Meet Randy | The Family Travel Guy

Travel Blog + Travel Agency

The Family Travel Guy: Frequently Asked Questions

Please see below for frequently asked questions about The Family Travel Guy, booking process and more.

The Family Travel Guy is a brand that encompasses three main aspects including a travel blog, a travel agency and photography services:

Travel + Lifestyle Blog
My goal is to inspire people to travel better, travel smarter and help them find more value for their money along the way to fuel their wanderlust!  By sharing my experience, hotel reviews, destination guides, travel tips, and other content I hope to help you on any aspects of your own travel and spark you to travel (and also take your kids everywhere!)

I'm a big proponent of "Do Your Homework...Price is what you pay, Value is what you get", so I am always looking to find more value and extract any savings I can whether that comes in any of these forms or a combination of them:
  • Value-added amenities and benefits (especially for hotel stays booked through Virtuoso, Marriott STARS or similar to get free breakfast, hotel credits, late checkout and other benefits)
  • Using points/miles to help save on travel costs or get upgrades, lounge access, or similar
  • Utilizing credit cards perks to save time/money 
Some common travel themes and posts you'll see on the blog include all things Hawaii, Disney and California, so if you have plans or love any of those places, be sure to follow along on our adventures!

Travel Agency
The Family Travel Guy is a Sacramento, California based travel agency that offers customized travel planning, booking and related services that range anywhere from helping with family trips, multi-generational trips, weekend getaways, cruises, hotel stays, flights, packages, special occasion trips (birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, etc) and more!
The Family Travel Guy is an independent affiliate of MTravel - a Virtuoso Member, which is a well-respected travel agency with over fifty years in business and winner of many prestigious awards for travel service and business practice.

You can read more about MTravel (now owned by CTM), a Top 10 Travel Management Company nationwide, and their #10 ranking on the Travel Weekly 2019 Top 50 Power List.

You can see my Virtuoso Travel Advisor site here: The Family Travel Guy

I've always had a passion for photography and all of the pictures on this website were taken by me.

You can see more great photos and photo reviews of hotels, destinations, luaus and more at my photography website here: Photos by Randy or on Instagram where I try to post some of my best shots regularly.

Contrary to popular belief, travel agents advisors still exist!  I consider myself more of an advisor, as I help curate and advise clients on their travel plans and help advise them of the best possible value for their money.  I look at each trip as if I was planning on going myself and look at what I would want as well and how to get the best possible deal or value for my clients money.

The difference between booking through me or using an online booking engine is the personal touch and expertise I offer.  I feel I offer incredible value for clients who use my services.  Your vacation takes hours of dedicated research and planning to create a customized trip and see it through from beginning to end.  This is time and energy you don’t have to expend, and be able to utilize the resources of someone who has expertise in this field.  I am always happy to provide free consultations to make sure we are a good fit and answer any questions you may have.

It all comes down to personal touch. Your vacation is a personal experience and what’s going to make it exceptional is you working with someone that understands what you’re looking for and cares how it turns out. I have a vested interest in every single trip I plan and I want your vacation to be amazing. I want this to be an easy, stress-free experience for you. I do all the hard work to make that happen, and I make sure you get the best value available.

If you've been following the blog and my posts here, you've heard me mention Virtuoso Travel on more than one occasion and how my affiliation with Virtuoso Travel can help add tremendous value for your next trip, hotel stay, tour or cruise.  As a Virtuoso affiliated travel advisor I can help elevate every trip. I know how to get the best value for your time and money, and, thanks to my global connections, I can VIP you at hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and much more.

As a Virtuoso affiliated travel advisor, I work directly with a dedicated on-property contact and communicate your unique travel preferences, special requests, and any other things that may need coordinating - so you can relax and enjoy your trip!

There’s no such thing as the perfect vacation, but there is such a thing as the vacation that’s perfect for you, and the first step is deciding where to stay, how to get there.  Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a three-week sojourn, I can help you decide when and where to go.

