Often when people ask what we do and we say, “We own a travel agency,” it is not uncommon for the next words out of their mouth to be, “Do people still use travel agents?” The answer is, “Yes! Or at least the people who want to save time, money, hassle & have a great experience do.” The truth is, travel is more accessible, and therefore more complicated, than ever. Travel agents are your own personalized search engine who can give you the best & most relevant information to make your dream vacation a reality. Still not convinced to allow someone else to shoulder the stress of planning your vacation? Read on! Here are our top five reasons you should use a travel agent.
There is no substitute for a human with experience.
Imagine traveling to a new place. You’re not familiar with the culture, the food, or how transportation works. Or maybe you’re been to that place, but it’s been a few years and you’re not sure what changes you’ll have to navigate. Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to someone who has “been there & done that?” That is what your travel agent is for!
In order to sell products, agents often have to go through significant training & most often, they also have the personal experience of traveling to those locations to back that training up. For example, at Woodbrey Family Travel, we specialize in planning Disney vacations (though we can and do book ANYTHING). But did you know that five out of six of our agents are either former or current Disney cast members? We have lived near & worked in the parks & you better believe we all make multiple trips each year. We make it our mission to stay up-to-date on what is happening so we can give you the BEST information possible.
Unlike the internet, travel agents care about the type of experience you have and are invested in your vacation. We WANT you to feel confident in your choices & to reduce the chance of unwanted surprises. We become your ONE point of contact & are happy to take care of any requests or adjustments you need to make. We will help you work through what you actually want & need while accurately rating hotels & experiences. We will give you the facts & information that is relevant. In a world where time is short & stress is high, let a travel agent save you both!
Our Services are FREE!
At this point maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, I can see the value of using an actual human. But what is that expertise going to cost me?” When you use Woodbrey Family Travel, the answer is NOTHING. No really, there’s no catch. The answer is NOTHING. So how and why?
The answer is simple. Our partners (Disney, Universal, Expedia, all major cruise lines, etc.) take care of us, so we can take care of you. It is a well-established fact within the travel industry that customers have a better experience when they work with a travel agent & they are more likely to return because they have a positive experience. Our partners believe in this so much, they are willing to cut into their own profits to pay us at no extra cost to you. Because they are willing to do that, we accept that as sufficient payment & do not charge you for our services. If you get all the benefits of working with an actual human & it doesn’t cost you anything, what are you waiting for?
We aren’t just trained, we’re “Authorized” too!
As previously mentioned, in order to sell various products, agents often go through training designed by our partners to help us become familiar with what they offer (plus, we travel A LOT). Once we complete these trainings, we are then “authorized” to sell the product on behalf of that organization (i.e. Disney, Universal, all major cruise lines, etc.).
However, sometimes an organization has even higher and more elite credentials. For example, the IATA & CLIA programs are industry certifications that have to be earned by an agency & renewed every year. Woodbrey Family Travel has its CLIA certification & we will continue to stay up-to-date on industry requirements to keep that credential.
Additionally, Disney also has a higher tier of agencies that only a few earn. Almost any travel agent can sell the product, but only a select few agencies are known as being “Earmarked” with Disney. Woodbrey Family Travel is one of those agencies and we are proud to be able to say we are officially “Authorized Disney Vacation Planners.” Why does that matter to you? If one of the world’s most successful & admired companies designates another company to represent them to their guests, it’s for a reason. Where Disney doesn’t have the ability to remember you as an individual, we do! Where they will not provide you with a personalized itinerary to navigate the parks, we will! We have the time to pay attention to you & we’re good enough at it, Disney has given us their stamp of approval.
From a monetary standpoint as well, the organizations we are partnered with send us daily updates on their products & promotions so we can get you the best deals out there. If you book through us & later on a promotion that is relevant to you comes up, we will know about it & can make the necessary changes to your reservation to save you money! When you book online, it is very rare that you’ll be made aware of new promotions & will be able to change it. Most of the time, whatever you pay, sticks. With a travel agent, you can be confident we will do our best to take care of you.
Avoid Costly Scams
Have you received a questionable email or text lately? Maybe a strange pop-up opened when you went to a certain website. In this day and age, sometimes it seems like there are more scams out there than legitimate enterprises. Unfortunately, the travel industry is not immune. In an effort to save a few bucks, many travelers will try to find the cheapest options out there. They will scour the internet looking for any sort of deal, and often, they don’t do adequate research on the companies they are using. We have seen situations where sometimes the organizations offering tickets or hotels for super cheap will take your money & not deliver the products, or maybe you show up to the hotel & instead of the four-star resort with the spectacular pictures you saw on their site, it’s a two-star motel and now you’re stuck. Even the legitimate sites that offer “discounts” often don’t give you the full price upfront.
