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SMMCpreneur: Are Travel Agents Still a Thing?

Published on 11/2/2023

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By: Susanna Ask  |  November 2, 2023

The stars had aligned: my husband and I made friends with a couple we both liked; they have a kid the same age as ours; they want to go on a vacation with us; their PTO schedules aligned with ours; and all of us longed for relaxing days at a beach, with some adventure sprinkled in. 

I imagined flying to… where? … and staying in a nice, yet casual … Airbnb or hotel?... right on the water, where our kids could splash around as I finally returned to the sport I love most, kiteboarding. You’ve probably seen kiters riding beneath Golden Gate Bridge and at other locations around the Bay Area. It’s a totally thrilling sport, and though it looks intimidating, it’s actually something anyone can learn, from age 16 to 60. I thought perhaps I could even get my friends into it during our dream vacay. 

Thinking there could only be a few locations that have the right wind, water, and weather conditions, I started my search. But soon after a euphoric day-dreaming session, I realized there were too many variables in this equation. My hunt for the perfect beach, accommodations, flight schedules, and kiteboard school resulted in a thousand open tabs on my browser, but no decisions. I loved exploring all the possibilities: a remote island on Greece, a de mode visit to Sicily, a budget-friendly jaunt south of the border, etc. I searched while my baby napped. And after she went to bed for the night, I continued to search until 2am. Oops. The next day, I replaced my workout time with vacation planning time. I started to treat it like a job, with a spreadsheet and a list of survey questions for my friend. As I collected more and more data, my desire to continue digging into our options became overwhelming. 

As happens so often, I took to Instagram for refuge and inspiration (note: slight sarcasm in the previous sentence). Between pics of my friends living their best lives and women I don’t know doing makeup looks I will never in my wildest dreams attempt, I was served an ad to turn my love of travel and planning into a career. 

Travel agent? Me? As I reviewed the site, I felt a calling. I recognized that my obsessive trip planning was out of both necessity and passion. If I hadn’t been on maternity leave, I wouldn’t have had time to plan this dream vacation. I wondered how people plan trips at all while working full time.

I started asking around, and many of my co-workers reported stories of big dreams and complicated travel logistics. For example, our Product Manager was taking three generations to four different cities in Europe and wanted activities that would suit everyone. Naturally, he’d found a great software product to keep tabs on all the ideas but it still put the onus on him to research and maintain the plans. Our COO had to defer her honeymoon twice already and wasn’t sure when she’d ever have the headspace to make new plans. My neighbor’s daughter won a cruise trip, and she wanted to make sure she could book neighboring cabins on the same vessel but was overwhelmed by “cruise language” found on the operator’s website. 

Aren’t travel agents a thing of the past? Who needs an agent when you have Google? All the people I have mentioned appreciated the free services of a dedicated travel advisor, and so will anyone else who wants to offload the cognitive load of trip planning. Anyone who wants to ensure they are making the most of their precious time off, without sifting through endless internet trip reviews. Anyone who wants to feel like a VIP, with an advisor by their side, getting them free upgrades, resort credits, and more. 

My business is called Ask Adventure Travel, because I want people to know they can ask me for help in planning their next adventure, and also, Ask is my last name. What was initially a need for me to find family-friendly kiteboarding destinations is now a broader offering, serving everything from honeymooners to anniversary celebrators to family reunions and more. I have joined Fora Travel to leverage their extensive partner network and travel advisor resources, which means I am plugged into the latest and greatest hotels, deals, and honest reviews from experienced travel experts. 

It is this network I leveraged to finally decide on our big getaway: Lake Como, Italy. It has sun, great food, kid-friendly vibes, a kiteable lake, and some amazing hotels I would never have heard of (spoiler: I got us a free upgrade to a suite which made alllll the difference with a 1-year-old). 

I would love to help the mamas in our SMMC network get the vacation they deserve – and be able to relax a bit more in the planning process. 

P.S. Already booked your winter getaway? I can still get you free perks and upgrades, just *Ask*! 


Susanna Ask

More from this issue:

A Value of Service HERE >> 

Firewise Communities: The Power of Working Together HERE >> 

Gratitude for Our Bodies HERE >> 
SMMCpreneur: Are Travel Agents Still a Thing? HERE >> 

Sports Dentistry HERE >> 

Thanksgiving Care Packages for 75 Families in Need HERE >> 

The Power of Giving HERE >> 

Things No One Told Me HERE >>