As a travel writer it has been an eye opener going on Fam trips with travel agents. On the first trip I went with a group the first thing I noticed is how well they get treated by facility operators. Journalists are usually treated well as no one wants to get on the wrong side of the press – who wants to look bad in print? Travel agents are even more well cared for.
What I learned next is that the travel agents are far more discerning when it comes to inspecting a hotel or a resort. Why? If they recommend a place to a client and the client isn’t happy about it, the travel agent is going to hear about. Loud and abusive. It could mean a loss of business.
If a travel writer writes something that doesn’t hit the mark they are not likely to hear about it.
“It is all your fault,” one travel agent told me. “You take beautiful pictures of places and write glowing words and people get high expectations and when they go to the place it doesn’t live up to what they thought it was going to be. That’s what makes our job so difficult.”
She didn’t mean me specifically, but that is what we do. We give you the words and images that make you want to buy a ticket to anywhere.
On one trip I went on the travel agents had a meeting with the local industry and I was not invited. They were going to have an honest session about their impressions of their experiences through the three days we were in the region. I am sure it was a give-and-take session with all points of views being expressed.
Are these conversations that should find their way into print?
I enjoy writing about a place and making it sound exotic and romantic and the best place to visit but at the same time I always keep in mind that I am writing for people who have earned their vacation and they want to spend their time and money in a way that is meaningful and relaxing for them.
Travel Agents have very specific obligations that they adhere to, but they also have their own way of thinking.
In a casual conversation with two travel agents the topic turned to ghosts. They told me about a hotel they had stayed in that was fine in every way except that it had ghosts. “We have stopped recommending that hotel,” I was told, “because it is haunted.”
As a journalist, I would have taken a different approach and mentioned that there are ghosts at that hotel. Some people would find that an amenity that they usually don’t get in a five star hotel.