For example, I had a guest who was buying Disney World tickets for her family. She said my price (which came directly from Disney) was $500 more than what she could get online with a third-party seller. I cautioned her to make sure the tickets were the right type (child vs. adult tickets) and that taxes were included. Turns out, even though she has four “kids,” some of them were over the age of 10, and are thus, considered “adults” when it comes to park tickets. The third-party website was trying to sell her child tickets instead of the necessary adult tickets and sure enough, the taxes were not included. Can you imagine the hassle she would have experienced if she got to the parks & at the gate they said, “I’m sorry, this is a child ticket and your teenager is obviously not a child?” Because she bought through a third-party “discount” seller, now she’s out the money for the ticket she bought from them, plus the price of a new appropriate adult ticket at the gate.
There are MANY third-party sellers out there who will buy tickets/hotel rooms in bulk & sell them for “cheaper” than what you can get through the company or their authorized travel agents directly. BEWARE of these providers. The best deal you will find will be through the organization you’re visiting directly. You can feel confident when you use an authorized travel agent that you will get what you pay for with no hidden fees or questionable products. How much is peace of mind worth? Remember cost & value are NOT the same thing. I can guarantee the value you receive from a travel agent will be greater than the few dollars you save buying through questionable websites.
You will be supporting a small business.
In a world where the “little guy” often gets lost in the shuffle, it’s more important than ever to frequent small businesses. When you use a travel agent, you not only get the vacation of your dreams with less stress, you are also supporting the livelihood of individuals you personally know. We work hard for no guarantee of your business, we will find the right answers to your questions, and we add value that can’t be quantified. We will appreciate your business in a way a faceless search engine cannot & we would love the opportunity to prove it to you! Please think small & use a travel agent the next time you’re booking a trip!
Well, there you have it! Our top five reasons to use a travel agent. We hope you can see the value we provide & will seriously consider using us for your next vacation. To request a quote with Woodbrey Family Travel, visit our website: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php. We look forward to working with you!
Imagine this: You spend all night on a flight between New York City and Bergen, Norway. You finally arrive, gather your luggage, and exit the terminal. Right at the exit, there is someone waiting for you with a big Adventures by Disney sign. You approach him, and he greets you with a big smile. He quickly calls over a driver who takes your luggage for you and whisks you away to your hotel in a private vehicle. You get to the hotel and there to greet you, are two Adventure Guides with a big welcome packet full of goodies. Your luggage is taken to your room and you don’t have to handle it again until you return to the airport to go home. What happens between arrival and departure is magical, and it’s due in large part to the Adventure Guides.
Adventures by Disney can take you to nearly every corner of the world, but there is one thing that is the same on every trip: Disney’s famous customer service. On an Adventures by Disney trip, this comes in the form of two highly trained “Adventure Guides.” Not only will your Adventure Guides take care of EVERY detail, they will also ensure you’re immersed in the culture and traditions of whatever area you choose to visit.
In this installment of Travel Advice by Cody, you will learn why the Adventure Guides are the best part of an Adventures by Disney vacation.
#1: You get TWO Adventure Guides and one is a LOCAL!
It is fairly uncommon in a group travel setting to have two tour guides, and it made a world of difference. Depending on which Adventure you choose, the number of people allowed on the trip will vary, but will never be more than 40. Having a ratio of 20 guests to 1 guide, is almost unheard of.
When my wife and I traveled with Adventures by Disney to Norway, our two Adventure Guides were named Kira and Torgeir (pronounced Tour-Guy). Kira was from the United States and had been a Walt Disney World cast member for several years. She had also been doing Adventures by Disney tours during the summer months for at least five years. She was a pro at handling anything and everything. Torgeir was from Norway. In fact, he was from one of the villages we traveled to during the week. He was a tourism major at a local university looking to gain some good experience during his summer break.
We LOVED having a local as one of our Adventure Guides. It made an incredible difference as we learned about the country and the culture. We went on our adventure with several other travel agents, writers, and a talk show host and crew, and let me tell you, Torgeir was asked everything imaginable. He knew almost everything, but if he didn’t know, he found out. It was also pretty special because as we adventured around Torgeir’s “hometown” we could see his farm on side of the fjord and his mother came out to wave at us one afternoon. It really made everything much more personal and authentic having a local as an Adventure Guide. As we understand it, if Adventures by Disney can, they will always have a local as one of the Adventure Guides.
