Travel Agent, Travel Advisor, Destination Management Company, Travel Designer, Tour Operator…? Here is what you need to know.
What is a travel advisor?
While sometimes the terms Travel Advisor and Travel Agent may be used interchangeably, in many cases agents focus primarily on bookings, rather than experience design. They can book things like cruises, hotels, group tours, etc. through a wholesaler in exchange for a commission. In contrast, Travel Advisors across the globe have begun shifting their focus to more purpose-built travel experiences. There is a trend towards slow travel which incorporates elements of sustainability, cultural immersion, and boutique luxury both at home and abroad – sparking a resurgence of travel professionals in the industry with a passion for connecting people to experiences that make a positive impact on the places they visit. Travel Advisors and designers tend to have their own unique brand with a specific core focus and typically provide a turn-key itinerary to their clients.
There is more to this kind of travel than identifying a good accommodation and that’s where Travel Advisors’ partnerships with local DMCs (Destination Management Company) come in. Understanding the customs and traditions of a new culture from a local’s perspective can help you make the most out of your stay and allow you to have more meaningful experiences. While we are travel designers and work directly with our travelers, many Travel Advisors turn to Life Beyond the Room when they have clients looking for our niche travel design expertise which focuses on authentic, sustainable and immersive experiences and incorporates off-the-beaten-path destinations, away from mass tourism. Learn more about our Travel Advisor Services.
What is a DMC?
A Destination Management Company (DMC) is typically located in the destination they serve. Their primary function is to act as the broker between tour operators, accommodations, and travel professionals connecting local businesses and experiences to Travel Advisors who compile them into an itinerary. Typically, DMCs specialize in one region or country where they have their own staff who work closely with partners and vendors.
What is a tour operator?
Tour operators are typically locally owned businesses who specialize in a particular experience or service such as a tour guide or transfer service. They often partner with DMCs who connect them with travel advisors and ultimately to clients.
Where does Life Beyond the Room come in?
Life Beyond the Room began in a travel designer capacity as our founder, Karen (a native of Rome, Italy) began building experiences and itineraries for her Italian language students. This blossomed into a full-fledged travel company, providing turnkey concierge and itinerary services to people looking for more authentic and immersive experiences abroad. We spent years building direct relationships with operators, accommodations, and local partners to the point where we were operating much like a DMC, yet with the flexibility and attention to detail of a specialized Travel Designer. This means that we are not simply reselling a tour operator’s experience but rather we are curating it and modifying it based on the specific needs of each traveler.
Because we speak the local language, we were able to circumvent going through a DMC early on and found ourselves offering services to on-brand travel advisors instead! Since we have team members all over the world, including in the U.S. where most of our clients currently come from, we have the sensitivities of both cultures, thus providing the standard that a US traveler is accustomed to yet with the promise of authenticity that a country like Italy offers.
Our company is based in Rome and operates all over Europe, parts of Africa and Central America. We have employees in every region we travel to and even facilitate our own curated small group trips. This is a valuable differentiator as we are able to vet each and every experience and accommodation first hand as well as offer a main point of contact (Local Manager) available to our travelers during the entire length of their stay.
In short, we have the acumen and sensibilities of a travel advisor and the network and negotiating power of a DMC.
This combination allows us to offer the most authentic off-the-beaten-path experiences at the best possible value. Note – the designation “Travel Agent” is still used (and kudos to the incredible agents out there working at incredible companies!). We have found that “agent” can be considered a more dated title, as it’s sometimes associated with an archaic industry disrupted by the advancement of services and technologies such as Uber and Airbnb as well as by the awareness and desire of a different and transformative way to travel. At LBR, we work with travel advisors and agents who have clients seeking curated unique, authentic, and exceptional experiences!
Discover the difference by scheduling a free exploration call with one of our travel designers or checking out one of our curated small group trips HERE.