travel advisors save you time and money

The trip was un fait accompli. The client had already booked her family's tickets, round-trip flights to Rome. She emailed a description of the itinerary she wanted to plan, the hotels where they wanted to stay, and the tours they wanted to take. But the email began with a logistical detail she wanted help with.

We arrive FCO 7/7 at 10:35am. We would like to go straight to Venice (train-shortest time and first class)

Before I go any further, have you noticed the big "OOPS" in this request?

Providing a second pair of eyes to look over an itinerary is an invaluable service. The client had messed up big time by booking round trip flights to Rome. She planned to begin her family vacation by taking the train to Venice. Assume the best case scenario... their flight arrives on time and they make it through immigration and customs in an hour. They hop on an 11:40 a.m. train, change to another train in Rome, and arrive in Venice at 4:40 p.m. Best case scenario is 5 hours on a train after 8 hours on a jet, the first day of their vacation essentially wasted.

Now consider the worst case scenario. They've bought the least expensive (non-flexible) train tickets because that's our instinct when we purchase things on the internet. Their flight arrives late, or Italian immigration is not especially efficient, or their bags don't appear on the carousel, or they have trouble finding the train station ... and they miss their train to Venice. If this happens, they're screwed. The hundreds of dollars they've spent on First Class train tickets have gone down the drain.

Any good travel advisor obsesses over logistics. If you want to book your own air, that's absolutely fine with me. But do you know the difference between round-trip and open-jaw itineraries? Do you know how to search for "Multi-City" instead of "Round Trip" flights? If you don't, do yourself a favor and call your travel advisor before you buy your tickets.

And the coup de grĂ¢ce? A savvy travel advisor could likely have saved hundreds or thousands of dollars on her Delta tickets by booking bulk fares through Delta Vacations.

But everyone loves a happy ending, and this story has one. I advised her to call Delta and change their outbound flight from Rome to Venice. She was able to make the switch, for exactly the same fare ... so instead of searching in the fog of jet lag for the train station in the Rome Airport, someone from A&K will meet them at baggage claim in Venice, porter their luggage, and escort them straight to the private water taxi that will be waiting for them.

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