Travel agent Nicole Deforest from our Guelph location has been working in the industry for 9 years. With 7 years of travel agent experience, and 2 years as a flight attendant, Nicole is a great agent to help book your next vacation. She is a Sandals specialist, Disney specialist, Celebrity specialist, and AMResorts Master Agent. We chatted with Nicole to find out some of her best travel tips and secrets:
Why was the travel industry something you wanted to get into?
I love to travel! My family is from Barbados and Trinidad, so I think it runs in my blood. I was even married in Punta Cana at a destination wedding and then took another honeymoon to see more of the world.
What is your favourite destination and why?
I’d have to say St. Lucia, where I had my honeymoon. The views were stunning and like nothing else, the people were so nice, and the food was amazing. For Europe, I’d have to say Italy is my favourite: there are some amazing sights and culture, and the food is amazing.
Let’s get into some of the questions everyone is dying to know. What is the best day or time to book flights?
That’s the million dollar question everyone wants to know when they’re trying to find travel tips…For air, I usually tell my clients to look and book in the morning. A lot of people are putting flights on hold, and then if they haven’t book by midnight, there’s all that product left so it might be cheaper, and there’s more available than if you’re looking mid-day. For all-inclusive vacations, it’s really based on supply and demand so there’s no real secret to when you should book.
So if people are looking for the cheapest option, how is booking with a travel agent cheaper?
If you’re booking with a travel agent, we’re seeing things packaged together from the suppliers so you’re not paying tax twice or paying for flights and then your package, it’s all bundled together so that ends out being a deal if you do the math. At tripcentral.ca, all the prices you see have taxes included, so you’re not going to be surprised with a higher cost when you go to pay for your next vacation.
Why should someone book through you? Isn’t it easier online, from home?
It’s better to book with an agent, I always say. I do that dirty work for the clients – I can add requests for hotels or flights online, which someone booking themselves can’t do, and if there are any mistakes or issues, I’m then the one doing those hold times with tour operators, rather than the clients themselves. Booking with a travel agent also means that we’ll be doing a needs analysis, finding which hotel or destination is best suited for the client. We also provide after-care service, and of course tripcentral.ca has Trip Assist for when clients are in-destination.
Another big thing is that our travel agents have been to those destinations that we book for our clients: that’s really the biggest thing. We offer expertise because we know the destinations and the hotels. If a client is really looking to book online without having to deal with coming into the store or calling an agent, we do have a chat option on our website so an agent can walk you through the packages you’re looking at.
What is the best place to take my family on vacation?
My favourite for a family vacation would be Punta Cana: it’s great for budget travelers, it has an amazing beach and there are just so many options for resorts and programs, depending on your needs. Cuba is another one that is both cheap and cheerful.
Is there a hotel or resort chain that you recommend over another?
My go-to resorts are always the Barcelo, Bahia, and Iberostar resorts, because of what they offer: they’re really great for everyone. If you’re going to Punta Cana, I’d recommend the Sirenis because it has an amazing waterpark for families.
What are your best tips for travelers?
I get a lot of questions on medical issues like what kind of pills they might need and that’s not something I can give out as I’m not a doctor. I do recommend that people take Imodium with them; you’re going to be in an area with different water and greases used in cooking and that’s not what our bodies are used to here in Canada. With lots of fruity drinks and tropical fruit, your stomach might not be used to all those changes.
It’s also important to make sure your passport is valid before you even book: a lot of times your passport needs to be valid for six months around your travel time and I’ve seen customers come in to book and have no idea about the status of their passport.
Finally, when I travel, I only convert $100-$200 at a time, because a lot of times converting that money back, you’re losing cents with each dollar so smaller amounts are better than a large sum that you’re going to have to switch back in the end.
Nicole is experienced in helping travellers book Caribbean vacations, plan their destination wedding, and get away to Europe. If you’re looking for help planning your next vacation, call Nicole at 1-800-665-4981 ext. 7341.