In today’s travel industry, there is much concern about applying the appropriate title to the right profession. We all seek acceptance and acknowledgment, and have a certain pride in our title. We view these attributes as society portrays and ranks them, not from within ourselves or how we feel about our profession. We want credibility and a certain status in the industry—travel or otherwise. The following is my opinion based on the travel industry and the root of the words themselves: agent, consultant, and advisor:
Travel Agent: In the 1500’s it meant “representative.” In view of this, I consider travel agents as representatives of the companies they work for. I would expect them to be salaried and with a possible bonus structure according to sales performance. Agents are practically extinct because of online travel sales. A traveler can make their own arrangements and often thinks there is an additional cost to pay when using a travel agent. The fee and pay structure of travel agents is varied and upfront. Always ask about their fee structure. Travel agents are usually employed by larger corporations, airlines, and cruise lines.
Travel Consultant: This word comes from consult, consultare, to counsel. As such, I consider travel consultants as researchers and listeners, able to devise a comprehensive plan for a complex trip. They are puzzle solvers, able to creatively make any trip possible. They will work with companies that have a commissionable structure as well as smaller local companies that might not have a commission available for consultants. Travel consultants are self employed and get remunerated by commissions, fees, and gifts from clients.
Travel Advisor: This word is from the Latin vis meaning “to see,” and later in the 1500’s from the Old French avis meaning ”opinion.” An advisor gives you an opinion that you don’t see. You seek an advisor for their expertise and to enlighten you or provide you with a different perspective. A travel advisor stays on top of all things travel and is able to advise a traveler of required documents, vaccinations, and possible health and safety conditions at your destination, as well as how to approach travel companies for changes, and/or refunds. Travel advisors may have a fee structure or not, depending on how they structure their business. They may be paid on commission or by a fee charged to the client.
So what am I really? I am an Travel Agent for travelers who have chosen their trip and look for help booking their vacation. I book travel. I do not charge a fee for this, as I book with companies that pay a commission. This does not cost the traveler any more than if they book the travel online themselves.
I am a Travel Consultant for travelers who want to extend their vacations beyond a cruise or tour. I independently map out their vacations, arrange trains, car rentals, hotels, museum and show tickets, fishing trips, ski trips, hiking trips . . . you name it. I have done it all. This requires many hours and weeks of research and planning. I have a fee structure for this service that can be applied to the traveler’s trips, with some restrictions.
I am a Travel Advisor for first-time travelers who don’t know what is available to them for a vacation, cruise, tour, or independent travel. I also advise seasoned travelers in a variety of needs. Some need to renew their passports, apply for visas, or get vaccines. Many need advice on weather at their destination. I usually do not require payment for this service. Most travelers requiring this attention are clients who are booking travel with me, so I am happy to include my advice for free as a perk, even though it requires many hours of constant reading and attending classes to keep up-to-date on travel issues.
Why I call myself a Travel Consultant: I am an adventurous traveler, a researcher, and a problem solver. I love puzzles, maps, and people. I love culture, food, history, art, and architecture. There is so much to see and share in this amazing world!
I created Maria’s Travel because I thrive on building new and different itineraries that connect cultures and gastronomy, as well as building healthy bridges between people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. This is my forte and what I am passionate about. I enjoy building and creating unforgettable memories for travelers. I want my clients to feel exhilarated about their vacations and come home with many stories to tell their friends and family, and memories that will last throughout their lives. —Maria Galvao
Maria’s home base is Shoreline, WA, located the Seattle area, when she’s not leading a tour in various exotic locations throughout the world.