How I Work - As a Modern Day Travel Advisor
Hello! If we haven't been introduced already - my name is Alicia Mitchell, and I am the owner/operator of Evening Star Travel - it's great to meet you!
I thought that I would give everyone a little bit of insight into how I work and show what to expect when you book an amazing vacation through me.
This is my chosen career, and my full time job. I love what I do, I'm passionate about it, and I love learning every day.
Evening Star Travel is my business, founded in January 2016. I am the sole proprietor, and I am backed by a fantastic organization called Nexion Travel Group Canada. Nexion is my host agency. They are who I get my tools through, and support me and my business through various apps, access, and support. I also have a great collective of other travel advisors through this organization that I consult with and advise on various topics. Heaven-forbid, if I was hit by a freight train tomorrow, Nexion would assist and make sure that all of my clients were looked after.
I work 9am - 5pm on work days.
I can make myself available on the weekend or on the evening by appointment. I also enjoy family time with my family on long weekends, and there are times that I take vacations. When we start working together, I will let you know when my upcoming vacations are, and I will always send out reminder emails to my newsletter mailing list about a week prior to my vacation (to sign up to be on my mailing list, click here: Evening Star Travel Newsletter).
Regarding my vacations, there are typically two types: one is a working vacation where I am inspecting sites and locations, and one is where I enjoy some downtime with my family. I do not work on any new inquiries or non-urgent matters during these times. There is one exception to this rule though:
I am on call 24/7 while you are travelling.
Before you leave on your trip, I will go through all the details with you either in person or over the phone. I will provide you with my personal cell phone number, so you can reach out at any point in time.
When I first get a request for a new trip, I always like to meet with you.
I do these meetings either in person, over the phone, or via Zoom. This allows me to go through all the things you are looking for in a trip, your likes, your dislikes, what your goals are, and you hobbies. This allows me to best match you with the best trip that works for you and to make sure that we are a good match for each other.
After we have met, it will take some time to pull quotes together. The length of time this takes depends on a few things like what type of trip you are looking for, which suppliers work best for you, if we are in busy or slow booking season, etc.... I will let you know during our meeting how long it will take to get quotes.
For most trips, it takes between one business days to one week to send quotes.
Sometimes it can be quicker, sometimes it takes longer. The more complex a trip, and the more changes and details involved, will increase the time it takes to put together. In many instances (depending on the type of trip), we are working with trusted suppliers (who only work with travel agents), and we work together to create a quote, so sometimes we need to wait for them to get back to us on certain items.
I only work with reliable suppliers, and I am not tied down to "preferred suppliers."
Especially with what was experienced with the pandemic, I only work with reliable suppliers, who I know and are trusted within the wider travel advisor community. I am not tied down to "preferred suppliers", and will gladly work with any supplier who would work best for my client, as long as they are trusted and well known. Just a note though, I don't work with the vast majority of home sharing services (like AirBNB, or VRBO), and I've outlined why I don't in my other blog post here: Think Twice Before Booking AirBNB
As soon as possible, I will need an image of your passport (for all guests), your street address, your contact phone number and your email.
These things can take a significant amount of time to enter into my database. If we can get them entered in before you make a decision of what trip you want to take, it will streamline this process much better. Let's say you are a family of 5 who decides at 3pm on a Friday which resort they want to book in Mexico, but I haven't received the passports. It will not get booked until at least the next business day - there simply isn't enough time to enter all these details into my system, send out the authorization form, and get the resort booked within that time frame.
If these details are sent to me ahead of time, I can get them entered into my databases so that we are ready to go when you are ready to book. The only thing I may need when you are ready to book is your credit card information - you are certainly welcome to send this to me ahead of time, but if you don't feel comfortable doing that - it is easy to get it entered in quickly. There is an incredible amount of paperwork that is involved in booking a trip.
I do not book anything until I've received a signed authorization form.
Once you have advised me on what trip you want to book, I will create an authorization form that outlines all of the details of your trip exactly as we discussed. It will include the terms and conditions of the suppliers, and other information that I legally need to include. This will be send via email through Docusign - one of the most reliable and secure online signature collection programs available. I will not book anything until I receive that signature authorizing the booking. This ensures that all details are exactly as we discussed, and protects you and me.
I will provide you with all of the entry requirements when you book.
Now, with COVID, entry requirements are changing so quickly, it's likely that the entry requirements for the locations you are going to will change prior to your trip. However, I will send you the current requirements for the location and the service providers you are travelling with. If you only paid a deposit, and you have a final payment coming up, I will again revisit those entry requirements for the location and for the services providers prior to making a final payment. I will also, provide the current information to you around two weeks prior to your departure to make sure you are fully prepared for any requirements.
Now, requirements can change in between these times that I am providing you the requirements. If I see them and know that it will greatly affect your booking, I will certainly let you know. That being said, you are ultimately responsible for any requirements by the country or the service provider.
Hold times with some suppliers have been hours, and hours, and hours, and hours long lately.
As your travel advisor, I can find out a lot of information without being on hold with the supplier, or if I do need to call up the supplier - I'm the one on hold waiting - not you.
I am here for you for any questions, inquiries or changes regarding your trip.
Feel free to reach out at any point in time.
As mentioned, around two weeks prior to your trip I will confirm all your travel details with the supplier and service providers to ensure that everything is good to go.
I will meet with you to go over all the details, including all of the requirements to go and come back so that you are fully prepared for your trip. I will also give you lots of tips and tricks to help make your trip be as smooth as possible.
I am on call 24/7 (even if I am on vacation), when you are travelling.
Sometimes it's easier to handle any issues with the people who are working on the ground where you are, at other times, it's much easier to reach out to your friendly neighborhood travel advisor. Especially with these changing times, being able to have a travel advisor is like having a lucky pass in your back pocket.
I had clients who had booked through me be stuck in destination in Spain when Covid hit. They got on the call with me, and I assured them that I would sort it out. I was able to get them home quickly using their existing flights (with an unexpected overnight in Amsterdam). These clients were travelling with other guests who booked on their own through points. Those other guests were on the phone for hours trying to sort everything out and get home.
I love booking trips and helping clients plan the vacation of their dreams.
I hope that this has helped you find out how I work for you to plan and book amazing trips. As always, if you have any questions - don't hesitate to reach out to me.
To book your next dream vacation - when the time is right to travel - reach out to me through email at Alicia@EveningStarTravel.ca, or by calling 587 772 2525. I am located in Sherwood Park, Alberta (a suburb of Edmonton), and am a Travel Advisor specializing in River Cruising, Beach Escapes, and Custom Vacations. I am the owner/operator of Evening Star Travel, and I book travel for clients all across Canada.