Tag Archives: travel agent

Happy 2018 All!

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January 10, 2018 · 7:47 am

2018 Travel Trends from our Travel Agents

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We asked our agents the upcoming travel trends they see in the coming year. Here are their Top Predictions for 2018:

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Getting to Know One Place

More and more of our clients want to stay and get to know a place intimately. After all, isn’t it a hassle to unpack every day and head to different hotels each night? Slow down your pace, kick back, and “go local.” Spend less time rushing from town square to town square, and more time sipping coffee or wine at an outdoor café watching the new landscape unfold in front of you.  

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Intimate Cruising

Cruises have always been popular, but we’re definitely seeing more clients look to unique itineraries: small ship cruises and river cruises set outside of Europe. During peak travel periods, European waterways and towns along the rivers can experience overcrowding and high water levels, so we sometimes recommend that clients look at alternative rivers—the Mekong or Yangtze for instance. Many reputable tour companies, such as Viking Cruises and Alexander + Roberts, offer spectacular land + cruises to discover the heart of Asia. Small ship cruise lines, such as Windstar, also provide a more personal service and slower itinerary that’s unavailable with a larger cruise ship. Clients that aren’t necessarily into cruises may find what their looking for with small ships that are destination-focused, with long days and evenings in the port, as well as offer tasty food and a casual ambiance.

Small Group Travel

A Small Group is any group under 20 participants. The smaller a group, the more exclusive experiences that you can’t get on your own, and has the ability to market toward your individual needs and interests. Long a love of baby boomers, we’re seeing millennial travelers in particular, who once preferred striking it on their own, curious about small groups. Tour operators like G Adventures really tailor their trips to this crowd, providing unique, spur-of-the-moment trips that offer something really unique. Alexander + Roberts is also known for its small groups. Fancy a private tour of the Vatican Museum? Book a small group tour with Willamette Intl Travel.

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Active Adventures

Adventure Travel is at an all-time high in the industry, and even the less adventurous can join in on the fun. We’re seeing the rise of awesome active tours—even among ages 70+—that include hikes, bikes, off-the-beaten-track itineraries. Get out of the city and instead spend a week touring special small towns, in a small group no less. Enjoy the elephant orphanage at Ithumba Camp in Kenya, have lunch with a KGB officer, admire the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, swim with a wild ray off Kailua-Kona on the Big Island… the experiences are out there. Get active!

Solo Travelers

Good news for solo adventurers! Solo travelers are getting their due – popping more on the radar of tour and cruise companies. We’re seeing solo supplements shrinking, as it gets less costly to travel on your own.

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Asia

Asia, always popular with our West Coast clients, is abuzz—with diving and cultural tours in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. Japan, always a trend, is seeing a lot of intriguing culture-focused cruises around the country (already selling out fast!). We’ll definitely be seeing a rise of Japan travel, especially considering the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo is just around the corner.

Europe

Summer in Europe is already booking up – no surprise there! We’re seeing a lot of awesome small ship sailing around Croatia and the Adriatic Sea for folks with families. If the Mediterranean holds your heart, we’re seeing unusual itineraries off the usual Rome, Amalfi Coast and Venice — especially Sicily and Puglia (southern boot), both of which have been receiving a lot of press in the last year. Portugal is also back with a vengeance, extremely affordable for Europe, rich in culinary delights, hotels and sea views at a singular price. On the flip side, Scandinavia—despite its expensive reputation—is also seeing a resurgence of interest—in particular, Norway. Has Oslo, Copenhagen or Stockholm been on your bucket list for a while? Seeking out traces of your ancestors’ roots in the Scandic countryside? Don’t wait – plan your summer in Europe now!

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Africa

All of our clients who have been to East Africa talk of it as an experience “of a lifetime,” and WIT Owners Christina and John return every year for its incredible landscape, herds, and people. Sadly, we are getting more reports of dwindling elephant and rhino populations, and the future is uncertain for these graceful animals. We hope more see the immeasurable value of Africa before it’s too late.

Australia

Australia has definitely been on the up the past year, and this year will likely be no different. Clients are interested in exploring Australia in-depth, and its many curious corners, for a longer time period—it’s huge after all, nearly 3 million square miles—booking a month or longer.

 

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Filed under Asia, Europe

What it’s Like Using a Travel Agent

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Willamette Intl Travel is a travel agency based in Portland, Oregon.
Thought about using a Travel Agent to book your next trip, but not sure what that might entail? According to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), 85% of all cruises and 70% of all tours are finalized through travel agencies. Agents are invaluable resources who work tirelessly to provide you with excellent service before, during and after your trip.
 
