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Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a luxury advisor?

We specialize in becoming experts in your preferences, travel dreams, and long term travel plans. Each proposal we make is completely different depending on the client’s desires – there are no “stock” trips!

We also eliminate the headaches and time you would spend comparing endless options online for your destination.  We also have strong networks and longstanding relationships with the best travel providers all over the world, giving our clients access to the best guides, drivers, and travel experiences.

Thanks to these relationships, many of our preferred partners provide amenities for our clients, such as a complimentary breakfast, credit for the spa, or an upgraded room if available. Finally, we will monitor your trip while you are traveling, and assist with any unexpected “bumps” you may experience along the way!

If agencies are paying commissions why am I paying a fee?

Our Plan to Go Fee covers the many hours spent communicating and working with our preferred partners on your behalf, reconfirming & VIPing upcoming stays with suppliers prior to travel, and emergency/urgent support during your trip. The cost for this fee is covered by commissionable components in your trip (most hotels), and 15% of any non-commissionable costs.

Non-commissionable costs include:

  • Negotiated (“NET”) rates provided to us by suppliers in customized trips. These are unpublished rates not available to individual consumers, but we pass them on to you.
  • Occasional smaller components, such as B&Bs, private transfers, or train tickets

We do not apply this fee on top of commissionable components. These traditionally include most brochure tours, cruises, or hotels. We also do not apply it to the cost of spa services, tickets, or concerts (time spent researching and booking these will be billed at an hourly rate).

This model is no different than traditional travel advisor compensation models; instead of a travel management fee, a hidden ‘mark up’ is typically built in to total costs in other business models throughout the travel industry. We believe in transparency and trust, and are committed to sharing how we are compensated with you.

We are professionals and our time is valuable

We believe in being compensated for the time spent working with our clients while we plan a trip that perfectly suits them. As the COVID-19 crisis showed us all, having a professional travel advisor is indispensable in a world where openings, closings, and definition of the ‘new normal’ is constantly changing. We want to ensure we are dedicated to giving your trip the full attention it deserves.

That said, we are also real people, and want to develop strong working relationships with our clients. We want to know about your families, if you have a fun story to share, and chat about the weather – these sorts of things will be ‘off the clock’.

We pride ourselves in charging fairly and earning client trust  just as much as we want to be fairly compensated for the time we spent communicating and working with you on your trip.

Who processes my credit card?

Trips & Ships Luxury Travel only process your credit card retainer and planning fee only.  Your credit card will be processed through the travel vendor in the majority of cases.  Some international vendors require cash wires.

What about air?

We partner with an air concierge service for expert flight research and pricing; with this service you’ll receive management of schedule changes and 24-hour monitoring and support during travel for an additional, reasonable fee.

Our clients may also choose to book airline tickets themselves.

We also arrange and manage private aviation, and are happy to provide a quote based on your needs.

Do you price individual components and give line item invoices?

Whenever possible, we break down prices for you to see what the individual components of a trip will cost during the proposal. This allows you to decide what components you may want to keep, and where you’d like to pare back.

However, many of the world’s best tour operators negotiate confidential wholesale rates with their individual suppliers, and are contractually unable to break down costs for us when pricing a customized touring itinerary. They are more than happy to tweak the initial touring itinerary based on budget or desired pace of travel, but they cannot legally share the individual negotiated rates of tours, drivers, or in some cases even hotels, with us.

Despite this, we vet our suppliers thoroughly, and only work with those who we know are committed to negotiating fair prices for incredible experiences for our clients. While we know it’s frustrating not always to see the price of every item (we can’t see it, either!), but this has become the industry standard.

How do deposits work?

YES. Most of the trips we work with are large trips that require a final, nonrefundable payment several months prior to departure. It is too big of a risk, especially in this day and age, not to purchase insurance to cover your investment. From Zika to hurricanes to the terrorism attacks to unexpected earthquakes and volcanoes erupting, there have been so many completely unforeseen issues that have arisen in the past few years that are covered only if insurance has been purchased. We are happy to give you a quote through our preferred agency, but you can also book through your preferred insurance provider – the important thing to us is that you are covered.

If you decide not to cover yourself with travel insurance, we will ask you to sign a waiver stating this.

Will you help me during travel?

We are here to help!  Please contact us if you have any issues during your travels and we will do our best to support you and resolve any issues expediently. We will also arm you with local in-country contacts such as your hotel, tour operator, or guide (if applicable).

Do we book airline tickets

Let me start with a spoiler alert: air ticketing has a lower profit margin for travel agents compared to just about any other segment of booking travel. Though some airlines offer travel advisor  commissions upward to 3-12% (I’m majorly ball-parking this number, fyi) for business and first class tickets, other airlines and most coach tickets offer zero commissions. It depends on what airline/route/class of service you’re booking (and a whole lot of other things).

We charge the following service fee for booking airline ticket

What budgets do you we work with?

