FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For your convenience, our most common customer questions are answered right here.

What qualifications are required to be an expert travel consultant?

 

Years of study and dedication resulted in industry-leading certifications as follows:

Certified Travel Consultant, (CTC)
A 2-year program sponsored by the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA); equivalent to an MBA in the travel business
In order to remain current, I must take continuation coursework every year
I have been an active and current CTC for 17 years

One of the most dynamic, competitive and highly visible markets within the travel industry is ocean/sea and river cruising. To become a professional in cruises, I took:

Master Cruise Counselor, (MCC) 
A 2-year program, sponsored by the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA), equivalent to an MBA in the cruise industry.
To stay current, I must take continuation coursework & cruises
I have been an active and current MCC for over 20 years

Having grown up in Puerto Rico, I am fluent in Spanish and have traveled to many of the Caribbean islands. My husband and I lived in southern Spain for 3 years and took every opportunity to travel throughout Europe. We’ve been to 80+ countries…and counting.

Education:

I began my career by graduating with a BA in Psychology from Monmouth University in New Jersey.
I have published travel articles for AZ and FL publications

What are your favorite places and activities?

Favorite Vacation: 2-week photographic safari in Kenya
Favorite Cruise: Baltic Sea/Scandinavian Capitals with Crystal Cruises
Best Vacation for Relaxation: European River Cruise
Best Adventure: Ecotourism in Costa Rica
Farthest Trip: Australia & New Zealand
Most Harrowing: Bus trip across Turkey
Favorite Country: Italy & Spain
Favorite Honeymoon Spot: Ours was in St. Martin/Maarten in the Caribbean
Educational Trip: Normandy & its WWII history
Favorite Cities: Venice, Prague, Sydney, Florence, Seville, Santa Fe, Arles

Where have you traveled most recently?

October 2016 – 4 weeks in Ireland & France

2-week comprehensive tour of The Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
Self-drive & Private tour guide
Paris 3-nights, Normandy 3-nights
Opera House tour. Private Normandy Beaches tour
1-week wine-themed Bordeaux river cruise
New Wine Museum, beautiful Bordeaux, food and wine all amazing

March 2017 – 3 weeks in Italy to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary

Rome, Florence, Tuscany & Venice w/ family & friends
Private, sunset tour of ancient Rome
Sunset vow renewal & catered dinner on Florentine Hotel rooftop
Tuscany private transfers, family-owned winery w/ lunch, Hilltop towns
Venetian shopping, exploring and quaint restaurants

March 2017 – 2 weeks exploring Northern Italy

Turino’s lovely architecture, museums, shopping, food & wine
Italian Alps, hotel w/ view of Matterhorn, dinner w/ hoteliers, snow activities
Lake Como, looking for George & Amal, private cooking class, lake tours, gourmet
Dolomities, black tie celebration, alpine splendor, snowmobile adventure
Venice, we love Venice and relaxing/wandering around here is rejuvenating

Next: November – December 2017 – 2 weeks Rhine River Christmas Markets Cruise

Amsterdam, 2-3 days exploring museums, canals & culture
7-day AMA Rhine River Cruise – Amsterdam – Basel, Switzerland
Daily stops at Christmas Markets selling everything Christmas, beer, food & wine
Post cruise extensions: Switzerland, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Berlin…(you choose)

Next: May 2018 – 7-night AMA Danube River Cruise w/ Pre & Post adventures

Budapest, Hungary to Vilshofen, Germany
Pre: 2-4 days in Budapest exploring the city, culture, 7 people, food & wine
Post: Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, Czech Rep….(you choose)

Future:
April 2018 Northern Spain and Portugal
September 2018 African Safari

Why shouldn't I use an online site to book my trip?

In the age of online booking sites (On-Line Travel Agencies [OTA]), using a travel agent may feel like going the way of the dinosaur.  But agents are more useful than simply selling trips to Disney World and cruises. Many agents still provide services or have knowledge that you just can’t get online –and sometimes, especially in times of crisis, working with a real live person is just plain superior.