But what does working with a travel agent entail, exactly? Particularly one of our awesome travel agents at Willamette Intl Travel? Let’s take a look!
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HAVE A CHAT

The first step involves sitting down with one of our qualified travel agents and discussing the potential trip. Sometimes clients have an exact itinerary already in mind, sometimes they have just a general idea. Your travel agent, with their years of experience and information, can help you narrow down your ideal trip.
This is the time to get a sense of your travel style, your needs, preferences, and budget, in order to plan the perfect package for you and your family. Your travel needs are the most important factor to us. We don’t try to upsell you or push an itinerary or destination when it obviously doesn’t work for you. We’ll find one that fits you best.
 
Agents typically ask for passport names and ages at this point, which will be necessary down the line to hold space on airlines, hotels or cruises.
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ENCYCLOPEDIC RESOURCES

Swimming through the endless volume of options on the internet can be a headache–that’s where the agent comes in. Travel agents do all the legwork for you, and draw from their vast, firsthand experiences in the industry. They know which tour guides to recommend and which cruise ship best fits your style and budget.
If you want a romantic week away, maybe a resort on Maui. More the adventurous type? We’ll recommend Costa Rica over, say, the Bahamas. If you want something new and luxurious—why not try river-cruising in Myanmar? We keep in mind travel trends and plan accordingly.
 
At this point, we communicate with you mostly by email and phone. Some clients prefer to return to the office to discuss the details of the trip further but it’s not absolutely necessary.
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DISCOUNTS AND PERKS

Next, we look into discounts and perks. We have access to offers and special packages that are sometimes exclusive to travel agents, or even to our particular agency. We might know which travel guide might be a perfect fit for you, and other times we supply a couple options to choose from. The industry is constantly changing, and as travel agents, we keep abreast of all changes.
 
This on-the-feet, out-of-the-box thinking especially comes in handy for a tailored or unusual trip, such as a cruise to Svalbard, vacation to Hokkaido, hike through the Dolomites, or safari in Namibia or Indonesia. We know how much a relief it is to speak to someone face-to-face who knows so much about the destination and has probably been there.
 
We work daily with global software platforms, which gives us backend access to air, hotel, car or other travel services worldwide, and compare prices and routes, to get you the most value for your price point.
 
We also assist with groups, such as wedding parties to Cancun, multigenerational trips to Disneyland, or educational programs to Lagos. We know it’s a headache to coordinate everyone’s plane, hotel, cars–and it’s our pleasure to do it for you.
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PROPOSALS

Once we come up with a plan, or even a few plans to choose from, we send our proposals your way. What’s more, we’ll advise you of any foreign travel requirements to your destination: travel advisories, required documents, weather conditions. We’ll answer any questions you might have. We always include any special terms and conditions, and notify you if something is nonrefundable.

RESERVATIONS

Once you give approval, depending on the trip, we may put a deposit or full payment down at this point. We never make deposits without checking with you first. Many tour guides or cruises require a deposit, with gradual payments or full payment required closer to departure. In some cases, tour guides require full payment upfront. If this is the case, we advise you accordingly.
Once first deposit is made, we recommend a travel insurance plan that is right for you. (Read more reasons why we love travel insurance.)

PERKS

Where it’s possible, we call in all the connections we’ve solidified over decades in the business. We contact the Sales Rep at the hotel or resort, and plan a special something at your hotel. Whether it’s a room upgrade, fee waiver, or popular but unattainable tour reservations–we’ll do our best to draw in all the perks. 
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DURING YOUR TRIP

Once you depart, our live phone service is available 24/7 for booked clients, to reach in case of emergency. If your flight is delayed and you miss your airport pickup, we’ll make the call. We work as a team, keeping extensive files on all of our clients, so if the agent with whom you booked is not available for some reason, another agent can fully assist you in an emergency. This type of personalized attention just simply isn’t available when you book through an online travel site. If some mishap happens, if your room is unacceptable or your ferry is delayed, you can call your travel agent and we’ll do our best to serve. 

AFTER YOUR TRIP

Welcome back! We’re thrilled that you booked with us. If there are any loose ends with any of your arrangements that we can help out with, we’ll happily address them.

willamette intl travel: expert trip curators and counselors

Are you in the Portland area? Give us a call! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, North America, South America

Client Trip Report: Why Antarctica continues to be the most Awe-Inspiring Destination

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Willamette Intl Travel booked an amazing trip for our long-time clients Doug and Diane. They sailed on an unforgettable voyage to Antarctica last December. So in the interest of sharing it with our readers, we’ve made up a presentation that we think you’ll love—chock-full of firsthand feedback, quotes, tips, and gorgeous photos. We hope you enjoy it!

