There’s a reason we use the term “consultant” to describe our travel professionals in Camino Travel!
These experts offer much more than reservation services. First and prime, says Marcela Valverde (Our Sales Department Coordinator), they can help you choose where to go by walking you through the pros and cons of destinations based on the varying interests (and ages) of the people in your group as well as they’ll deliver insider insights and access. They can tell you how to avoid the crowds at major sights and where the locals eat. They can even get you top notch naturalists or birders who will get you to the magic of the rainforest in a blink… or that one desired bird sight that you’ve been dreaming of. They get a local artist special gallery, and direct you to hidden corners of San José or… the unknown gems of the South of Costa Rica. And they also, crucially, know how to put together a whole itinerary.
I learned about the advantages of hiring a real pro when traveling the hard way, as a few months ago when I (travel writer and former product manager and tour guide that I am) foolishly arranged my own hotel and tours in Mexico City after a tour guide’s congress in Michoacan. After consulting with an advisor late in the game, I learned that the best area to stay according to my history hobbies was not even close to where I chose my hotel (Seeing reviews in Trip Advisor and booking with an OTA), that the pyramids tour was a shopping disaster with an agency and guide that couldn’t care less about their passengers desires and wishes, and that two days spent walking around, could have been a lot better used if I had some advice of where to go. Worst of all is that the only person that I could complain to… was in my morning mirror!
Even if you’re not planning a particularly complicated or exotic trip, it’s worth considering the extra value of professional advice. Much of the travel industry is built on relationships, both formal and informal, and the years that Camino Travel has in the business have created some of the best. And this can pay off—literally—for you.
VIP Treatment: Camino Travel and Premio DMC have collective buying power to deliver guaranteed rates as well as perks for their clients. What that may mean for you: In the chaotic spell of the San Jose airport and even before you exit to dozens of signs and calls, you will find someone, nice and friendly, inside the airport, to guide you to your guide and driver. And, then, you will have a short but valuable briefing where you will have someone telling you about the details of your trip, reviewing that everything is set, and answering any left questions you may have.
Travel Consultants also guarantee punctual and top notch services in transportation and guiding. And since Camino Travel is making a commission off the booking, you won’t be charged a markup. Advisors who do a lot of business with a particular company may have additional preferred status, which translates into even more perks for clients. And then, there are the informal relationships that top advisors cultivate with hotel general managers around the world. So chances are, if you’re looking to book with Camino, through an agency or directly, on the back of the stage there’s someone getting you more bang for your buck.
Lower Rates: The most affordable rates and fares aren’t always found online, especially when it comes to luxury travel. Hotels that don’t drop their prices for online travel agencies often offer special deals and promotions to members of their consortia—who, in turn, alert our clients. These can be everything from four nights for the price of three to an upgrade to a suite or an ocean view room. Travel advisors frequently have access to lower prices than those available to the public, usually as a result of consortium contracts. As well due to the local knowledge, they know which the best –and the worst – rooms are. They know the hotels, they have stayed in their rooms, as one of the bonuses of being a travel consultant in Camino Travel is to stay in hotels and do the tours simply to inspect and give advice… to you.
About the Rooms: That sold-out hotel that you waited too long to book? It’s not always sold out. Camino Travel has contracts with our vendors to save some spaces for us. For Guanacaste in December or Easter at Manuel Antonio, our advisors are known for clearing out space for their clients. They’re also skilled at putting travelers in the right rooms, avoiding the misleadingly named “Garden Views” that overlook parking lots or cabins set right below the fitness room. (Beware the early morning step class.)
What about a little hiccups: Every trip has its portion of hiccups. The small ones can be fun (or at least educational) to steer. The big ones—a missed plane; a cloud of volcanic ash—can be a nightmare.
As a good example of this, in March alone, there were thousands of people stranded in the airport because of the eruptions of the Turrialba Volcano. In situations such as these, the value of our operations department really kicks in. Passengers were communicated of the situation as soon as it happened, those who needed hotels were immediately booked, and their agencies in the different countries re-booked their flights. Everything was under control at all times. And the passenger merely had to stay one more night, at a cost that the agencies help to claim to their travel insurance companies.
Lost luggage? Operations will help track your bags and if needed, they have even been known to keep a local store open late so you can buy replacement clothes in the meantime. Ask our operations guys about his or her after-hours service before you book. Especially if they are the ones with the 24/7 emergency line.
The advantages of hiring a specialist for your vacation are truly infinite. The comparison is almost unnecessary, especially when you already lost your precious vacation time.
And vacation time is absolutely precious, for you, for your family life, your health and even your vigorous work life. Don’t stress in it. Let the experts do the work… and you do the vacation.
Written by Olga Sáenz-Carbonell