Vacations are meant to be a break, a time of rest and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the real world. But when it comes to planning a trip, that break can easily turn into its own stressor, weighing on your mind and wasting your time. Depending on your destination, the coordination of all the moving parties involved in planning a trip – hotels, transport, routes, tours, etc. – can be a huge problem. This is where travel agents like Jim Anastos come in.
Anastos is an agent at Trips with George, one of Atlanta’s oldest gay businesses with over 25 years in business. Anastos is an expert in LGBTQ travel, with 50 countries, over 20 gay cruises and countless cities under his belt.
The big question is: why use a travel agency when you can plan your own trip for free? If you’re passionate about planning, an expert on your destination, and have enough time and money to spend, go for it! But if you’re not – and, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t – a travel agent makes travel more convenient, simple and profitable, with expertise to make your trip a memorable one. .
Agents like Anastos transform what can be up to 10 different vendor touchpoints into one, streamlining the scheduling process and making it easier for the customer.
“If you’re booking, say, a long trip in Europe, you’re going to be dealing with at least three – and maybe as many as six or seven – different providers: you’re going to go to an airline, a hotel, you’re going to you deal with airport transfers and then you’re going to deal with tour operators, car rentals, insurance policies,” he said. “When you add it up, there can be up to ten different providers With me, you benefit from a single point of contact. You receive a phone call, an e-mail and everything is done for you. The time savings are incredible.
Due to their exclusive access to never-before-seen discounts from hotel chains and airlines, travel agents can also save travelers money.
“As an agent, I can create a package for you and I can give you a total price that includes airfare, hotels, transfers, and maybe even your tours,” Anastos said. “Actually, you don’t see a breakdown of how much of that [package price] is the plane ticket. This is the intention; they don’t want you to see it because they are discounting. If they post this [publicly], now they have problems with their regular customers and people are going to say, “Well, how come I can’t get this rate?” Sometimes it can save thousands of people; I saved a client $14,000 on first class airfare to South Africa.
There is also the obvious advantage of experience; chances are your agent has been to your destination and therefore has tips on places to go (and avoid), suggestions for fun things to do, and helpful tips for getting around.
When hiring an LGBTQ-focused travel agent, this expertise is even more valuable for LGBTQ clients. An agent like Anastos can offer information on the safety and comfort that LGBTQ people can expect in the city, country or even resort where they are staying, and they have helpful information on navigating to their destination and the looking for like-minded people.
Anastos offered the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico location as an example of how his expertise helps LGBTQ clients.
“Most people, when they go online and look at hotels, there’s this big, beautiful hotel resort area,” he said. “That’s usually where people go to choose [to stay]. Well, it’s like coming to Atlanta and booking a hotel near the airport. Who wants to stay there? Nobody. But people don’t realize by looking at websites where they are going to be. Gay travelers really need to stay in the Zona Romantica. It’s like staying in Midtown Atlanta.
As for his favorite destinations, Anastos never misses a summer in Provincetown and a winter in Puerto Vallarta and says Mediterranean cruises, especially to the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, are the best. Other cities he loves include Sydney, Istanbul, Cairo and Barcelona.
Anastos concluded by saying that traveling the world has the ability to change mindsets about the LGBTQ community, quoting author Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. , and many of our people badly need it on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, and charitable views…cannot be acquired by vegetating in a small corner of the earth all one’s life.
To learn more about Trips with George, visit travelwithgeorge.com.