Take Me on a Virtual Voyage to Antarctica!

 

Thinking about a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica?

Let us advise you!

We’ve sent dozens of clients to explore the lonely continent. Nothing prepares you for the sheer beauty of its nature. Call us for a consultation now: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

I had no idea that ice, mountains, icebergs, clouds, flat water, sky, and sun could work together to make such beautiful scenes.  I was in awe the whole trip.

–Doug D.

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Filed under Antarctica, Argentina, Cruises, G Adventures, South America

Why More & More Millennials are Using Travel Agents

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Millennials are Turning to Travel Agents for that Personalized Touch

In the past few years, we’ve seen more and more millennials come into the office. Recent travel trends pave the way for customized, one-of-a-kind tours. Millennials are independent, they are internet-savvy, and they’re on the lookout for special travel experiences. That’s where travel agents come in.

Travel agents can be a great resource to tap into what’s new and unique in the travel market. We go out of our way to tailor each trip to the client.

A Better Travel Experience

A 2016 study from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) found that 34% of millennial travelers have booked a trip through a travel agent. These days, travelers have tried it all—booked direct, booked online through a third party, consulted travel agents. There’s so much information online, it can be overwhelming to sort through what is genuine and what is merely a cookie-cutter package. Agents know the industry inside and out, and understand what might work according to particular travel styles. Those who have worked with travel agents report a better travel experience overall when tapping into an agency’s resources and know-how.

Great for Groups and Niches 

Millennials also tend to travel in groups more these days than ever. They fly home or abroad for bachelorette parties, reunions, weddings, etc. Agents listen to what clients need and manage accommodation, transportation, fun activities and group discounts.

Agents are also helpful especially for niche travel and exotic locales. Travelers looking to ride a riverboat down the Amazon jungle, take a gastro-tour of Vietnam, swim with the sharks, or enjoy a Namibian safari, would certainly benefit from agents who can offer decades of knowledge, exclusive discounts and a personalized, human touch.

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to speak to one of our travel agents today!

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Filed under Europe, Our Travel Agents

Happy Thanksgiving! & 6 Surprises in Sweden

Happy Thanksgiving Week to All our Readers!

As a Thanksgiving present, we are happy to share with you our latest Newsletter for Fall 2016! Read it Here as a PDF. Here you’ll find the latest museums in Europe, where to go to see the Northern Lights in N. America, cruises to Tahiti, and client reports to Dubai, Cuba, England, and more! Plus get the scoop on the Kenya 2017 Escorted Tour with WIT Owners Christina and John.

And just a Note: Our office and blog will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 24 & 25.

Today we feature a fun little some’in from the desk of our roaming social media correspondent, Wailana, currently living in Stockholm:  Continue reading

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Conscientious Traveler: Celebrated Experiences

 

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Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler—our monthly series in which we showcase one of our fantastic partners with projects that support the environment, wildlife and local communities. This month, we feature Celebrated Experiences.

 

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Celebrated Experiences offers customized trips to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy. They curate perfect vacations with castles, boutique hotels, country hotels, small bed & breakfasts, and apartments (breakfast always included!). Itineraries can be highly personalized, with themes ranging from Gardens; Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Film Locations, History, Culinary, Genealogy — plus chauffeurs and guides.

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Their team personally inspects each property they book, and they constantly review, add and drop properties, ensuring great stays for our clients. Their destination experts and entertaining guides have walked the villages and explored off-the-beaten path locales in order to anticipate each guest’s need and wish. They are a marvelous travel company and just celebrated their 25th Anniversary. 

 

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Stay in a 12-Century castle in Tuscany, Italy

Wake up in Ballynahinch Castle in the heart of stunning Connemara, Ireland

Treat yourself at the luxurious, award-winning five-star Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Golf on its own private island near Loch Lomond in Scotland

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Celebrated Experiences’ unique philanthropic program donates a dollar for every hotel room night! We at Willamette Intl Travel are proud to partner up with such great companies that take the time to give back. As 2016 was their most successful year ever, this year they are donating more than $23,500 to important causes!

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Foundations include Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and The Alzheimer’s Foundation. They also donate $500 to the favorite cause of each member of their team, including:

  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • St. Jude Children’s Hospital
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Pediatric Cancer Foundation
  • Prostate Cancer Foundation
  • PAWS Atlanta
  • US Navy Memorial
  • Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary
  • Children’s Miracle Network  

Every little bit helps and no booking is too small!

Call Willamette Intl Travel to find out more about these exclusive properties: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

 

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Filed under Accommodation, Conscientious Traveler, England, Europe, Family Travel, Ireland, Itinerary