Planning travel is hard, but it’s nothing compared to planning travel for others. Many travelers, myself included, are guilty of expecting mind reading out of their travel planners. We expect our travel planners to anticipate our preferences and needs to create seamless end-to-end itineraries. This already difficult task becomes even harder when you factor in the fact that many virtual assistants are working remote and have never even met their traveler. Fear not! The first step in creating itineraries is creating a traveler profile, and every traveler profile starts with a remote!
Review Traveler Information
Review your traveler’s basic information to make sure you have everything you need to make bookings on their behalf. Information in this section includes:
- Full Name (exactly as it appears on government issued ID)
- Email Address
- Phone Number
- Date of Birth
- Passport Information
Enter Traveler Preferences
Entering your traveler’s preferences is the most important step in creating your traveler’s profile. This section will allow you to rank certain choices and predict which your traveler will prefer. Flight, lodging, and ground preferences each have their own intricacies which are listed below.
- Preferred airlines: within these preferences, try to get your traveler to rank them.
- Seat Preference
- Preferred Class of Service
- TSA Precheck Number/Known Traveler Number
- Preferred Chains
- Room Type Preference
- Minimum Star Rating
- Preferred Vendor
- Preferred Mode of Transportation: rental car, ridesharing, or public transportation
- Car Type Preference
Manage Loyalty Programs
Manage your traveler’s loyalty programs to make sure they are receiving points whenever possible. As you learn more about your traveler and their loyalty programs, add their status to this section as well. This will help you decide which is the best available option. For example, if there are comparable Virgin Atlantic and British Airways flights, but your traveler has Gold Status on British Airways, you know to book British Airways.
Remember that preferences are always changing. Travelers may have a terrible experience with an airline and decide they never want to fly them again. Or they may have an amazing stay with a hotel and want to stay there every time. Keep track of these changing preferences by always debriefing your traveler after every trip. You can create a simple questionnaire to see how their trip was. You can includes questions like:
- During your trip, were there any problems with your flight, hotel, or rental car?
- Would you stay at this hotel again?
- Would you fly this airline again?
- Would you use this ground company again?
Establishing yourself as a safe and trusted virtual assistant is going to be a huge asset to your personal brand and business. Some admins and VAs store their traveler’s information in notepads or in Excel spreadsheets. This is not only inconvenient, but it’s also risky. Your clients and travelers are trusting you with their information and they need to know that it’s going to be safe. I recommend using a service like Last Pass or 1Password. These sites are great for creating secure, password protected, notes and even allow you to create a custom traveler profile form so you can easily add additional travelers and ensure you have all of the necessary information. Best of all, they allow for sharing between users. This means VAs can collaborate with each other or with in office admins to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Enjoy travel planning
Once you have created a complete traveler profile, you are ready to start creating itineraries for your travelers. Here at TRAVO, we truly believe that traveler profiles are the backbone to every itinerary and we have built our entire tool around making it easier for virtual assistants to create profiles and use them when planning trips. Not only are VAs able to securely store, share, and gather information in one secure location, but they are also able to immediately apply these profiles directly to their searches and have multiple separate clients in one profile. TRAVO could not be where it is today without the support from organizations like VIP VA and we want to thank the community in any way possible. Sign up for your free TRAVO account to start creating profiles and planning your next trip!
About the Author
Tae Lee is the CEO and founder of TRAVO, the trip planning and booking tool for administrative professionals. Prior to founding TRAVO, Tae served as executive vice president of Operations and Technology at the leading video advertising technology firm, ZEFR.