Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

How to Get an Extraordinary Trip That’s a Great Value: FAQs

Wendy Perrin | September 14, 2014

Wendy answers your Frequently Asked Questions about how to collaborate with a Trusted Travel Expert to get the best possible trip.

1. The Trusted Travel Expert wants to schedule a phone appointment to discuss my trip. Is that necessary?
Yes. The Trusted Travel Expert (TTE)’s job is to design a trip tailored to your needs and interests, which means you need to be specific, thorough, and honest about what those needs and interests are. The TTE has a lot of important questions to ask and will glean much more telling answers in a live conversation than via email. The design of your trip is a collaboration, and what you get out of that collaboration is directly related to what you put into it and the care you take in articulating your trip goals and answering the TTE’s questions thoroughly.

2. Can I delegate that phone conversation to someone else—like my assistant?
No. That would be like sending your secretary to be fitted for your custom-tailored suit. The phone conversation allows you to hammer out your trip preferences, dislikes, and goals in depth. After the phone call, if you think the TTE does not “get” you, call it quits. If there isn’t a good rapport over the phone, that’s a signal that you need to ask me to connect you with a different TTE. (Email me at questions@wendyperrin.com.)

3. Does it cost more to use a Trusted Travel Expert than if I book the trip on my own?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the destination and type of trip. TTEs can save you money via reduced rates that they negotiate with hotels and other travel suppliers at their destinations. They negotiate special benefits and amenities too (e.g., early check-in, upgrades, complimentary meals). At the same time, their arrangements can cost more because they employ the best local private guides whom they have personally vetted, they use the newest cars and safest drivers who know all the shortcuts, they pay to eliminate time-consuming hassles such as lines and crowds, etc. Their trips include special touches and perks that you would not be able to procure on your own—and most of these special touches you won’t know about, or appreciate the value of, until you’re actually taking the trip. Their prices also include the local infrastructure to be able to come to the rescue in an emergency. So, typically, you’ll pay more than if you booked on your own, but you’ll end up with a  more rewarding trip in the end. If a TTE doesn’t convince you that the value he or she will add to your particular trip will be worth the higher cost, don’t book through that TTE. Feel free to reach out to me and I can suggest someone else: questions@wendyperrin.com.

4. Do Trusted Travel Experts charge trip-planning fees?
Some do, some don’t. It depends on the type of trip, the destination, and how much work and time are required. If the trip is a cruise, a group tour, or a five-star resort stay with no customized components, usually the travel supplier pays a large enough commission, and not much work is required on the TTE’s part, so there is no fee. If the trip is a custom-tailored itinerary, usually there is a fee. Ask the TTE to explain what his/her fee is and everything you are getting for that fee.

5. Is the fee a deposit toward the cost of the trip, or is it an additional charge?
Sometimes it’s a deposit—this protects the Trusted Travel Expert in case he/she does a ton of work on your behalf and then you cancel—and sometimes it’s an additional charge. Often the fee takes the form of a mark-up that’s incorporated into the total trip price you’re quoted. In such cases, you may be quoted a lump-sum price for your itinerary, with no breakdown of the prices for its different components. This lack of transparency, which is standard practice in the luxury travel-planning world, can be frustrating for prospective travelers. But the fact is that the local hotels and travel suppliers that provide the Trusted Travel Experts with exclusive reduced rates do so on the condition that the TTEs not reveal those rates. If you can’t live with not seeing costs itemized, be sure to inform the TTE of this before paying any deposit.

6. What’s in the price that the Trusted Travel Expert will quote you?
The TTE’s price almost always includes more than just accommodations. (It’s easy to book hotels on your own, after all—although, unless you’re using an expensive credit card with serious hotel benefits, you won’t get the same preferred treatment.)  The price quoted by the TTE will likely include private and exclusive travel experiences that may cost more than generic sightseeing tours.  So, when coming up with your estimated daily budget for a trip, don’t factor in only the price of accommodations.

7. If I find a lower price on the Internet than the price a Trusted Travel Expert has quoted me, what should I do?
You should let the TTE know and request an explanation as to why his/her price is higher. Often, if it’s a hotel, the TTE’s price will include extras (e.g., taxes, service fees, daily breakfast, early check-in, an upgrade) that are not included in the price you see on the Internet. If it’s an activity or excursion, the experience that the TTE is recommending is probably not the same experience that you’re finding on the Internet. And remember that Internet rates often come with surprise charges. So be sure you’re comparing apples with apples.

8. Is there a benefit to me to connect with the Trusted Travel Expert via WendyPerrin.com?
Yes. First, the Trusted Travel Expert will mark you as a V.I.P. traveler, which means that, when and where possible, you’ll get special benefits and priority treatment. Second, your trip gets entered into the WendyPerrin.com trip-monitoring service.

9. What’s the WendyPerrin.com trip-monitoring service?
I’ll automatically watch over the planning of your trip, and you can reach out to me should any issues crop up. We will keep tabs on your experience to make sure that the TTE lives up to his/her pledge and upholds the values that got him/her onto The WOW List in the first place. Wendy will send you advice (via email) during your trip-planning process; when you return, she’ll invite you to post a review of your experience. The goal is to make sure you’re getting everything you need from the Trusted Travel Expert; Wendy wants to ensure they’re living up to her standards. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose.

Thank you for reading all the way to the end!  Now return to your trip-request form and check the checkbox saying that you’ve read Wendy’s Crucial Advice and FAQs. Then hit the SUBMIT button that pops up, and you’ll be on your way to an extraordinary trip!

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6 Comments

  1. leg822@gmail.com

    I always enjoyed reading your column in Conde Nast and always felt confident in the information you shared. I’m so glad I can use your expertise on future travel.

  2. Connie Streitz

    So excited to find your site. Followed your articles, suggestions of tour guides etc. from Conde Nast Traveler

  3. Doug Havely

    We have utilized Earl Starkey for a trip to Turkey, Donna Thomas for a trip to New Zealand and Wanda Radetti for aCroatia/Slovenia trip. All of them did an outstanding job planning extraordinary trips. They were easy to work with and absolutely brought a lot of value. Earl even stopped by a hotel we were staying at in Bodrum to say hello as he was on a business trip. This was totally unexpected but was a nice touch.

  4. Janet Sacks

    Thanks so much for all this information. My sister and husband have booked trips through you and IC Bellagio 4 times now.

  5. Armando D. Guerra

    Thank you! I appreciate the FAQ’s. Being that it’s my wife’s 50th birthday and we have some “picky” travelers. I want her trip to be “perfect”.
    Thanks.

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