When I was growing up, our family had a travel agent whom we would call to arrange all our vacations. She was an incredibly competent lady who worked out of an office in the downtown core and gave us her home number in case we needed to contact her outside of her regular business hours.
Here are the 5 reasons why Travel Bloggers are the new Travel Agents
From arranging plane tickets to hotels or rental cars, this one person took care of everything and we trusted her judgement from the years of our family (and family friends) who used her services for successful and memorable experiences.
In today’s day and age however, folks like our family travel agent just don’t exist. A travel agent by the current standard are folks who sit in an office and answer email requests from people who are price shopping between the many options of purchasing travel online through seamless integrations of airfare, hotels and transportation.
Something’s missing though…Where’s the trust?
Travel agents are part of the workforce segment that are traditionally paid through commissions, so how are you to truly understand the motivations of the professional who went to school to learn the ins and outs of the industry and are recommending a specific hotel in a location that they’ve never been to before?
Let’s rope this into Disney & Universal, because it’s a language that we can all understand.
DISCLOSURE – Steps To Magic does not have an exclusive deal nor do we endorse a specific travel agency.
TRAVEL BLOGGERS HAVE WEBSITES WITH PHOTOS THAT SHOW THAT THEY’VE BEEN TO A LOCATION
I’ve never been to San Francisco, so for me to share the best hotels or locations would get you the same information as if you’d hit a basic google search or headed over to TripAdvisor. I could tell you the basics (Alcatraz, Trolly cars, the ‘Full House’ House and the Golden Gate Bridge), but to do as the local…I could not even come close.
BUT if you wanted to know where to find Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World…well you know where I’m going with that.
BLOGGERS ARE PAID THROUGH DIFFERENT WAYS
There are different affiliate programs that most bloggers belong to, from Amazon, Teepublic to many other companies. Those are commissioned deals, where we don’t get a cheque unless someone clicks through the link and makes a purchase in a certain timeframe. They can be profitable, but that’s not the only way…
Steps To Magic is part of an ad network where we can paid per PAGE VIEW. This means that my goal for this website is to provide the best content and value to my readers without scaring them away with an overly-pushy tone.
My personality is all over the website, from my vocabulary choices to the recommendations that I discuss in the articles. I can check off a number of boxes, but you know from the get-go what my background is and whether or not you’ll gel with my ideas.
I really like bacon, but my partner is vegetarian…so when I’m booking our reservations at Disney, my goal is to allow her to get the best variety with menus and not stuck with salads for every meal. And then you find the “Best restaurants for Vegetarian & Meat-Eater couples” article
I’m a photographer, so when I’m talking about the best attractions to take photos on…I’ll do my best to prove it. This may not only be through the website, but it’ll also be over at the Steps To Magic Instagram.
My plans at Disney usually start with dining, then head to attractions and finishes with character interactions. I think about sleep last…which is why I’ll very rarely discuss the thread count of a pillow case and more focus on the reasons why a resort would be appealing to someone who likes to be at the parks for most of the day.
TRAVEL BLOGGERS DON’T FOCUS ON PRICE
Yes, price is important…but there’s so much more to an experience than the hit to your bank account. This means that I’ll put a review of Queen Victoria Room at Victoria & Alberts ($175-225 per person for a 7 or 10 course meal spread over 3-4 hours) in the same breath about the Best Cupcakes at Disney (ranging from FREE to a few bucks).
Why is this an integral piece to this conversation? Well I’ve had travel agents ‘price’ me out of particular experiences based on advanced sales techniques and have said after that they “didn’t think I could afford” something because of number of factors (from my age to appearance).
Travel bloggers understand that it’s about planting a seed for future travel and that when we talk about something cool or mind-blowing, like a dining encounter or extra-ticketed event…you may put it on your bucket list and then possibly plan a future trip during a timeframe that would allow you to try that thing.
We’ve specifically gone to Disney in November to experience Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and I know of friends who travel to events like Wrestlemania or Harry Potter Celebration or D23 because they’ve seen bloggers or ‘influencers’ there and they wanted to see it first hand!
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TRAVEL AGENTS AREN’T NICHE AGENTS
There’s a difference between Niche Agents and Travel Agents. Wait…what?
The idea that an agency can be staffed with folks who are interested in a specific style of travel or a location is becoming more and more popular. Destination travel is great because you’re able to recommend local stuff vs generic tourist traps.
I have friends who are Niche Travel Agents and I also have friends who are General Travel Agents. Both have their pro’s and con’s, but what’s getting interesting in the market are the agents who are becoming bloggers because they are seeing the growth potential of showing their client base that they actually take their own recommendations.
Just looking at my Top Disney YouTubers article shows this to be true, as our current #3 spot is held by Jones Family Travel. They are a family…who travel…and their last name is Jones. BUT what the title doesn’t tell you, is that Allison also runs the Travel Agency ‘Destinations in Florida’, which is a niche agency that looks after travel to the sunshine state (Universal Orlando, Disney World, etc).
To summarize, there’s plenty of change in the industry which is providing a platform for Travel Bloggers to become the new Travel Agents, because we practise what we talk about. We try things out and the goal is to share our experiences to help our readers to become the best informed travellers as possible.
There are amazing travel agents out there! They are good people looking at making a living to provide for their family, but what we look at in the current market of Expedia, Hotels.com and Groupon…travel is about experiences.
As a travel blogger, it’s becoming really interesting to see how the industry is shifting away from brochures and mailing catalogs in order to show experiences first-hand. Travel agents have moved into ‘Niche’ markets in order to show their passions and it’ll allow for greater partnerships and potential for travellers to explore in their own way by using the experiences of bloggers world-wide.
Let’s go out there and keep exploring!