In addition to being honored to be one of Wendy Perrin’s 135 Top Travel Specialists for 2010, we’re a big fan of the related spread in Conde Nast Traveler‘s August 2010 print issue.Perrin not only describes each selected travel agent, but also provides guidance on how to use the interactive listing on the CNT website, and features sport-and-adventure-themed agent recommendations.Our favorite feature is her 6 Travel Agent Tips – found exclusively in print – which empower travelers to craft the perfect trip with their specialist. Smart and useful, these hints can be applied anywhere in the world. So, we’re showing you how to use them to create a memorable journey in China.
Perrin says: Define trip goals: “The better you are at articulating your needs, the better the travel specialist can meet them.”
We say: Perrin is right on the mark with this first tip. There are many angles from which to experience China, so it is important to know where your preferences and priorities lie. Ask yourself what kind of trip you want to create. To jumpstart your thinking process, here are a few key words to consider: luxury, adventure, local, modern, traditional, cuisine, monument, history, hands-on, expert.
Perrin says: Get personal: “The more information you share, the more potentially spectacular the results.”
We say: Information = customization, and customization = the trip of a lifetime tailored specifically to you. Do you love birds? Try our Winter Birding trip. Are you a self-professed gourmet? We’ll expose you to China’s many local cuisines and flavors. Can’t live without your morning cup of joe? Maybe a trip to get a taste of Yunnan‘s locally-produced coffee is in order. Travel specialists can use your personal interests and preferences to make the trip all the more special.
Perrin says: Be a collaborator: “The best trips spring from a team effort between you and the specialist.”
We say: The relationship between traveler and specialist is incredibly important, to develop mutual understanding and ultimately, an unforgettable journey. We like frequent email communication and phone conversations to build the rapport. These interactions not only give us facts for trip-planning, but help us to understand how the client thinks and interacts. We adapt to their style so that they can trust us – and from trust springs successful collaboration.
Perrin says: Establish a budget: “State up front how much you want to spend.”
We say: This is particularly important with customized travel. China can be explored at all levels, so it’s important to gauge how specialized and unique you want your trip to be. You might want to visit a remote village in Yunnan, but skip on the private visit with the local shaman. Alternately, maybe it’s important to you to try the very best roast duck in Beijing. Whatever your spending preferences, make them known early.
Perrin says: Expect to pay a fee: “A travel specialist’s fee is either a deposit applied to the cost of the trip… or a markup built into the total cost.”
We say: At WildChina, creating customized trips that are perfectly suited to our clients’ interests and needs is of utmost importance. As such, we do not require a fee for your initial consultation. When a client is ready to confirm the trip, we ask for a deposit.
Perrin says: Guide the guide: “It’s your job to communicate your interest directly to the guide.”
We say: We take guide training very seriously, making sure that our guides’ English level, local knowledge, problem-solving skills and flexibility are all up to snuff. They know to observe and adapt to clients’ needs and wants, but you should also never hesitate to let them know what you want. If you prefer your guide to discuss architecture instead of history, describe personal anecdotes on life in China, or just let you roam in peace, let them know.
Photo credit: Titanic Awards