Beyond Travel Planning: How Advisors Handle the Unexpected
From handling tricky situations (hello, missing passports!) to dealing with all the uncertainty of pandemic-era travel, advisors can offer travelers service and human connection—and even chicken soup when they’re sick.
It’s a new year! And despite the continued ups and downs (we’re looking at you, Omicron), as we dive into 2022, we’re still looking ahead with hope. And that’s thanks in large part to the many great travel stories we’ve heard from within our own F1S family.
From amazing overseas adventures to bucket list trips to family vacations, our team and clients have safely explored the world and it has been nothing short of inspiring. Most importantly, it helps us remember the real reason we love to travel so much: For the way it expands our worldview and the connection it provides to those around us.
And since this pandemic period can feel like, well, the complete opposite of that (read: lonely, limiting), we wanted to kick off this year by shining a light on some of the most innovative ways our advisors help their clients—and truly enhance the travel experience.
Navigating Pandemic-Era Travel
You’ve got the specific regulations of the place you’re visiting down pat and handled all the requirements—and then the worst-case scenario hits: While there, you test positive for Covid.
It’s a road that F1S advisor Johnna Hiatt, who focuses primarily on entertainment travel, has been navigating with her clients for the past two years. Earlier on in the pandemic, for example, Johnna helped one client deal with some ups and downs with obtaining work visas and production shut-downs. And when that client tested positive for Covid right before leaving their destination and had to isolate in a hotel for 10 days, Johnna was there every step of the way. “They called me and I overnighted medicine, supplements, arranged for testing—and was their long-distance lifeline for the duration of their quarantine,” she says. She did the same for another client in a similar situation, calling daily to check in throughout their hotel isolation—and even having chicken soup delivered to their room.
“When my clients don’t know who or what to trust, they call me,” she says. It’s that deep sense of trust and being seen—not just as a client, but as a person first—that truly sets the advisor relationship apart.
“Part of my job is to help them navigate difficult situations, feel more confident and find their balance—which these days, can often be more critical than the travel piece,” she says. “It’s helping them know that they matter. That regardless of when and where they can call me about anything. That I care about them and am here for them.”
At a time when uncertainty abounds—and can result in feelings of isolation and helplessness—the personalized care and attention your advisor provides is as important as sending soup or medicine. And it’s something that extends way beyond just getting you from one place to another. It’s this connection, this focus on your wellbeing, both mentally and physically, that makes all the difference.
Helping Sort Out Unexpected Situations
The checklist of things you have to do before hitting the road is longer than ever. And then, just when you think you’ve crossed off each and every one you discover you’ve misplaced or forgotten a travel essential…like a passport. Nightmare situation, right? That’s similar to what happened to F1S advisor Stacy Weigant’s clients.
Fred and Audrey Guth were in Buenos Aires, and after a day of touring there, were about to board a flight for Ushuaia, the southern Argentinian city from which they’d embark on their bucket-list cruise to Antarctica. And then they realized their passports were missing. Unable to find them, they contacted their advisor and jointly made the decision to take the flight, hoping that a resolution could be found and they would be allowed to set sail to Antarctica with only copies of their passports.
“Stacy worked relentlessly to try to get an answer,” says Audrey—which turned out to be a yes. While on their cruise, the couple explored the region on zodiac excursions, spotted penguins and seals, and enjoyed the onboard spa. And behind the scenes, Stacy was using her magic to get the passport situation resolved.
“During the cruise, Stacy worked with a local onsite who assisted and we were in touch with the Canadian embassy to arrange replacements upon our return to Buenos Aires. She booked hotels and changed our flights so that we had time to go to the embassy,” says Audrey. “What could have been impossible to arrange from Antarctica was actually easy thanks to the great support of our advisor.”
Ultimately, everything worked out, with minimal cost and disruption, says Weigant—which is exactly why a travel advisor is so helpful in these types of unexpected situations. They can help sort things out behind the scenes and deal with the logistics so that instead of spending your limited vacation time stressing and trying to figure things out, you can focus your attention on enjoying your experience.
Curating New Perspectives
Scroll through social media and you’ll find so many beautiful travel photos staring back at you. We love that—but we also know, in the search for destination inspiration, it can feel overwhelming. (Not to mention that, at a certain point, it seems like all the photos start to look the same.)
That’s where an advisor comes in. Travelers directly benefit from having someone on their side who can sort through the noise and help them think outside the box in terms of where to go and why.
Case in point: F1S advisor John Rios’s clients told him that they wanted to go on more nature and animal-centered explorations. Once they explained what they were looking for, John began to brainstorm, drawing from his own decades-long experience in the industry and his established connections.
“Galapagos was one of the initial places to come to mind,” he says. “When I visited for the first time years ago, I found the destination to be one of the most authentic places to see wildlife in the world. And all the islands have their own unique topography and habitats, providing another dimension to the experience.” He also knew the region has had enhanced safety and visitor protocols in place for quite some time—a boon for pandemic-era travel.
Tapping into his extensive network for even more feedback, he says, “I knew colleagues who traveled to Galapagos with Relais & Châteaux and I got great first-hand insight from them,” he says. And he found that the Relais & Châteaux Origin & Theory expedition yachts, which offer immersive activities along with on-board amenities to be a perfect fit for his clients, who will be visiting in March.
And it doesn’t stop there: Down the line, these same clients will be visiting Africa, where they’ll head to Victoria Falls in Zambia and go on a hot air balloon ride in the Serengeti—all of which came through Rios’s suggestions.
The value of this insider intel is unparalleled: Not only did Rios listen to his clients and meet their needs, but at the same time, he was able to further enhance their experience thanks to his connections, giving—as any great advisor does—them a deeper sense of and connection to the place they were visiting.
Whether you’re looking for your first advisor or you have a trusted go-to, as you plan your next trip, let F1S and our team of advisors be your support system, your destination inspiration, and your safe landing.