Behind the Scenes at Hidden Gem Travel

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community!  Are you an entrepreneur or do you know someone who is?  I’ll tell you that while it’s fun and exciting to have your own business, it’s a huge commitment and a definite lifestyle. I love to connect and share ideas with others who have launched their own businesses, so reach out to me if you’re thinking about the entrepreneurial route or meeting other like-minded professionals.

Speaking of being an entrepreneur, when I’m in social situations, I’m often peppered with questions about my business and travel in general.  I love talking travel and find that there are some typical misconceptions and frequently asked questions:

For example,

  • What’s the difference between a travel agent and a travel advisor? 
  • When should I work with a travel professional versus planning my trip myself?
  • What’s up with the airlines these days?
  • Do I need travel insurance for my next vacation?
  • How can I get the best bang for my buck while still having an amazing vacation?
  • What’s it like to travel now to fill in destination and can I go in 2022 without jumping through major hoops?

It occurred to me that providing clarity and answering some of these travel FAQs would be an ideal topic for a newsletter, especially if you’re dreaming of your next bucket list vacation.  Read on for the scoop…

Note – feel free to forward this email to anyone you know who would benefit from this knowledge.

Do travel agents still exist?

The question, “do travel agents still exist?” always makes me chuckle.  When the internet took the world by storm and made it much easier to DIY travel bookings, travel agents took a hit.  In fact, Expedia launched 25 years ago next month.  In the last decade or so, travel agents have rebounded, and many have transformed into travel advisors. 

So yes, travel agents still exist, and the best ones are travel advisors.  Agents are transactional and sell travel products – the old school model.  Advisors are consultants who are relationship-oriented. If you like the idea of working with someone who gets to know you, works to understand how you/your family likes to travel, and provides a high-touch experience, an advisor is who you’re after. 

Many people don’t have time to spend hours planning their important vacations, and people who do have the time feel often that they could use a professional to help them make the best choices as well as provide an informed perspective.  So yes, we exist and are here to help you!

Recent client feedback:  Susan provided spot-on suggestions for our family vacation, from scenic drives to excursions to restaurants based on our family’s preferences and diverse interests. More than this, she cared about us and our trip from start to finish. She delivered information and a thoughtful gift before we left, checked in with us during our trip to see how we were doing, and to keep us informed about potential airline changes, and followed up with us afterwards.

The Rosewood Bermuda

When should I work with a travel advisor vs DIY?

I’ve already mentioned some obvious reasons to work with a travel advisor.  But what many people don’t realize is that we have insider access.  What I tell prospective clients is that if you need to buy a plane ticket or make a simple 3-star hotel or Airbnb booking, you can easily do that yourself online and should DIY.

For those special vacations where you aren’t familiar with the destination and want to stay in a lovely hotel, resort, or stand-alone property, I am your access to the best options.  As a Virtuoso network advisor, I VIP my clients at many 4-5-star accommodations and get them valuable perks and upgrades. 

A recent article in the Boston Globe supports the value aspect:

“In today’s world, working with a travel advisor is almost a no-brainer.  Advisors are adept at working through the complexities, and they have networks and relationships around the world to keep them up to date with ever-changing situations.”  More details here (no paywall):

Client Example: My clients checked into a gorgeous resort on Bermuda and upon arrival were upgraded to an incredible ocean view suite.  How I’m able to do this is my secret sauce 😊 but the basis of it is my network and relationships.  You can’t VIP or protect your reservation yourself. 

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  You can receive daily breakfast for two, resort credits, and other VIP perks! More info here: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences.

Value versus Deals

Warren Buffett’s insightful quote, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” holds true in the travel industry.  Deal chasing can save you a few bucks (be sure to read the fine print).  However, if you want value and the best experience for your investment then working with a travel advisor will be key.

Even clients with generous budgets want to make sure that they are getting good value for their money.  Personally, I feel exactly the same way, so I make sure that my clients get just that.  It comes down to understanding your priorities to stay within budget. 

Some of my best travel suppliers, many of which are in the Virtuoso network, offer trips that are a package where the hotels, tours, transfers, and other key components are rolled up into one price.  They don’t break down pricing, because they have contracted agreements and the value of those vacations is far better than a piecemeal itinerary.

Client Example:  I had planned a great trip to Hawaii, and then Susan Wilson and Virtuoso stepped in and we had a magical trip to Hawaii instead.  Well said! Exceeding expectations, finding hidden gems, and creating magic is my secret sauce 😊

Travel Insurance 101

First, I’m not an insurance agent so refer my clients to the experts when needed.  However, I am well versed in travel insurance and always provide a quote for every itinerary.  Why do you ask?  Because protecting your investment is important to me.

I’ve heard many travel mishap stories ranging from lost luggage to broken limbs.  We never think (hope with fingers crossed) that these things will happen to us but trust me, they do.  Also, no one wants to cancel a trip but there are covered reasons, depending on the plan you purchase. 

Right now, if you’re traveling outside of the country, you’ll need to take a covid test within three days of your return to the USA.  My preferred travel insurance company has an add-on item that will cover all or some of your accommodation expenses should you test positive and can’t get home as planned. 

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Contact your medical insurance company to learn what your coverage is when traveling internationally.  Many policies don’t cover medical costs if the care is given outside of the USA.  You’ll have to pay out of pocket if you don’t have primary travel insurance (most credit card coverage is secondary with relatively low limits).

Travel Game Changer

Recently, the airlines have been changing and canceling flights constantly for many reasons (example – pilot shortages).  It’s frustrating and sadly unavoidable and another reason for travel insurance. 

When my clients are flying, I track their flights to get ahead of any issues which is key to salvaging a gorgeous, bucket list vacation.  For my clients, they have access to a smart itinerary which they can access on their phones

What do I mean by smart? Their flights automatically update should there be any changes!  And I can update the itinerary as needed while they’re traveling.  This smart itinerary is only for industry use so more added value for Hidden Gem Travel clients!


Where To Next?

My answer to “What’s it like to travel now to fill in destination, and can I go in 2022 without jumping through major hoops?” is – it depends.  It’s much easier to travel domestically right now but many people are itching to resume international travel, myself included. 

Luckily, I have access to an industry portal that shows current regulations for every country.  Also, I have contacts on the ground from whom I get the local specifics.  So, if you have somewhere in mind, I can not only give you accurate information but a full overview so you can make an informed decision about when the time to travel is right for you.

If you’re dreaming about your next bucket list vacation, check out the Netflix for travel!  Virtuoso Wanderlist is a new trip-inspiration platform where you browse, save, and share vacation ideas with friends, family, and your travel advisor. The interactive tool lets travelers browse destinations and experiences and create a saved wish list that’s accessible when you’re ready to travel. No more cutting ideas from magazines or screenshotting photos. 

Inspired? If you’re thinking about your next bucket list vacation, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


Share This Post


Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


Get the Guide!

10 Hidden Gems to Inspire Your Family’s Wanderlist


My signature consultative process uncovers exactly what your family is craving for your next journey—so I can design a tailored, layered experience that speaks to what wows you.

Looking for something?


Enjoy a Wealth of Travel Resources, Guides, & Services​

All in One Place