When it comes to travel, Keisha Gholston knows the ins and outs.
With 25 years as a travel agent under her belt, Gholston values loyalty with her clients above all else. As a travel agent for Global Travel Services Inc. out of Tupelo, Gholston strives to give her clients their perfect trip. Whether it be for regular travelers or those seeking to book their first big trip, Gholston is eager to share some quick tips looking to venture out into the world.
What is travel looking like now?
I’d say it’s starting to pick up speed again. Because a lot of the restrictions for traveling places are getting dropped, people have been encouraged to travel again. It’s really boomed back this year, and it’s a promising start to a big travel year.
What does a big travel year look like for you? Is it different then how it used to be?
So, we are seeing very large packages being booked, whereas in the past, things might have been more of an average size. But now, we’re seeing people booking much more expensive trips, with many trying to do some bucket list trips.
Why do you think that is?
It might be because people didn’t travel for two years, and having been cooped up for so long, they are just ready to get out and go. Or it may be because they’re just seeing the importance of going and enjoying a vacation versus having regrets that they didn’t get to go at all.
Do you think these bucket list trips will be more of the new norm now?
I think so. For a time, anyway. I think people don’t want to take these trips for granted anymore.
As a travel agent, how would you normally get your customers started on planning a big trip or a lengthy adventure?
There are several qualifying questions to get a client started. For example, we will ask whether you are a beach person or more of a scenic route type? Are you more on the go, or a sit-back-and-relax kind of person? Then, of course, we like to find out what kind of budget we are working with.
Those are just a few, but depending on the qualifying questions, we can map out certain trips that will work for each customer or group.
Do you have any tips for traveling right now?
Book early. That’s the biggest one. Don’t go without hotel reservations or without any tours pre-booked, because you’ll get there and have your feelings hurt.
How early is early?
Six to nine months. If you’re planning on doing a trip out of the country or a honeymoon, etc., you’ve got to start early.
Why do you need to figure it out so early?
You’ve got to book early because airfare sells out for one. For you to get the seats together or get any type of hotel or flight deal or special, then booking early is a must.
What are some ways to save money while traveling?
There are always ways to cut costs. It’s just going to come down to how long you want to be gone for and what’s most important to you on your trip.
There’s a lot of different ways to still save money, especially when it comes to where you’re staying. Just the location can save you tons, and sometimes even get you an extra night for the same price. For example, a three-star hotel versus a five-star hotel. Or figuring out how much time someone is going to be spending at their hotel?
On top of that, are they considering using the hotel amenities like the spa or are they just looking for a place to sleep? Do they need a beach view, or would garden be fine? It all relies on what that person is willing to spend or part with.
So, it seems like you really tend to take the stress out of things.
Yes, we can definitely take the stress out of travel. We like to say without a travel agent, you’re on your own, which sometimes means spending hours taking care of a problem. But if you book through a travel agent, they’ll take care of those problems for you.
What do you think people have taken away from these past years where travel has been restricted?
I think the pandemic has taught people to realize that life isn’t certain, and that one day, it’ll be too late to take a trip like this. So, I think people are taking these big bucket list trips in order to make lasting memories with friends and family.
People aren’t taking their time for granted anymore, realizing it’s better to go ahead and go while their health is still good.
Photos by Thomas Wells