Travel Advisor Corner: Travel Advisors as Therapists

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As travel advisors, we wear many different hats. One of them closely resembles that of the therapist. At various stages in trip planning, it’s not uncommon to have challenges arise that have less to do with the destination and more to do with fundamental fears, fantasies or misunderstandings. Your job is to help separate what’s normal trip planning and travel agita from deep-seated fears or desires.

Here are some we encounter with our clients.
• Pie-in-the-Sky Ideas: A client comes to us and they’re all over the globe as to where they want to go on their family vacation. Borneo? Patagonia? China? Truth is…they’re not going to any of these places because their spouse is a couch potato and rarely leaves the country (but they don’t mention this).

Your solution: Indulge them a bit by hearing them out, but reel them in by requesting specific dates and budget before throwing yourself into the job. Early on in your conversation with them, try to drill down to potential deal-breakers and don’t ignore the signs they give you like “Don’t spend too much time on it,” or “Money’s no object.”

Pre-Trip Jitters: Travel often takes us out of our comfort zones—especially if it’s international and especially if it’s to a very foreign country (different language, different socio-economic situation). As the trip date approaches, it’s not uncommon to have clients discover some major reason why they shouldn’t go. Terrorism? Ebola?
A rise in crime?

Your solution: Provide your client with facts about the fears they may be having. And let them know that evaluating a country by what they hear in the news is like seeing a room through a keyhole.

Melancholies du Voyage: As a travel advisor, you should be keeping in touch with your clients while they are away—even if it’s just one e-mail checking in on them. That said, every now and then you may hear back something negative that has more to do with their mood or energy level than the experience itself. This is most likely to happen when they are jet lagged, homesick or anxious about coming home.

Your solution: Listen carefully to what’s bothering them. If it’s something you can take action on (move them out of noisy room), do it. If it’s something related to how they are feeling, remind them that the trip is going to be over before they know it and to enjoy every moment.

Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Westport, CT. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.

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