Here are 10 reasons why they’re still useful:

1) They Are Educated and Have Personal Experience

Simply put, they know more than you. They can give you insider tips and advice, using their education and personal experience to guide your vacation decisions in a way that provides you with the best vacation possible for you and your hard-earned investment.  They have access to the personal feedback from hundreds of clients, and their own personal travel agent network, to provide insights you can’t get on TripAdvisor or other social media sites. 

2) They Have Clout

Many travel agents develop personal relationships with individuals at the companies they sell.  They leverage these relationships to get you things you can’t get on your own.   That “sold out” room or the connecting rooms you want for your extended family trip when the online sites say they aren’t available.  They also have exclusive entrée to experiences you might not know are available to you.

3) The Fixer

In addition to getting you more on any particular trip, they can step in and fix things when your trip goes awry.  The average consumer books one or two trips per year, typically with different travel suppliers, so they have little or no leverage when things go wrong. The travel agent is constantly selling a particular supplier and has the leverage to fix things, even when the supplier isn’t directly at fault.  Travel suppliers value the travel agent’s business much more than any individual traveler.  They will step up to make things right or simply to make sure that traveler, and their travel agent, are happy. 

4) Cost-Savings

The best travel agents have unique access to benefits that can save you a lot of money and provide you with a better experience:  free room upgrades, spa credits, food and beverage credits are just a few of the things that agents can get, that you can’t.  Add in hard-to-get restaurant reservations, exclusive or priority access to attractions, added amenities, and you will have a lot more value for your travel dollar. (Ever wonder why the couple in the cabin next to yours got champagne and you didn’t? They probably used a travel agent)

5) Time-Savings

Instead of searching blindly on the Internet for hours, days, or even weeks – depending on the complexity of the travel plans – you can have an expert do the research for you, with your personal needs in mind.  They do it for every component of the trip.

6) Safety Net

If anything should go wrong during your trip, you can rely on them to assist you.  A travel agent will suggest and arrange alternate travel arrangements, help you to deal with any travel emergency you may have, and put you in touch with the right local people to answer your needs.

7) On the Cutting Edge

They are on the cutting edge of what’s new: Travel agents are the first to know about a new resort, cruise ship or tour.  They have relationships with their best travel partners who keep them informed as to the latest and greatest offerings they have. So if you want to travel on the latest and greatest, agents are the way to go!

8) You Pay the Same Anyway!  

More than 98 percent of hotels are parity priced. That means the cost is the same whether you book it yourself or have the travel agent do the work. Some travel agents even have websites that feature the same inventory, bookable in real time, as Expedia and Orbitz. The customer gets the best of the high tech world, in a high touch, environment. This parity pricing applies to virtually every travel product. 

9) You Get Matched Right

If you call a cruise line directly, they won’t tell you that their competitor is a better fit for you and your travel needs.  Since travel agents sell everything, they focus on your particular needs, making sure you are matched up with the right.

10) An Ongoing Mutually Beneficial Relationship

A good agent is like a good mechanic. Once you find them, you’ll never want to give them up. Travel could be your biggest discretionary spend in any given year, along with your limited time, so you want to make sure it’s done right.  When they make that happen, you’ll want them in your inner circle moving forward. 

Fox News Travel – Mark Murphy – (minor edits)

 

“Ingrid’s Travel by Design is the best!  The personal touch Ingrid puts in her work is top-notch!  Everything is organized and planned up to the smallest detail.  From special access to venues, to personalized tours, and beautifully presented travel documents and itineraries, Ingrid makes you feel special and helps make any trip an exceptional one.  She puts her extensive knowledge on international travel and her own personal experiences to good use and when she recommends a hotel, a restaurant or a tour, you can be sure that it will be the best of the best.  She made my first international travel experience a memorable one.  Everything went smoothly and we had the best time ever.  When you travel, with Ingrid’s Travel by Design, you can be sure that you will have the time of your life.

 

LPO, San Tan Valley, Arizona

To learn how you can work with Ingrid and her team to plan your dream trip, please use our Contact Us page.