This months Expert Edge is provided by Michael Pagliocca, owner of Elite Travel Planners, which was founded in 2004 here in Clayton. Michael started his expert edge by noting that travel has undoubtedly changed with COVID-19, but he adds "Vaccines have begun, and travel is booming for the second half of 2021 and 2022. We suggest planning your vacation now to take advantage of the many land/cruise offers available." In this article, Michael details many of his best tips and tricks for traveling:
Why use a travel planner? Simply put, we look out for your best interest. Did you know that the average person spends 70+ actual hours online researching, planning, deciding between too many options, without real knowledge of the resort or destination? We do that research for our clients. When planning travel, clarity around what you want or don’t want from a property/experience, is crucial.
Here’s a tip for what we look for when booking a hotel/resort or cruise ship:
Value - Is this a great experience at a reasonable price? Do they add complimentary amenities (breakfast/transfers)? What are the hidden costs (resort fees)? Where is the room? What’s the view like (water or roof overlooking a parking lot)?
Location - Is the area safe? Walking distance to the sights? How close is local transportation, the beach, sights/excursions, etc…
Quality - How great is the food? Overall cleanliness and condition of the property/cruise ship? When was it renovated last? What’s the condition of the furniture, pool areas, are the beaches maintained daily? What type of personal services are offered? What are the room amenities?
Service - Is there a concierge? Are your needs met promptly? Will the size of the resort/cruise ship take away from personalized service, and overall experience? For families, are there kids clubs? Is it coloring in a room supervised, or is it taking them onto the beach looking for turtle eggs? Are there experiences built into the programs?
Overall Experience - Is this an immersive experience, or a laid back resort/cruise vacation? Is there construction next door? When looking at a cruise ship deck plan, what aren’t you seeing? Are there obstructions to the view, does that super cheap rate mean bunk beds, and does it include port charges/taxes? Is the room on a busy deck with lots of traffic day/night.
Elite Travel Planners has decades of travel planning experience with cruises, all-inclusive resorts, custom itineraries, and groups. We stay at, inspect many properties and sail on a variety of ships. We get to know the staff and managers, which helps us to best serve our clients needs.
The travel industry has changed policies allowing cancellations with either refunds or future travel certificates, no change fees, and additional reservation options to protect your travel investment. Michael adds "We are your local personal travel planners, real people vs a .com site. We work to curate an experience for you, not just a vacation. We want you to live your list, not just leave it in a bucket. We save you money, and valuable time. This is what we do. We are experts in travel. Use that time to do what YOU do best, make more money, or spend time with your friends and family. Hopefully not on zoom for much longer!"