Budgets vary greatly depending on where you are going, number of days, how active you want to be, and whether any touring is done in small groups or privately.

Not including airfare, most of our full-scale North American (Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Caribbean) weeklong trips for 2 people start around $7,500 and our international trips (normally ~10-12 days) start at $12,500.  We find that these are the rough starting points from which we can  provide the most value to your trip and leverage our highly vetted luxury travel partners.

Will you help me book frequent flyer miles and points?

We no longer assist with booking with points & miles; this is simply not our area of expertise. We do work with several third-party frequent flier experts that we are happy to refer you to if you are interested.

Does Trips & Ships Luxury Travel book Airbnb?

We offer a collection of villas around the world that have been vetted by industry professionals.

We do not deal with consumer to consumer airbnb, vrbos or home rentals consumer as they don’t meet our vetting process.

what is the booking process?

The amount of time it takes to plan a trip from Discover Call to Booking of the last component depends on a variety of factors, including how far in advance of the trip you’ve contacted us, the complexity of the itinerary, how many suppliers we are coordinating with across the globe,  as well as any tweaks you decide you’d like to make to the initial proposal.

In general, it takes 7-10 business days after the initial Discover Call for us to complete a fully customized itinerary. After the proposal is delivered, we ask that you review and respond as soon as you are able to thoroughly review, in order to prevent the space and itinerary concept from being booked.

Please note that, while we always try to stick to our estimated delivery date,  there are events out of our control that may result in a delay (an emergency from a currently traveling client, for example). We ask for your understanding when the need to take a few more days arises.

Is it important to book in advance?

We LOVE advance planners! Even if it’s a year out – feel free to reach out! Many of the world’s most alluring destinations – including Africa, Patagonia, the Galapagos, New Zealand, and Australia  – are often booked up 12-15 months in advance, as are December & January holiday vacations. If you are planning for a milestone celebration – a 50th birthday party that takes over a hotel, for example – 18-24 months is a good time to start thinking about traveling.

We find the “sweet spot” for booking a typical annual vacation is 6-9 months in advance. This way, we can ensure you have the best guides, space in the hotels you want, and – if desired – those hot restaurant reservations.

In order to make the trip planning process most efficient, we do ask that you “kick off” the trip process only when you are ready to book. We are happy to discuss “ballpark ideas” to help hone in on a specific destination, but if you are not ready to proceed with  booking the trip and a proposal “goes stale” (usually ~1-2 weeks after it is delivered), we then have to start the process from scratch, and often lose valuable space, the best guides, and have to rework logistics. For this reason, you can rest assured that we share your enthusiasm for finalizing details as quickly as possible, to make your trip as magical as possible!

Last minute bookings

It never hurts to ask….and we have helped many a last minute planner! Though our consulting rates are higher for inquiries that are departing within 2 months (and rates for hotels/flights/cruise lines are often higher at this point as well),  we are happy to discuss your needs to see if we can assist.

We only ask that you commit to being decisive, responsive, and enthusiastic about finding a great option that will work! We, in turn, promise to get you the information as fast as we can, and find the best availability for what you are looking for.

December and holiday bookings

Yes, of course! However, please be aware that due to decreased space and difficulty finding availability closer to the space, we do have an increased rate structure for these inquiries.

December Holiday Planning Fees: All bookings between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3 are considered holiday bookings, which is the busiest time of year to travel.

  • If you book between May 1 and August 30, our Research & Design fee is $625 and our hourly fee is $125/hr, regardless of destination. 
  • Due to lack of room and flight availability, we typically do not take holiday bookings after September 1.
At stage should you call us in the process?

There’s an old saying in the industry that says, “Travel advisors should be your first resource, not your last resort.”

We operate best with all cards laid on the table during the initial call, so we know how much research you have already done, what advice you’ve received from your friends, and any other useful pieces of information (such as, you originally were going to plan the trip on your own, but have hit a roadblock after booking one hotel and international flights).

While we can at times smooth out partially planned itineraries, our best partnership with clients come when the itinerary is created from scratch at the start, using  input given during a Discover Call. Let’s put it this way: you wouldn’t want to hand over a self-built car frame to a factory and ask them to finish it up and put their logo on it, would you?

I need white glove, concierge services to help me with the finest details

If you would like assistance with extensive restaurant reservations and recommendations, show tickets, spa appointments, etc, we are happy to assist at an hourly rate of $125/hr.

With our connections worldwide, our clients have enjoyed front row seats at the French Open Finals, Centre Court at Wimbledon, tickets to a sold out Bruce Springsteen concert, and orchestra-level seats to Frozen on Broadway, and more. There are situations when we have been able to get clients into sold out events and restaurant reservations; however, booking with enough advance notice have the best chance of finding a space.

Please note that while we are more than happy to share our restaurant recommendations with you, the restaurant scene in many cities changes by the month, not to mention, our clients (and on the ground reviewer’s) tastes are all different! While we share our best and most up to date knowledge, we cannot be held responsible for your tastebuds.

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