Kira was no slouch either. She made sure all the details were taken care of. As a seasoned Adventure Guide, it felt like she could see things from a mile away. She took care of everything from providing the hand sanitizer “flavor of the day,” snacks on the bus, sticky buns from the local bakery, toilet money when there was a charge, etc., etc., etc. No kidding, she thought of everything. She even had Tinkerbell deliver a six pack of Diet Coke to someone’s door every morning when they mentioned in passing that they were sad they couldn’t find it in Norway. Somehow, “Tinkerbell” found it and had it waiting for him every morning. Service like that just can’t be beat.
#2: Your Adventure Guides take pictures and you get them for FREE!
Every family has that one person who spends the entire vacation behind a camera. On an Adventures by Disney trip, that will still likely be the case, but your Adventure Guides are there to help. Consequently, you will likely have more than a few pictures with the ENTIRE family.
On our trip to Norway, Kira and Torgeir each had their own waterproof digital camera and were constantly snapping pictures. This was particularly helpful during our water adventures when we didn’t want to take our personal camera. The best part though? On an Adventures by Disney trip, all pictures taken by the Adventure Guides are available after the trip free of charge.
Near the end of our trip, our Adventure Guides also printed out a few pictures for every family that were actually postcards so we could send them home if we chose. They also put together a slide show that we watched at our farewell dinner on the last night using the pictures they took.
Reason 3: Your Adventure Guides pay all the gratuities along the way
Before our trip to Norway, we received a booklet outlining everything about the trip including what to pack, expected weather conditions, a basic itinerary and tipping guidelines. We were told specifically not to tip drivers, bellmen, or excursion guides. This felt so uncomfortable at first! However, it became very obvious very fast that between the number of people our group interacted with, that it was a major convenience for us as travelers, not to have to tip everyone we came in contact with.
For example, on the mornings we would be transferring to another hotel, we would put our luggage out in the hall and it would “magically” get loaded on the bus. We stayed in four hotels, and never handled our own luggage and never tipped a single bellman.
We also went on at least one excursion each day, i.e. rafting, fjord safari, stave church tours, etc. We never had to worry about tipping those guides. We could just focus on enjoying what was around us and the amazing experience we were having.
That being said, it is suggested that you tip your Adventure Guides at the end of the trip. However, suggested amounts are outlined in the adventure booklet you will receive and it’s fairly straight forward. Besides that though, we did not have to worry about tipping anyone, and it was awesome.
Reason 4: The EXTRAS no one expects
Periodically throughout our trip, our Adventure Guides would pull out something unexpected. For instance, for every day of the trip, a special pin exclusive to that particular Adventure by Disney vacation is given to the guests. The Adventure Guides would typically give them to one of our excursion guides to give to us as the perfect moment during the day.
At least one night during the trip, the Adventure Guides take the junior adventurers (your kids) to have a party of their own. What?! A night to yourselves on a family vacation?! That’s just plain awesome. Not to mention, what the kids get to do is pretty fun. On our trip, they made all sorts of American food (a refreshing sight after eating nothing but local cuisine), did karaoke, troll making, and other fun games and activities. Your kids won’t miss you while you take some time to yourself and it’s all thanks to the Adventure Guides.
On our adventure, we spent a fair amount of time traveling on the nicest motor coach Norway had to offer. It had Wi-Fi, plugs for electronics, and was very comfortable for a bus. However, it was still a bus. Kira and Torgeir would periodically get on the microphone and tell us about where we were going, or what was right outside our window. That was very nice, but also expected. However, what were not expected were the games they played with us along the way to break up the monotony. We played everything from Disney trivia to “Name that TV show.” Overall, they did their very best to make the not-so-fun bus rides, a very memorable part of the trip.
Reason 5: They become your friends
Almost like magic, Kira and Torgeir learned our names very quickly. Our adventure had the maximum number of people allowed at 40, and no kidding, less than two days into the trip, they knew everyone’s name. Not only did they know our names, but they treated us like friends and family. They weren’t afraid to share about themselves and were curious to learn about us as well. To be made to feel important was truly one of the best parts of this trip. With group travel, it is easy to fade into in consequence, but Kira and Torgeir did an incredible job at helping everyone feel they were important and that they were glad we were with them.
Our Adventure Guides truly made our Adventures by Disney trip one of the best vacations we have ever had. If you choose to go on an Adventures by Disney vacation, I can almost guarantee you will feel the same.
