If you’ve not heard of the Virgin Voyages adult-only cruise setting sail in the upcoming years, you’re truly missing out! It’s hard to imagine a cruise ship being without kids or the elderly but for many, it’s the reason they avoid cruising altogether. Trips like these are out there but not many people know about them. How do you find the right person to get you through the hassle of bookings and around many scams out there these days, and just get to the vacationing? We sat down with John Walker with Dream Vacations and asked him just that!
When it comes to finding a travel agent, what are the key things you should look for?
“First and foremost, the LGBTQ segment is usually internet savvy and many prefer to book online on their own. People think travel agents are professions that are from the past generations before the internet. The travel agent is making a HUGE comeback. Many travelers miss customer service. If you book a vacation online on your own you will never have a point of contact and if you need help with anything you would have to call a 1-800 number and wait for hours to talk to someone that has absolutely no connection to you and chances are that operator has never even been to your destination. Travel Agents are a free service since the Vendors (Hotels, Cruise Lines, Resorts) pay the agent.
Once you book with a Travel Agent, you will get their cell phone and email which is truly unmatched on booking on your own. When looking for a travel agent, look for awards listed on their website, Look for their Better Business Bureau rating, and make sure they are legit as members of professional travel associations.
TIP: Award-winning travel agents usually have access to non-published secret promo codes and exclusive bonus perks that are exclusive to the Travel Agency such as Free Dining Certificates, Discount excursions, Free Room Upgrades, Free spa treatments and bonus spending cash on the Vacation. You would never get that booking on your own.
Should you go with a gay travel agent to book LGBTQ geared vacations or can any agent help you?
“All certified agents have access to book about 90% LGBTQ vacations. There are some LGBTQ vendors that only allow travel agents to partner with them if they have actually been to the LGBTQ destination to experience on their own and then they can apply to be an official agent of that vendor. I am gay and have been to many gay destinations and I also have a large family so I have also been to numerous straight / family destinations. There is a HUGE difference between the two segments and destinations. While truly a reputable non-LGBTQ agent can book you on an LGBTQ destination, they may not be able to give you proper tips on your LGBTQ needs. There are different desires of LGBTQ guests, and may want advice on nightlife, where is the best drag bar, is there a gay beach? An LGBTQ agent really can answer questions for that specialized segment.
TIP: If you are looking to book an LGBTQ vacation a standard agent may not be aware that some countries are illegal for LGBTQ visitors so they may suggest an incredible luxury resort, that agent may not be aware that LGBTQ visitors are not welcome in that destination. LGBTQ visitors should avoid Russia, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, and Egypt. Homosexuality is illegal and based on my past experiences, it was a VERY uncomfortable experience.”
What types of trips can you book? Tell me a little bit about your travel agency and what you specialize in?
“A Travel Agent is considered a professional in the travel industry. The world is an enormous place to explore. Certified agents can truly book 90% of the world. But the reason you reach out to the agent is for expert advice. I’ve never been to Russia and I had a guest call me last week for me to plan a trip to Russia. I told the client that I’ve never been but I can book their entire trip for them. Unfortunately, I would be unable to offer valuable tips in that destination but I could refer them to an agent that has had an amazing experience and can give valuable information.
When speaking to the Agent on the initial call agent tell them your desires, where is your dream destination and ask the agent are you an expert on that destination. For my DREAM VACATIONS Atlanta branch, we have over 30 years of International Travel experience. I am a true expert on LGBTQ vacations, Major Cruise Lines, Luxury Cruise Lines, and European Hotel – Airfare packages. I also handle LGBTQ Destination Weddings.”
How do you think you’re helping transform the way the LGBTQ community in Atlanta is exploring the world?
“My agency offers such personal service, we want the client to be transparent on their needs and we will do everything to make their Dream a reality. Our agency is constantly offering annual Atlanta Takeovers to a specifics destination. In the past we have taken Atlanta groups on LGBTQ Cruises, International Pride Festivals, All Inclusive resorts and our next Atlanta Travel Takeover will be in September 2020 for a four-day cruise out of Miami on the brand new cutting edge VIRGIN Cruise Ship.