Concierge.com’s Recipe for the Perfect Trip

Conde Nast Traveler’s annual directory of top travel specialists is now a searchable database on Concierge.com

NEW YORK, Aug. 15 /PRNewswire/ — Concierge.com, the Internet’s leading resource for inspired travel and the online home of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, has launched The Travel Agent Finder. This tool is a searchable directory of professionals, vetted by Consumer News Editor, Wendy Perrin, where users can search by destination, area of interest, and/or preferred type of accommodation. The object is to match the specifics of your next dream trip to the travel specialist who can help make it happen.

For instance, looking for a three-day jaunt to Mexico? Conduct the search by selecting “Mexico” from the Destinations list, and then refining the search by “Quick-trip beach resorts.” The tool comes up with four travel agents, including one described as a “whiz when it comes to all inclusive resorts,” and another who’s made “90-plus trips to Mexico.” Each is listed with a website and contact information.

The recommended specialists undergo a rigorous screening process that includes a 27-question application, sample itineraries, extensive phone interviews, and client references.

Peter Frank, editor-in-chief of Concierge.com, answers two commonly asked questions about travel specialists:

When do I need to use a specialist travel agent?
— complicated customized itineraries.
— four- or five-star hotel stays.
— first- and business-class airline tickets.
— English-speaking guides.
— special access to monuments, sights, or people.
— cruises, especially with private shore excursions.
— a special occasion

How do I work with a travel specialist?

Find the right fit: Consider personal rapport, in addition to expertise and cost, when deciding which consultant to use.

Don’t be phone shy: A travel consultant is making personal decisions on your behalf (the type of hotel you’ll stay in, the sights to see or skip). An initial phone conversation is essential for the consultant to understand your personality and needs; further correspondence can often be done by e-mail. Never delegate trip-planning to an assistant.

Offer ample background: You will likely be peppered with questions about your past trips, your expectations for this one, your hobbies, your physical condition, and your travel companions, among other things.

Establish a budget: Have an idea of how much you want to spend, which you can estimate by doing some background research. Even if your budget is tight, a good consultant can often be able to stretch your dollars.

Expect a fee: You will likely pay either a fixed amount (typically from $100 to $500) or a markup (about 10 to 15 percent) that is built into the total trip cost. Sometimes the up-front service fee will be applied to the cost of the trip if you end up booking it. Travel agents who book cruises and tour operator packages often do not charge service fees since they make sizeable commissions on the sale. You should not pay a fee for a trip that has not been customized for you, nor should you pay before the consultant has persuaded you that the value he or she can bring to the trip planning is worth the extra expense.

Plan ahead: Contact a consultant as far in advance of your trip as possible and be prompt in offering feedback and requesting any adjustments to the proposed itinerary, whether it be a flight time, an excursion, or a hotel.

Be proactive: Consultants will replace a so-so guide with someone that’s more compatible, switch you to a different hotel, or change the pacing of your trip by tweaking the activities. Your travel planner will be far happier to solve a problem midtrip than to first hear about it when you come home dissatisfied.

Value the relationship: Treat your consultant not as hired help but as an expert. The consultants on our list receive dozens of queries every week. Extra effort on your part during the trip-planning process — such as a thank- you note or a phone call — will make you stand out form the hundreds of clients these consultants work with each year.

To use the Travel Agent Finder visit http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/travelagentfinder

Concierge.com

The new Concierge.com, the online destination for inspired travel, incorporates original, interactive features on every aspect of travel; highlights from Conde Nast Traveler, re-engineered for optimum online browsing; almost 200 original, in-depth, insider guides to top destinations around the world; a “destination finder” that lets readers narrow down the perfect place for any trip; almost 10,000 photographs of hotels, destinations, landmarks, and more; a suite of interactive tools to help readers make smart travel plans; a range of travel deals targeted to specific destinations; and a powerful search function to aid navigation.

CondeNet

CondeNet is the leading creator and developer of upscale lifestyle brands online, providing enjoyable, useful services that build upon the heritage of the world’s most prestigious magazines. The company publishes significant online properties in the categories of food (Epicurious.com), travel (Concierge.com), and fashion (STYLE.COM and MEN.STYLE.COM); these titles have won numerous accolades from bodies including the American Society of Magazine Editors, the James Beard Foundation, Media Industry Newsletter, and the Webby Awards. Based in New York, CondeNet is owned by Conde Nast, a privately held media company.

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