Great family vacations don't just happen. For good family vacations to become great vacations, it take planning and extra insight. You need to look past the obvious.
This morning I was on the phone helping a client named Chrissy. We were reviewing a couple of her resort choices over the phone when she made this light hearted comment..."OMG, I've looked at so many of your resort review pages! Just about every page has a photo of you or one of your agents on it. You guys must really like having your pictures taken! Personally I'd like to see more pictures around the resort".
There is a saying that "a picture is worth 100 words" but perhaps our reasons for posting photos of ourselves is getting lost in translation. It seems a bit of explanation is due. In reality, all of us here at Vacationkids are far happier behind the camera than standing in front of it. We have learned to swallow our pride (or wear a hat), on crazy, bad hair days in the tropics and just to smile for the camera. We would prefer to stay invisible and not have our photos posted on line but there is a very important reason why we do this.
We humbly believe that it is our first hand experience that enables us to answer our client's questions accurately and truthfully. Family vacation time is precious. Our parents work hard to enjoy some R&R with their kids and they want everything to be perfect. This is why we document our travels and post our photos on our webpages. It's our proof to our clients that we've been there, we've done that and we know what we're talking about.
When travel agents visit a destination or resort to check it out, we call it a "fam trip". This industry lingo is short for a familiarization trip. Normally before one of these adventures we do our homework so that we're prepared to learn and so that we arrive ready with questions. Often we will participate in hotelier webinars prior our trip. We'll speak to industry colleagues and review hotel fact sheets to prepare for our trip.
I cannot tell you how many times our staff has arrived onto a property and were totally surprised how different a family resort was in person compared to how it was presented in webinars, press releases or brochures. By surprised, it goes both ways...some times we are pleasantly surprised and there have been some times when we have been sorely disappointed.
Every resort and destination has it's very own personality...again this can be for good or bad. For example, many folks are under the impression that Cancun is a college spring break town. Maybe they visited during their spring break dozens of years ago or they saw some reality TV program. This may have been the situation in the past but now just about every Cancun resort has rules in place and do not allow spring breakers. This destination has evolved from a spring break spot to an upscale family friendly destination. Still many travel agents who haven't left their office and visited are still operating under false impressions.
Many hotels chains are built around a formula. Travel agents who have been in the business for a while have the attitude that, if you've seen one hotel from a particular chain, you've seen them all. Yes, you can anticipate that perhaps chain resort restaurants may all share the same name or menu, operation rules may have the same standards or room decor will have a certain style. Without an in-person visit, you cannot determine how the food actually tastes, how clean the property is or a long list of other features that are often very important to parents vacationing with their children.
In addition, you may also notice photos of us with resort staff. During our fam trips, we are not just reviewing hotels. We make these fam trips so that we meet and build relationships with resort staff. These contacts are usually the first to share local news with us. If there is a new feature or service, they help to keep us informed of the latest news. If our clients have a particular question or request, we know exactly who to contact in resort to get quick attention. This is why we go the distance for our clients.
We love client feedback. So in th future Chrissy, we'll do our best to add more resort pictures for you. For the rest of you out there, please know a travel agent with first hand experience can save you time, money and hassles making your family vacations into great family vacations.