The ability to research, plan, and book your own vacation sounds good on paper.
But sifting through endless Google results and wading through countless reviews (don’t even get us started on the reliability of these) takes valuable time and energy. Plus, the Internet is not the most reliable source.
There are plenty of things you simply can’t find out online, and who wants to roll the dice and risk money and vacation time on a blind booking?
If you still think the Internet is the way to go, here are 13 things online travel sites won’t tell you (and your travel advisor will!).
1. What To Do When Things Go Bump
Sometimes things go bump that are out of your control when you travel. Your flight is delayed, your luggage is lost, you miss your train, you have a forced overnight — you name it, it can happen (and it can all happen in the span of 24 hours). Time is one of our most valuable assets, and you don’t want to waste precious hours of your vacation on the phone with the online booking website, airline, and hotel trying to find answers. And don’t even think about the international calling fees – oh my!
When you book with an Brownell advisor, we can tell you what to do — and often that is to relax and have a glass of wine (from the complimentary bottle sent to your room) while we get this settled on your behalf.
2. Exactly Which Room You’ll Get
You can request a king or connecting rooms or a view of the beach. But it’s just a request. You could end up with twins overlooking the parking lot, especially if you book a cheap, cheap rate. Meanwhile, our travel advisors invest much of their time traveling to properties and understanding the differences between room categories. They use that knowledge to help you decide which room is best for you and then work with our on-property contact to ensure you get that exact room type.
3. The Hotel Area
Sure the neighborhood looks great. It’s in a hip area close to restaurants and shops, but did you know it’s next door to a discotheque? Those clubs in Spain go strong into the wee morning hours. And that hip neighborhood that seemed really cool online is actually where all the college kids and post-grads hang out. Not exactly where you want your 13- and 15-year-old hanging out.
4. What Your View Is
“A great view” doesn’t have a clear definition, and the Internet doesn’t tell you what that view will be. It could be a great view of the beach — or of the parking lot with a glimpse of ocean if you lean over the balcony and crane your neck. Do you want to take that gamble?
5. Who Else Will Be There
That fabulous resort in Key West looks like the perfect spot for a family spring break…and 300 college kids within an 8-hour driving radius agree with you! The peaceful nights you imagined by the pool are replaced by cries of “Tequila!” from the bar.
6. Online Prices Aren’t Necessarily the Cheapest
There might have been a time when the rock bottom prices online were actually the the cheapest (and you also got what you paid for). Now our hotel partners are one the wiser and will often match whatever you find online or explain why it is so cheap. So your travel advisor can get you the same price PLUS add valuable benefits and amenities that can seriously add up.
7. Whether Your Money Is Safe
Sometimes that #1 villa on that Caribbean island at a rock bottom price is too good to be true. And sending a $4000 wire transfer can be a costly error. A client once fell for that scenario and ended up the creek without a villa! We make sure your money is safe and secure, especially when you’re making online transactions.
8. How Clean Your Rental Apartment Will Be
Renting an apartment or villa is a great way to feel like you’re in a home away from home in a new destination. But online websites don’t necessarily include all the information. One Advisor had a client book an apartment in Europe and arrived to find it filthy. With no one to call, the client turned to the Advisor who quickly secured a clean, trusted hotel.
Our Brownell Advisors can find villas, apartments, and homes that have been vetted by our trusted partners. We will know whether there is a fence around the pool (imagine having toddlers steps away from a pool), air conditioning, when the maid service comes, and more.
9. The Cancellation Policy
So they will give you the cancellation policy — it will just be paragraphs of small print. Your travel advisor can help you understand the restrictions with each booking and help you get travel insurance as well.
10. The Location
Believe it or not, some websites don’t actually tell you the hotel name until after you’ve paid in full (and it’s more than likely non-refundable). It might be located only a mile from the downtown area, but you can’t exactly walk across the interstate. And speaking of that, who wants to listen to interstate traffic all night either?
11. Current Status
Online booking agents don’t have the most up-to-date information about a property and its surroundings. The hotel bar or swimming pool may be undergoing renovations but the booking engine doesn’t tell you that. Or you may luck out with a fabulous hotel, but there is a high rise going up next door. A 6 AM jackhammer wake-up is no way to start your day on vacation. Or ever.
12. How to Get Home
Flights get cancelled and delayed more often than we like, and it’s simply become a part of traveling. Even the most roll-with-the-punches traveler can end up in a difficult situation if a leg of their trip is cancelled or they miss a flight due to delays. Try as you may to get through on the 1-800 number, the Internet is not good at helping quickly and efficiently when you’re in a pinch. A travel advisor has a 24/7 dedicated air phone number that can get you on the next flight ASAP.
13. Special Amenities and Upgrades are Not Likely to Happen
If you’re looking for an upgrade or special treatment but you nabbed the rock-bottom price during an online flash-sale, you’re just another customer who booked the lowest rate. And in a sold out situation, you’re the first to be moved to a different property.
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