Travel Agents & Caribbean Tours
Most people who visit the Caribbean with an organized group do so on a cruise. Cruise ships typical handle the excursions and coordinate directly with the tour operators so neither the traveler, nor the travel agent needs to do more than communicate with the cruise line. If you have a client who hopes to do an organized tour of the Caribbean that is land based, there are many different companies that can help you out. Most tours are one or two days in length and offer transportation, food and activities. It is also possible to arrange these tours directly through a hotel or resort. They typically have relationships with reliable tour operators as well.
If you're arranging excursions or land tours directly with the tour operator for your clients, make sure you understand everything that is included in the package as well as the standard of travel that is provided. If your clients are prepared for a luxury experience, make sure that your chosen tour operator is comfortable providing that luxury outing. Also confirm the size of the group that will be participating. If you clients prefer a private tour, make sure that the tour operator understands that and does not merge several different groups together to cut down on costs.
Central America is a small region and tours are an efficient and convenient way to explore they area. Many people who travel to Central America are interested in ecotourism or adventure travel. The rainforests in the area are wonderful and the wildlife and birdwatching is a major draw. There are also wonderful beaches, excellent scuba diving, and top class whitewater rafting.
If your clients are hoping to be pampered a little, there are many different spas and resorts that will appeal to them. In and around Arenal, Costa Rica there are hot springs and high end spas that appeal to all types of vacationers. A visit to this area is a must for most tours of Costa Rica.
Ecotourism is a responsible and interesting way to experience the region. If your client expresses an interest in this form of travel then Central America is the perfect place for them. Many of the companies that focus specifically on responsible travel are smaller in size. If you are not familiar with a company, make sure you thoroughly research it before recommending it to a client. Also make sure you read reviews from both travel agents and travelers to ensure that the company provides a standard that you expect for your clients.
There are plenty of specialty tours throughout Central America. If your client is specifically interested in birdwatching, there are tours that focus almost exclusively on that aspect of the area. Other activities that are popular in the area include deep sea fishing, hiking, and volunteerism.
Marketing Your Business
The Caribbean is one of the most popular regions to visit in the world. The area thrives on tourism, and as such there are many resources available to travel agents to stay informed and educated on the area. If you specialize in Caribbean travel, make sure you take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you. Go to the conferences and attend the training sessions. Network with other travel agents and suppliers to make sure you have all of the information necessary to market your business to clients.
Travel agents that specialize in Central American travel often do well by partnering with environmental or wildlife focused organizations. Ecotourism is a major draw to the region and if you can establish a relationship with organizations interested in the environment, then you will easily find clients excited about a trip. Educational programs are also a good connection to have. Contact local museums or schools to see if there is any interest in group travel to the area. Volunteerism is another major reason for travel to Central America. Many churches organize mission trips to the area and will likely find your expertise useful during the coordination process. Think outside the box and you'll likely to expand your business in a direction you may never have realized before.
Familiarization (Fam) Trips
Because the Caribbean is such an important travel destination, many companies work hard to keep travel agents informed and aware. Familiarization trips, known as Fam Trips, are an important part of the industry. Not only are they a fun way to explore a new place, but they are also an important way of staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the travel business. Customers expect travel agents to have first hand experience in a place or with a company. Fam trips are designed to offer travel agents that experience at a discounted rate. As an informed travel agent you should join email lists and stay on top of travel news websites. Many of these resources will post information about the latest fam trip offerings. If you see a trip that is in your area of expertise, it is important that you take advantage of this opportunity. Don't just expect a discounted vacation though. Your time will be spent exploring the hotels, resorts, and amenities that are made available to guests. You'll have the opportunity to see different levels of rooms. You may also be able to take some excursions so you can recommend these tours and activities to your clients. It's important that you arrive on your fam trip prepared to learn. Ask questions on behalf of your clients, because this is your chance to interact face to face with company representatives from the companies you're recommending.