Do you ever wonder about the work we do behind the scenes? Have you ever asked why you should work with a travel advisor instead of some hotel booking website? One of our clients recently asked what value we provide and he got his answer!
Recently, an Ourisman Travel client, celebrated his 40th birthday with a group of friends in Las Vegas. After a consultation phone call, we explored the best options for this clients’ celebration wish list and discussed details including specific dining and entertainment needs. We debated the merits of different hotel locations in Las Vegas, ultimately settling on the Aria Resort & Casino for its central location, excellent access to shopping, and great variety of dining options.
To be perfectly honest, we usually wrinkle our nose at requests for Las Vegas bookings and we have a firm policy that we will not accept inquiries for Vegas from first-time clients. The mega hotels in Las Vegas are so volume oriented that we cannot always be confident in the experience that is delivered to our clients. We don’t want to leave clients playing a game of hotel service roulette and we prefer to keep the gambling on the casino floor, so we are always extra cautious when taking on a Vegas booking.
We do book Aria quite frequently and have always been happy with the VIP experience they offer our clients with their generous Virtuoso amenities:
- A complimentary room category upgrade, based on availability at check-in
- Two $30 breakfast credits per room, per day, redeemable at ARIA Buffet, ARIA Café, and In-Room Dining.
- One (1) $50.00 Food & Beverage credit & one (1) $50 Spa credit per room, per stay.
- 12:00 Noon Early check-in/4:00pm late check out, subject to availability
- Mlife Priority Check-In line
- ARIA SKY SUITES BOOKINGS: Guests are extended complimentary round trip airport limousine transfers in a fuel alternative limousine, Pre-Arrival Concierge contact, light refreshments in Sky Suites Lounge throughout the day and $5.00 daily WiFi credit applied to Daily Resort Fee, subject to applicable tax.
We booked five deluxe rooms for our client’s birthday celebration; he took his confirmations and went on his merry way! But that is where our real job begins. We know you can book these hotels through multiple avenues, and we’re not even your only option for getting those coveted Virtuoso amenities, but Ourisman Travel prides itself in our post-booking VIP process.
Our VIP Process: Every single booking that we make is supported by a personalized pre-arrival letter to the hotel staff. The letter helps them prepare for your arrival and more. Our goal is to help our partners think creatively about how to make your stay extra special. We operate as detectives when we are working with our clients, making note of every little detail of your travel preferences. Food allergies and bedding preferences are covered in our client preference forms, but we also pay attention to mentions of things like a favorite meal, wine, movie, book, car, color, flower, etc. etc. All of this are noted in our client profiles and we weave these details into our pre-arrival letters. These letters are the one true travel product that Ourisman Travel owns and controls, and we take them very seriously. We babysit these letters and make sure we receive an acknowledgment of receipt from the hotels; we won’t let them get lost in the void of someone’s messy inbox.
When our group arrived at the Aria, the hotel had already received our pre-arrial letter and were prepared with all of the details about the reservation and the birthday celebration. On arrival, the group enjoyed the VIP MLife check-in experience, a fast-track perk that meant they didn’t have to stand in a long queue and could enjoy their rooms as quickly a possible. Each room received their full Virtuoso amenity package and our birthday guest received a special celebratory welcome gift to wish him a happy birthday.
All was going well… until it wasn’t. Our client emailed us on the last day, “This has actually been an awful experience. … Very negative feedback!”
PRO-TIP: If you are having an issue during your hotel stay, please alert us immediately. Also, keep in mind that the realities of time zone differences and business hours may prevent us from responding immediately. We’re here to help as your travel advisor from afar, but the people who can quickly correct any mishap are right there at the hotel; please also be your own advocate for a positive experience and make sure you communicate your issues and needs to the hotel staff.
Before we had a chance to understand the cause of complaint, we receive the dreaded worst feedback from our client,
“this is why people (or at least I) don’t want to work with travel agents anymore. What value did you ultimately provide that software won’t?”
Boy, did that sting!
We quickly got to the bottom of the bad experience. The client wanted to be generous to his friends and foot the bill for all rooms. We had already allocated individual names to each room to create a smooth check-in experience upon arrival, but created unexpected confusion at check-out. We could have done a better job here to understand the clients motivations and communicate the client’s intentions. A glitch in billing for one of the rooms led to an erroneous overcharge and further frustrations.
Now that we understood the problem, Team Ourisman went into action! We involved all of our Aria contacts to resolve their mistake. We take billing errors seriously and wanted to get a refund for the guest ASAP. That’s exactly what we accomplished! Within two hours of making contact, the refund was confirmed, as well as a complimentary upgrade to an Aria Strip View Suite on their next visit. That is the power of a strong partnership!
So… What value did we ultimately provide that software could not?
- We offered our consultation services and provided a personalized recommendation for the group, drawing on our expert hotel and destination knowledge.
- We leveraged our partnerships to ensure that all of guests received VIP status from the hotel
- We provided Virtuoso amenities with real monetary value: each room received $60 per room to put toward breakfast, $50 in food & beverage credits, and $50 in spa credits – that’s a total $160 in savings for each room.
- We were available as advocates to get get quick results when things didn’t go as planned at check-out. We prevented the client from wasting hours on hold trying to reach the right person to explain his problem and get his refund. Many people would have given up before they got that far.
- The complimentary upgrade for the next trip to Las Vegas is just icing on the cake!
Today was a hard day in my life as a travel advisor; it is never fun when you feel you must justify your own value. But, this experience served as a great reminder of all of the good work we do. We don’t just offer amenities and perks to our clients; we work every day to truly elevate your precious travel experiences. We act as advocates while planning your trip and during the trip itself. We especially love connecting when you return home, even if it means we must spend the day advocating for you further. We also hope that will lead to the next trip and the cycle will continue! On to the next Adventure!