Depending on the destination, dates of travel, budget and what components you are looking to book (flights, hotel, car, tours, etc) - I can advise of the best fit your travel needs, i.e., book a package with a 'travel advisor only supplier' that offers great savings, promotions and benefits, book everything separately, or some combination in between.  Examples of some advisor only suppliers include: Pleasant Holidays, Classic Vacations, Travel Impressions, Blue Sky Tours, BedsOnline, Journese and many more!

Virtuoso is the leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel, with more than 20,000 advisors.  Virtuoso partners with over 2,000+ of the world’s best companies such as hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more.  Virtuoso Travel Advisors use their personal connections and firsthand expertise to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, special values, complimentary perks, VIP treatment and rare access.

In a nutshell, Virtuoso is a travel consortium that is the largest and most luxurious of them all.

A travel consortium refers to an organization made up of independent travel agents and agencies that have joined together to increase their buying power, commissions, and amenities they are able to provide clients.  Consortiums are able to use their networks to negotiate with hotels, resorts, cruise lines, and other suppliers on behalf of their agent members. The resulting "preferred supplier" relationship benefits agency clients in the form of special amenities, upgrades, and special promotions not available to the general public.

Virtuoso travel advisors have global connections to make your trip better. When you check in, you’re a VIP and can expect exclusive amenities such as room upgrade on arrival, daily breakfast, welcome amenities, resort credits, early check-in/late checkout, spa treatment credits, special Virtuoso experiences and more!

Examples of Virtuoso Amenities include:
  • Preferred rates, special promotions and offers such as free nights, bonus credits and more
  • Room upgrades, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Food & beverage credit or Hotel/Resort credit or Spa credit
  • Early check-in/late checkout, subject to availability
  • Special Virtuoso Promotions or Experiences

Other great value-added hotel programs that I can offer you great value include Marriott STARS, Marriott Luminous, Hyatt Prive (coming soon!), Kiwi Collection and more!  I can also help with all other hotel chains like Hilton, IHG, LHW, Preferred Hotels and others to help find the best value for you (some may be a part of the Virtuoso hotel collection or have similar value added programs you may be unaware of).

For cruises - there are great Virtuoso amenities and promotions on all of the major cruise lines including: Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Holland America, Cunard, Avalon, Celebrity, Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection and many more!  Virtuoso amenties may include special pricing and promotions, onboard credits, speciality dining, spa credits and more!

As a Travel Advisor - I have access to Virtuoso hotel amenities, Marriott STARS, Marriott Luminous, Hyatt Prive (coming soon!), and other great deals available from Cruise Lines, Tour Operators, On-Site Suppliers, Airlines, and other advisor only suppliers such as Pleasant Holidays, Journese, Blue Sky Tours, Travel Impressions, and many more!

I do not charge fees, unless you are looking for a Custom Itinerary that may require lots of time and planning.  I would inform you upfront if this applies.

Hotel Bookings - The Family Travel Guy does not charge fees for hotel only bookings or similar bookings.

Package Bookings - The Family Travel Guy does not charge fees for package bookings, which may include a combination of flight, hotel, car, activities, and tours.
Custom Itinerary - The Family Travel Guy may charge a planning fee for custom itineraries or a custom itinerary design that involves multiple destinations, flights, hotel stays or very large groups.  Upfront fee and pricing would be disclosed if and when this applies.

Since I don't charge fees, you may wonder how The Family Travel Guy is paid or compensated.  All compensation and commission is paid by the travel suppliers used to book trips, hotel stays, cruises, etc.

Commissions are already built into the prices you see online and I see from suppliers, whether they are public rates or advisor only access rates.  Depending on the type of travel, commission can vary anywhere from 5-8% to 10% or higher.  These commission levels all depend on a variety of factors that may include overall sales, supplier relationships, preferred suppliers, and other similar metrics.

Also, I think it is good for you to know that the travel agency business is not my primary form of income and I do not rely on any money made from the business.  The Family Travel Guy and my travel blog is a passion and hobby of mine that has continued to grow over time, which I am very grateful for.

