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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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 at Ask Wendy, and I can try to suggest someone else.
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 get 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 me?
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 this 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. If I have already booked most of my trip, should I contact a Trusted Travel Expert for just a few small components?
No. If you’ve already booked all your hotels, for example, and all you need is a guide for two days, it will not make financial sense for you to contact a Trusted Travel Expert. Every excellent travel specialist’s business model is based on complete trips, typically of five days or longer, embellished with all the special touches and insider experiences (based on superlative on-the-ground connections) that sophisticated travelers appreciate. The fewer and smaller the trip components you ask for (e.g., a tour guide or private car for a day), the more the TTE will need to charge for each component, and the less value for money you will receive overall. By contrast, the more of your trip a TTE designs and books, the more he/she can save you wasted time, money, and pitfalls at your destination, get you special treatment, and be your advocate in case of unforeseen circumstances. (An exception to these rules is Paul Bennett, who arranges only guided tours in select cities, and Jennifer Virgilio, who can arrange such small components in Paris, London, and Rome.)
9. 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-support service. Additional benefits are explained here: How To Get The Best Trip Possible.
10. What’s the WendyPerrin.com trip-support 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!