Last updated: 09:17 PM ET, Mon May 09 2016

A Day in The Life of A Travel Agent

Travel Agent | Lisa Iannucci | May 09, 2016

A Day in The Life of A Travel Agent

Ever wonder what a travel agent has to do to get a trip together for a client? There is so much that goes into it – wishlists, special requests, sorting out the plan and much more.

When Jim Burrell and his wife moved to Winter Park, Florida from the UK, they wanted to book a trip to South Africa, so they reached out to Elizabeth Loftus of Luxury Trips. “As the recently retired VP of a major corporation in the UK, the husband wanted to take a leisure trip to South Africa,” she said. “On our website they noticed Africa was one of our specialties, so they set up a meeting with me.”

A true foodie and wine lover, Loftus said that Jim was most interested in visiting Cape Town’s winelands and eating at the most unique, well-rated restaurants. “His wife, however, had her heart set on a safari,” she said. “She dreamed of seeing Africa’s Big Five (Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo), though her husband wasn’t too keen on the idea of the rugged adventure he pictured when he thought of safari. He preferred a more high-end experience, so I knew I would need to choose accommodations that offered the best of both worlds.”

Loftus said that they wanted a beautiful, clean room to return to at night and prime service. “This was their dream vacation after all,” she said. “I wanted to make sure they felt like royalty everywhere they went.”

Loftus had visited the One and Only Cape Town last year when she was in South Africa last year, which, she explained, “gave me a clear idea of the level of luxury they wanted and really helped set the tone for the itinerary I would build.”

However, she was thrown one big hurdle: The couple had tickets for two rugby games in London with some time in between, which is when they wanted to take the trip. “So, they would fly to South Africa and back from London and they only had specific dates to work with,” she said. “I created a proposal — an 11-day program incorporating luxury in the Sabi Sand, the very best of Cape Town, and Franschhoek, which is known as the food and wine capitol of South Africa.”

She recommended they begin at Singita Boulders Lodge, what she calls, “hands-down one of South Africa’s most luxurious accommodations, yet it’s nested in one of the best regions for prime game viewing. Mrs. Burrell would get to go on the safari of her dreams and the husband would be impressed by the upscale amenities and excellent service. Not only that, Singita has a Premier Wine Boutique with some of the most sought-after private reserves and vintage wines. I knew he would love that.”

The couple stayed at Singita for four nights, then spent four nights at the One&Only Cape Town. “I wanted to ensure they had one of the best views, so I gave them a Premier Marina Table Mountain room, booked a private tour of historic Robben Island and Table Mountain,” she said.

“For the next day I booked a private full-day helicopter peninsula tour to see Cape Town’s captivating sights from a birds-eye view. The next day I left open to let them enjoy the city at leisure, with plenty of shopping and entertainment opportunities.”

The couple went to Franschhoek where Loftus booked a private full-day winelands tour with specialist wine guide, on which they could sample wines that are inaccessible to the general public. “They’d meet winemakers and learn all about the 400-year winemaking tradition in depth, then enjoy lunch at one of the finest restaurants in South Africa, Delaire Graff,” he said. “In Franschhoek, they stayed at La Residence — which is beyond opulent, peppered with glimmering Indian chandeliers — and sits on a 30-acre private estate surrounded by vineyards and plum orchards. Of course, I coordinated travel times so they could easily attend the rugby games before and after the trip. What an awesome start and end to a vacation!”

Loftus explained that the couple loved her proposal and didn’t have any requests for adjustments, but that’s a rare occurrence. Three days later, they were ready to book and returned the form with their deposit, and they were all set on their end. “I arranged every detail from international flights to private transfers, set up dinner reservations for them almost every night while they were in Cape Town and the winelands,” she said. “I sent them our A-Z documents, which we send to every client upon booking. These documents include important information about the destination(s) they’ll be traveling to including general country information, health information, emergency contacts, etc.”

Two weeks before the trip, Loftus conducted a pre-departure call, where she reviewed their itinerary in full detail, step-by-step and answers any last-minute questions.

“When they got back they raved about it,” she said. “Funny enough, he said the safari was incredible and he can’t wait to do it again, but of all the accommodations, the One&Only was the only one that didn’t impress them, compared to the others. Don’t get me wrong—that property is amazing, but I think since they didn’t know what to expect from the others, they were truly surprised. Singita and La Residence totally won their hearts.”

The couple called again a month later and Loftus booked them on their next trip to the Galapagos Islands. “I think it is safe to say that we both enjoyed and have been impressed working with Elizabeth,” said Jim Burrell. “She made the whole process easy and enjoyable, which is what it is supposed to be and why we came back to plan the Galapagos trip.”


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