What this means for you is that you can rest assured that I am not advising you to book a particular trip with a certain supplier just so I can get more commission or meet a sales goal.  I truly have the clients best interests in mind and research every trip like I would be traveling myself.  I may even advise you to use points, miles or similar (companion pass, credit card travel portal, online booking engine, etc) to book a portion of your trip to help you save on costs or get a better value for your money.

Trip planning can be as hands-on or hands-off as you'd like - If you know exactly where you want to go and when and are just looking for the best possible value - I can certainly help!

If you have an idea of where you want to go, but needs help, advice, recommendations and more - I can certainly help!

In other words, there is no trip too small or big that I can't help and try to find the best possible value for your time and money!

In most cases, the planning & booking process would go like something like this:

Step 1: You would reach out to me via phone, text, email, Instagram, Facebook or whatever works for you with your trip request, hotel request, cruise request or similar with where you'd like to go, when you'd like to go, approximate budget, traveling party size, etc.

Step 2: Within 24 hours (more likely less), I would respond to your inquiry and request more information (if needed) and get you the information you are requesting and looking for.  If needed, we would exchange more information as necessary.

Step 3: When you are ready to book, I would send over an authorization form to get the necessary information to confirm/reserve your trip which may include, names, credit card information, billing address and anything else needed to secure the reservation.

Hotel Only Bookings for Virtuoso Hotels (or similar such as Marriott STARS/Luminous):
In most cases, Virtuoso or (Marriott STARS/Luminous or similar programs) rates are the same as the 'Best Available Rate' that you see online.  This means that discounted rates such as member only rates, advanced purchase rates or other special rates would not apply and include the special value-added amenities and benefits.

Depending on the Virtuoso rate (or similar program rate), you could be getting a great deal and more value for your stay with the benefits and value-added amenities.  Sometimes there are other special offers such as 3rd night free, 4th night free, bonus credits, etc, but this all depends on the hotel.

All reservations are made directly with the hotel and any charges to your credit card will be directly from the property.  In most cases you will hotel points and get night credit toward hotel status.  Standard cancellation policies also typically apply.

For any hotel bookings made with 'wholesale suppliers' or 'advisor-only suppliers', the above may not apply and I would inform you of that if it applies to your trip.

I can help you plan and book any type of trip, but would say I specialize in Hawaii, Disney, Mexico and California, so if you are planning a trip to any of those destinations, chances are high I can find exactly what you're looking for and help you maximize your time and money!

I also do a fair amount of hotel only bookings as well that include Virtuoso hotels, Marriott STARS/Luminous and others, so can help you book a weekend getaway or a short hotel stay as well.

And if you're looking for a cruise trip - I also help clients book a lot of cruises including Disney, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

I believe it helps to have traveled to a destination in order to provide recommendations and expertise.  I have been to all of the Hawaiian Islands on numerous occasions and can recommend the best hotel your trip!  I have either stayed at or toured every 4 and 5 start resort on each island and can recommend the best fit for your budget, location and what you're looking to do while on your trip.

While we travel a lot to Hawaii, Disney (Disneyland, Disney Crises) and within California, I have been to Europe, Costa Rica, Fiji, India and other domestic destinations like New York and am familiar with the best hotels to stay at in major cities around the United States and throughout the World.

While I am more than happy to help and advise the best strategy to use for your points or miles, I can't help actually use them to help you book a portion of your trip.

I personally use points, miles, credit card perks and similar program to save on my own travel costs and am very familiar with most major airline programs, credit card points programs, hotel programs and can help advise you on how to get the best value out of your points and miles.

And if i can't help, then I am sure yo can find the best way to use your points by checking out an article on The Points Guy website.

Please feel free to contact me with any travel request and be sure to follow along with me on my travel adventures via social media and my photography website!

You can find me on InstagramFacebook or Email me to learn more or plan a trip!

The Family Travel Guy is an independent affiliate of MTravel - a Virtuoso Member, CST# California: 2129700-40
All photos on The Family Travel Guy website are my own and taken by me (unless otherwise noted in caption)

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