This fall my husband and I plan to do some traveling. We don’t have loads of money to book first class accommodations throughout the trip. There are, however, some secrets on how to manage to receive upgrades and get the star treatment.

How can such a thing happen before you even arrive? How can an upgrade at the time of booking happen? How can you score a free room-service breakfast throughout your stay? How can you receive the privilege of late checkout with no extra charge? And a complimentary spa package you say? Yes! It’s possible!

It’s all because our travel agent works for an agency that participates in a “loyalty” program and we reap the benefits! We don’t bother ourselves with keeping track of our miles and points in order to earn perks. That’s our travel agent’s job. With so many people booking their own flights, hotels, excursions and car rentals on line to save the ten or fifteen percent commission fee for a travel agent, they are also losing out on all the benefits that goes along with that service.

Most hotels and resorts happily engage in loyalty programs with travel agencies that generate clientele. And they reward the top producers by rewarding the traveling client. The traveling client in turn is then incentivized to continue to use the service of the travel agency.

Not all travel agencies operate on this level. To get the most out of your travel, book through agencies that are affiliated with high end travel clubs and resorts. Some of the perks and benefits you can potentially receive depending on the agency and travel clubs represented:

  • Priority status on upgrade waiting list
  • VIP welcome
  • Resort credits that could be worth hundreds of dollars
  • Guaranteed upgrade at time of booking or check-in
  • Free room-service breakfast for two
  • Credits for extra amenities such as a spa visit, a round of golf, or complimentary lunch
  • Early check-in and late check-out privilege
  • Meet and greet at airport gate

Aside from the perks and upgrades, the benefit of having an advocate in the form of a travel agent when you are away from home in a strange place is priceless. If my husband and I arrive at an airport in the northeast that suddenly gets snowed in, rather than rattle around the airport like a couple of crazies who don’t know what to do, we simply call our travel agent. We inform her of what has happened, hang up, and calmly wait for an email alert on our smartphone that directs us to a new gate at the airport. That’s it. All we have to do is follow instructions. We do not have to figure anything out.

If we arrive at our destination and something is not just right, we don’t have to argue with management about any misunderstanding at the time of booking or demand a refund or anything. We simply pick up the phone and notify our travel agent. Once again, we simply wait for her to do her magic. We are on vacation. We are not out and about to solve problems, but, rather, to escape them. Our travel agent is our problem solver so we can get on with the very serious business of having fun and putting the real world out of our lives temporarily. Our travel agent is worth every penny of that commission.