com and Airbnb. As would-be adventurers and people just hoping to get away for a day or two soon found out, however, it was difficult truly experiencing a city or new country without in-depth background knowledge.
In the following article, we’ll be talking about a rising industry that has evolved to meet the demand for travelers weary and uncertain about the best ways to explore a specific location. Let’s begin!
What Is a Destination Specialist?
The question gets asked a lot, do people still use travel agents? Well, yes, the travel industry still sees its share of people who choose agents.
But a new job title has evolved from the traditional agents of the past: introducing the destination specialist. A destination specialist goes much further by personalizing each trip for the individual.
How does that differ from a travel agent? In the next section, we’ll show you.
Travel Agents vs. Destination Specialists
Never mind the creative travel agency names out there. Many of them are generalists that lack a more intimate knowledge of the area. All they usually know is what they get from the hotel and what they’re able to research on the Internet.
Occasionally, a travel agent can provide deeper insight into a community if they’ve been there themselves. But for the most part, they can’t help you find the best chicken-fried steak in Arkansas or the best local microbrew.
That’s where destination specialists come in. They’re able to speak with clients to get a sense of who they are and what they’d really enjoy doing. The specialist can then incorporate that into the client’s next holiday.
Why Choose a Destination Specialist?
Even the best travel agency to work for is going to struggle to find employees who are specific to a given area. Those employees are critical to forming a memorable trip for the customer. Here’s how these destination specialists are able to do it.
1. Intimate Knowledge of the Area
If you’re writing up a travel agency business plan, you’d better find room for destination specialists. These men and women will be your biggest asset for growing the company thanks to their extensive knowledge of the live-work-play vibe built into their traveling circles.
Because of this knowledge, destination specialists are capable of giving their clients higher value in the services they provide. That translates to a trip worth remembering.
Another essential for the future of travel is the ability to be flexible with itineraries and schedules. Destination specialists know enough about the area that they can always pack your itinerary with more exciting stuff to do (or relaxing downtime, take your pick).
3. Constant Availability
A travel agency may keep regular hours. But a destination specialist typically is accessible around the clock for the duration of a client’s journey.
They are support professionals who are there to troubleshoot and adapt to changing conditions. For example, they can find alternative activities for a client if weather delays affect certain events on the itinerary. A major goal is to ensure the client’s trip is free from unwanted lag time.
4. Relationship Building
A growing number of people prefer experience gifts over material objects. But if you don’t know any better, those experiences can quickly turn into one night after the other of restaurants, movies, and putt-putt golf. In other words, things you could be doing at home for much cheaper.
Destination specialists work to ensure your vacation is anything but ordinary. They do this by developing relationships with business owners, subject matter experts, and adventure-friendly locations within the target area. They are then able to package those experiences as part of the overall trip.
Relationships allow destination specialists to give their clients truly unique experiences. And they do it at a fraction of the cost the client would be paying otherwise if they had to seek these experiences out on their own.
A destination specialist doesn’t feed the same itinerary to each client. He or she gets to know the client first by speaking with them and tailoring the schedule with experiences in line with that person’s personality.
For example, a traveler who loves to cook may get special one-on-one time with an area chef to learn how they can make some of the area’s more popular food creations. That type of personalization really sets destination specialists apart.
How to Know When You Are Ready for a Destination Specialist
Hiring anyone, agent or specialist, to plan your vacation can be intimidating. This especially is true for the cost-conscious. Before you make that call or book that appointment, see if any of the following describes where you are mentally.
You Are Tired of Seeing the Same Blog Posts
You want your trip to be unforgettable. Filled with stories that’ll make your friends and family members jealous. Unfortunately, every time you hit the web for ideas, you run into trouble.
Every article about “things to do in [wherever]” is loaded with the same 10 or 15 things. There’s no true local flavor to any of it.
If you feel like all the research you’re doing is resulting in the same ideas, consider giving a destination specialist or travel agency a call.
You Find Yourself Doing the Same Things with Your Free Time
How are your days off spent? Are you and that special someone frequenting the same places, eating the same meals, spending all your time at one or two recreational activities?
Life has more to offer. And if you’re planning to travel for your vacation, it’s important to step outside of the routines and implement a more adventurous spirit.
You Are Fascinated by a Specific Location
Always wanted to go to New York City or Ireland? These types of places are so rich with history and notoriety that it’s understandable why you’d be fascinated by them.
They’re not alone in their uniqueness either. If one location attracts your attention more than any other, then you owe it to yourself to see what it has to explore from someone who truly knows the area.
The Travel Industry Is Evolving
Today’s travel industry has evolved to embrace personalization and shun the one-size-fits-all model of yesteryear. To make the most of it, consider a destination specialist for your next long weekend or vacation.