– Cody Woodbrey
For the first time this summer, on select sailing on both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder sailings Alaska and Europe, Disney will bring the land of “Frozen” to life. For one day of the sailing, the ship will be transformed into the land of “Frozen”. Guests will be able to immerse themselves in a new deck party, a three-song stage show production number, character meet and greets with some of your favorite “Frozen characters, new ashore adventures and much more.
Here are some of the all-new happenings for these select cruises:
- Memorable moments with Anna, Elsa, and for the first time in forever sing-along, with appearances from Kristoff and Olaf
- “Anna’s Chase for the Chocolate” a scavenger hunt with a special surprise for finishing the game… I think the surprise might have something to do with chocolate!
- “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” activity with kids learn now to use their magical powers to make snow and ice like Queen Elsa
- “The Maypole Swirl and Twirl” for guests wanting to learn traditional Scandinavian dances, all while spinning and braiding giant ribbons
- “Frozen” themed dining experience, the evenings dinner menu includes traditional Nordic fare and special dishes inspired by the film
- “Freezing the Night Away with Anna, Elsa and Friends,” an all new family-friendly interactive deck party featuring Princess Anna, Queen Elsa, Kristoff and everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf
With the Disney Magic sailing to Norway, guests will be able to have an even more immersive experiences. “Frozen” will make its debut in an all new production “Disney Dreams… An Enchanted Classic”. In this production, Princess Anna, Queen Elsa and Olaf along with your beloved Disney characters will teach an young girl the power of her dreams.
This is not all for guests sailing to Norway! Guests will also have the opportunity to experience all-new port adventures that bring the story of Arendelle to life. One of the signature adventure ashore in Ålesund, Norway, will immerse guests in the charm of Norway with the help with Anna and Elsa themselves.
The summer “Frozen” fun doesn’t stop there but expands to all Disney Cruise ships; Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Olaf with his warm hugs, will join the sisters from Arendelle in an all-new meet and greet experience. On the first night of the cruise, guests will be given a personal navigator with information where they can get tickets to participate in the meet and greet. You must have a ticket in order to participate, so get your ticket as soon as you can.
Cruises that port at Disney’s private Island, Castaway Cay, will also enjoy a new addition the island, Olaf’s Summertime Freeze bar. Specialty non-alcoholic frozen drinks will be served and is located near Pelican Point Tram stop by the Disney Castaway Cay Family Beach.
I’m not sure about you, but I am pretty excited about all the new “Frozen” happenings this summer. If you were thinking about taking a cruise, this might be the perfect time to go! For even more information or to book a Disney Cruise, please contact me today!
– Cody Woodbrey
When people think of Disney travel there are often several stereotypes that come to mind. Most people think of the famous Disney theme parks, particularly Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort. The stereotypes associated with these parks include attractions with long lines (hint: there is no need to stand in line, contact me the next time you go for help not to), parades, music, characters, and world-class service. Granted, for most people this is exactly what they want for their Disney vacation. However, few people realize that Disney travel extends far beyond the theme parks. In fact, Disney travel can take you to nearly every corner of the planet. How, you ask? Adventures by Disney!
This past summer I was granted the immense honor and pleasure of being invited on an Adventures by Disney trip to the magical land that inspired the world phenomenon “Frozen,” – Norway! When my wife and I were invited, we were floored. We have known about Adventures by Disney since it was launched and have spent quite a bit of time dreaming where we would like to go with them. Needless to say, it didn’t take us long to decide to accept the invitation and go.
Adventures by Disney offers everything from long weekend trips in New York City, to 12-day vacations in China and almost everything in between. Adventures by Disney trips are similar to other tour operators in that you are traveling with a group as large as 40. However, since Disney is in charge and has put their name to these vacations, you can rest assured that you will be kept in as luxurious of circumstances as possible at your destination.
For us, our vacation was eight days, seven nights in Norway – the land of fjords, trolls, lots of sheep and goats, and brown cheese. My wife and I learned as soon as we were picked up from the airport in a private car, that this was not going to be any ordinary tour of Norway. We were treated to the finest accommodations; our Adventure Guides would have, and did, bend over backwards for us, we were treated to the best daily excursions in the country, and all was done while we dove headfirst into the country’s beauty and culture.
In looking back over our trip, I can honestly say it was truly incredible. Over the next few blog posts, I will try to convey what it really means to take an Adventure by Disney. If you’ve ever wondered about Adventures by Disney, or if it is right for your family, my hope is that my experience with them will help you understand what you can expect from every angle possible.
For now, enjoy a few sneak peak photos and stay tuned for my next blog post dedicated to helping you learn about the Adventure.
– Cody Woodbrey