As Canadians grab their passports and head for the airport, many are turning to the knowledge and expertise of travel consultants to help them get the most out of their trips.
We sat down with Karen Taaffe, Manager of Product Development, Travel, for CAA North & East Ontario to learn more about how these specialized consultants can help make your next trip as hassle-free as possible.
Despite the availability of booking online, CAA Travel has seen an uptick in people booking with your travel experts. What’s the main driver for that?
Karen Taaffe: “Travel consultants assist their clients with every step of travel from planning the perfect trip and making sure everything is booked to advising on insurance and taking care of any unexpected issues.”
Cost of living is top of mind for Canadians. How can travel consultants get the best value for your dollar?
KT: “Travel consultants have access to pricing, deals, and offers that you won’t find when you book your own travel. Consultants are also experienced in the industry and know which destinations and suppliers offer more value for your dollar. In some cases, a better deal isn’t just a lower price.
CAA has exclusive partnerships with popular travel partners like Rocky Mountaineer, AmaWaterways, and Holland America Line which gives our Members access exclusive amenities and benefits to enhance their travel experiences.”
Another big topic is cancellations, so tell us about choosing the right travel insurance.
KT: “Yes, travel insurance is one of the top conversations in travel these days. Travel consultants are well-versed in all things travel, including insurance. They can review your existing policy and help you to determine where there may be gaps in the coverage to make sure that you are protected.
For example, a Grand Canyon helicopter tour may not be covered under a normal policy but some insurance companies, like CAA Travel Insurance, offer add-ons for activities like this. Travel insurance isn’t just about health care, though. It can cover a lot more than just emergency medical situations. You should look into trip cancellation and interruption insurance, or better yet, bundle your policy into a vacation package for the best coverage.”
CAA Travel is always a huge resource for traveller dealing with unexpected cancellations. How do you help clients who run into problems?
KT: “Unfortunately, travellers can sometimes experience surprise cancellations or changes. When you work with a professional travel consultant, you don’t have to worry about rebooking or finding a way home all on your own. Travel consultants handle the details while you are booking your trip and when you are travelling to make sure that your vacation is as effortless as possible.”
Travel consultants are also fans of travel. How do they use their personal experience to help clients?
KT: “The best travel consultants have explored the world and have personal experience with a wide range of destinations and travel partners which makes them well-qualified to share their first-hand experiences and reviews. CAA Travel Consultants also get to know you and your travel companions so they can make recommendations for destinations, cruises, and tours that you will enjoy.
Since restrictions have lifted, almost 80 percent of our CAA Travel Consultants have gone and experienced what it’s like travelling now, so they can share their personal knowledge with you.”
One thing we learned about the pandemic is that it’s hard to keep up with travel rules. Is that something CAA Travel Consultants stay on top of?
KT: “Though travel has opened up around the world, the rules for individual countries and airlines continue to change. CAA Travel Consultants keep up-to-date with the latest travel advice and advisories and are trained to know what to do in case of an emergency abroad.
We’ve been beside our clients throughout the pandemic, and now we’re helping travellers get back to their long-awaited vacations and making sure they have everything they need to be ready to travel.”
CAA offers travel services, specializing in cruises and guided tours. They also offer competitive travel insurance, protecting Canadians wherever they go.
CAA Travel Insurance is underwritten by Orion Travel Insurance Company, a CAA Company. Certain exclusions, limitations and restrictions apply. Subject to change without notice. A Medical Questionnaire may be required to purchase travel insurance. Quotes are valid for 30 days.