Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

5 Things a WOW Travel Agent Does that You Can’t Do for Yourself

by Brook Wilkinson | June 24, 2016

It’s easy to book flights, hotels, and tours online. What’s not easy—usually not even possible—is to make the magic happen the way a WOW trip designer can.  You already know how the right travel fixers transform a trip from average to extraordinary. But how exactly do they do it?

Take Nina Wennersten as an example. As one of our recommended Trusted Travel Experts for African safaris, she crafts itineraries that take into account every detail that could affect your trip. I’ve spent time on the road with Nina, so I can tell you how she operates in the field and how you benefit from that. She will:

Prevent you from making the mistakes everybody else makes.

A Trusted Travel Expert’s goal is not to sell you a trip; it’s to make sure you have the best possible experience of the destination. If you tell Nina that you’re set on a certain country but can only travel during its hottest time of year there, she’ll urge you to postpone the trip; she’s more interested in earning your trust than her commission, knowing that you’ll come back to book with her when the time is right. If you tell her that you want a mobile tented camp, but she senses you’re more interested in the romance of the idea than the reality (no flush toilets, carnivores just outside your canvas shelter), she’ll advise against it.

Minimize the drawbacks you’ll encounter at the destination. 

A Trusted Travel Expert has already road-tested your itinerary, stayed in your hotel, and helped train your guide. Nina has been to Africa well over 100 times, visiting three to four times each and every year. That’s how she knows at which safari camps you will see the most game at the time of year you’re traveling, which lodges have the most reliable Wi-Fi for travelers who need to stay in touch with the office, and which airline has the most comfortable lie-flat business-class seats.

Introduce you to helpful and fascinating locals. 

Trusted Travel Experts have friends in high places. Their relationships with many of the people whom you will meet along your chosen route mean that those people will welcome you as a friend of a friend, rather than as just another customer. Nina knows that the people in positions of power aren’t the only ones who can make or break your trip, so she makes a point of befriending not just the managers of safari camps and lodges, but the waiters, shop owners, and museum curators too.

Ensure your hotel treats you like a V.I.P.

Trusted Travel Experts are not just detail-oriented, they are detail-obsessed. The more they know about you and your likes and dislikes, the more information they can pass on to your hotels, so that the hotels can personalize your stay and deliver special treatment. By the time you’ve set off on your trip, Nina has advised each lodge about your dietary preferences, special occasions you’ll be celebrating, the type of wine you like to drink, and any other small details she’s gleaned from your conversations; if you have poor hearing, she’ll even make sure that you’re always seated closest to the guide.

Monitor and safeguard every day of your trip. 

Once you start your trip, a Trusted Travel Expert’s job is far from over. A TTE monitors your trip every day, stepping in to make last-minute tweaks as circumstances warrant. Even when Nina is on a safari herself, inside the Ngorongoro Crater, she’ll be constantly checking her phone for updates about her travelers; for example, she might reschedule lunch plans for a group who’s just endured a bumpy flight and needs some time to relax before setting off on an overland journey.

The next time you’re planning a trip and you wish you had a Nina, check The WOW List to find the right trip designer for your destination.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

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