Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tinkerbell, Pixie Dust, Pirates, and a missing tooth (Disney Cruise Line)

You know when you are traveling with children that something unexpected is likely going to happen.  It's fate.  Sometimes it's good, sometimes not so much, but something unexpected nonetheless.  Well, on one of our Disney cruises, the inevitable happened, as it somehow always managed to do when we were traveling.  Fortunately this was one of those times that it was a little thing--little but VERY memorable. 

While we were sailing aboard the Disney Wonder my son lost a tooth.  After calming him down (for some reason tooth loss always came with hysteria and tears), we told him that it was pretty cool to lose a tooth at sea, and now he looked like a pirate!  He thought about that for a few minutes, smiled and decided that having a missing tooth for the pirate night would be cool, so all was well.  Then he asked the inevitable--"Mom, will the tooth fairy be able to get on the ship?"  I assured him that all would be fine, and that yes, the tooth fairy would find him. That was all he needed to hear, and things went back to normal (back to the kids club he went, proud of his new found "pirate" self.)

So off I trekked to Guest Services to see if they had something that I could put the tooth in (for safe keeping).  When I arrived at Guest Service, the very nice girl at the desk asked me for all of the details (and our cabin, etc.) so that she could alert our cabin steward, and then she promptly handed me a little envelope to put the tooth into.  I tucked away the tooth, and a short while later we went to dinner and forgot all about the tooth, and tooth fairy.

Pixie Dusted Bed
More Pixie Dust on the Floor
Tinkerbell's Card
Imagine our surprise when we arrived back to the cabin and TINKERBELL herself had paid us a visit!  When we walked in the room there was pixie dust all over, which started on our bed.  The pixie dust was carefully spread out along the bed, and then it continued down to the floor.  Leaving a trail behind of her visit.  Her pixie dust trail continued along and over to my son's bed.  In the center of the "pixie dust" was a card.  Inside the card was a message (and money**...) from Tinkerbell congratulating him on losing his tooth.  He also received an "I lost a tooth" button as well.  The pixie dust then continued over to the verandah door, and then it ended (a very nice touch I might add!)

Tinkerbell's Message
My son spent the rest of the cruise telling anyone who would listen that Tinkerbell had come to see him instead of the Tooth Fairy, and she visited his cabin and left him a really cool card, button, and money for his tooth!  Oh, and now he was an "official" pirate!  It was priceless, and a moment in time that I will never forget.  Thank you Disney Cruise Line for making it magical!

Do you have a magical Disney Cruise Line story?  We'd love to hear about it.

**disclaimer--the tooth fairy money wasn't from Disney, or Tinkerbell, it *may* have been put in with that card by my son's "Tooth Fairy", who may have come into the cabin prior to the rest of the family from dinner.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I am a travel agent...

I am often asked why someone should use a travel professional/agent.  "What's in it for me?" is often what I hear, or "I can do it myself."   In this digital world where you can click through websites and apps at a moment’s notice, Google an answer, look for an idea, where is the value?  The value is in the person—read for more perspective on the subject.

I am a travel agent.
I'm sometimes called a travel counselor or a travel professional. I use my knowledge of destinations, resorts, escorted tours, cruise ships, air travel and attractions to "counsel" clients on the best choices for their vacation dreams, desires and budgets.

As a travel agent, I add value
Think of me as you would an accountant, attorney, or a real estate agent. You can file your own tax return, but those who choose to use an accountant do so because they recognize that specialized knowledge pays off. You can represent yourself in court, but those who choose to have an attorney assist generally have better results brought forth by the attorney's specialization and knowledge.  Likewise, you can buy or sell your house without a real estate agent, but most people don't, because the absence of that knowledge can result in unexpected issues. While my role is to match up clients with the appropriate travel products, it's always the client's interests that I represent. If anything goes wrong with their trip, I'm there for them.  I am your advocate and voice.

Your time is precious
You have choices today. You can research and book your trip online. You might even save a couple of dollars. If you're just booking a flight from point A to point B, go ahead and book online. I won't be offended. You might find that it takes longer than you expected to find the 'best price' and if your flight is oversold or cancelled you'll be on your own, but if you're a gambler the odds are pretty good you'll be OK.

When it comes to your hard-earned vacation time, I will passionately defend the value of my services. That shiny brochure with the golden bodies sitting around a glistening pool doesn't always tell the reader the whole story. I might know that that pool that looks so inviting in the brochure is under renovation, the rooms are old, tired and dated; that on the particular week of your holiday choice that the place will be packed with drunken college kids. These things may matter to you. The value of that knowledge might even be worth many times the cost of the vacation.

Benefit from my knowledge.
My knowledge offers other benefits—the concierge who can arrange tickets to anything you might wish to attend; that wonderful little restaurant tucked away in a side street; the seat on the plane with that extra legroom. These are the kinds of things I learn through my travels and studies. I'm thrilled to share them with you.  I travel frequently to know these things first hand and to be able to share that knowledge with my clients.

I am a travel agent.
This is how I make my living. I may not get rich doing this, but that's not my motivation. I love to travel, see new places, meet new people, and enjoy new sensations. More than anything, I love the feedback from clients that my knowledge, care and attention helped them to create lasting memories. That's worth a lot to them. What is it worth to you?

Contributed by Sue Ellen Soto-Rios, Director of Travel for DreamFinder Travel.  Sue Ellen has had a passion for travel her entire life.  She travels extensively to multiple destinations in order to be able to share her knowledge with her clientele, and is an avid and self proclaimed "foodie" and wine enthusiast.