Plot Twist: From Travel Companion To Travel Advisor

As many of you know, I’ve been traveling quite a bit with Ben this past year, which has been unforgettable and dreamy, but I’ve slowed down in recent months and started work in the travel industry, a space I was familiar with before meeting Ben and now have a vast exposure and understanding of since meeting him. 

I previously managed an Italian eyewear startup based in Brooklyn and worked as a tech headhunter, but in both cases I didn’t feel passionate about what I did on a daily basis. Travel, on the other hand, is something I am passionate about.

I’ve always been a Type-A planner and enjoyed making travel arrangements for family, friends, and myself, so it seemed natural to become a Travel Advisor, which is really a modern term for Travel Agent. I prefer “Advisor” because I can add more value than a traditional travel agent and don’t currently wear a phone headset… who knows though, I may cave!

Headset screenshot
Thoughts on the best deal?

While I’m looking forward to taking advantage of some of the great travel industry rates that are available to me, my primary goal is to help you guys take advantage of great deals and perks that are just a few clicks away!

Therefore, I’m focusing primarily on hotel and resort bookings, where I can add the most value through my affiliation via The Travel Society with Virtuoso, an invitation-only travel alliance of nearly 1,000 luxury hotels and resorts in 80 countries. Many of you are probably familiar with (and may book travel with) American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, which I also book clients through in the event that their benefits are better than those offered by Virtuoso.

By booking with me through either of these programs, the standard benefits often include:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • $100 resort, spa, or food and beverage credits (which are especially valuable for short stays at hotels and resorts)
  • Confirmed early check-in and/or late checkout
  • Room upgrades when available
  • Free wifi

In the event the AmEx FHR benefits are better than those offered by Virtuoso, you may still enjoy booking with me (just shoot me a quick email!) rather than picking up the phone, dialing AmEx, waiting in a queue, and then spending 10+ minutes verifying your information, confirming rates, and booking your hotel through an agent. Perhaps I’m introverted, but I’d certainly rather send an email.

Booking with me through these programs won’t cost you any extra, as I earn a commission from the hotels and resorts. Even better, the room rates for these programs are typically the same as the best available rate, which makes booking through Virtuoso and AmEx a great value. Many properties also have special promotions throughout the year like 3rd or 4th nights free, or further add-ons like resort credits, guaranteed upgrades, etc.

In addition to having access to the benefits offered by Virtuoso and Fine Hotels and Resorts, the Travel Society is also connected with an array of hospitality brands that offer their own exclusive programs with benefits that are equally as good: Starwood Luxury Privileges, Rosewood Elite, Four Seasons Preferred Partners, Peninsula PenClub, and the Belmond (formerly Orient Express) Bellini Club to name a few.

A few titillating offers below… show, don’t tell – right?!

Starwood’s Tambo del Inka near Machu Picchu in Urubamba, Peru currently has a promotion offering a 3rd night free through Virtuoso, in addition to the standard Virtuoso benefits.

Tambo-Del-Inka

The W Bangkok, which isn’t a part of American Express FHR or Virtuoso, has some great benefits available through the Starwood Luxury Privileges program. The benefits include daily breakfast for two, a spa credit equivalent to $85 USD (goes a long way in Thailand, even at an American-branded hotel), and a room upgrade and flexible check-in and check-out times subject to availability.

W-Bangkok-1

W-Bangkok-2

These deals aren’t exclusive to uber-expensive hotels and/or leisure travelers, either. Business travelers going to Beijing, for example, can get a 3rd night free at the Rosewood Beijing through American Express FHR. The ordianry rate is ~$290 per night, so for a three night stay you’ll end up paying under $200 per night, and you’ll receive a room upgrade, breakfast, guaranteed late check-out, a $100 food & beverage credit, and more.

Rosewood-Beijing

The Four Seasons Preferred Partner program has more specials offers than I could possibly keep track of. The program currently offers confirmed upgrades at the time of booking at their hotels/resorts in Singapore, Shanghai, Nevis, New York, Chicago, Costa Rica, and Chiang Mai. 3rd night free offers are available at their hotels/resorts in the Golden Triangle (Thailand), Bogota, Chiang Mai, Prague, Baku, and Lisbon.

Four-Seasons
Current offers at resorts in Bahrain, Mauritius, and the Seychelles

As you can see, the perks and promotions vary widely and run the gamut of hotels and resorts around the world. If you’re planning on traveling, it’s always worth checking whether or not these benefits are available through Virtuoso, which I’m happy to assist with. It’s a no-brainer!

As I said, I’ve had some experience planning more elaborate itineraries, which Virutoso makes a breeze with a network of onsite contacts.  Want a private tour of the Sistine Chapel or dinner for two on the Great Wall of China? Both can be arranged through yours truly.

While Ben keeps me busy working on his round-the-world jaunts, I’d certainly love to hear from all of you, too!

You can reach me via email at fordb@travelsociety.com. Feel free to spread the word and pass along my contact info to friends, family, and colleagues too!

Thanks for your support!

Cheers,
Ford

Comments

  1. Think you need a few more million miles to be an ‘advisor’. Stick with the eyewear or headhunter title until then.

  2. I hope Ben told you he tried to do this a few years back but it ultimately didn’t work out for him to give both the service clients wanted and keep up with the blog. Hope you have better luck and he was able to pass off whatever knowledge he garnered. Looking forward to trying your services soon!

  3. Hi Ford,

    Is this program only valid for Americans or also people from other countries? Can it also be prepaid?

    Good luck!

  4. Nice move. Good luck with the new gig Ford. When I have plans, I will contact you.

    Also it doesn’t hurt to include the fact that booking through this network will still earn points in their respective loyalty programs.

  5. @ “Me” .. and your title is: Sad cranky first poster with too much time on your hands?
    @ Ford, good luck, turning hobby/passion into work is the way to go!
    One question though: ( being a passionate social media/marketing consultant) Why only an email adress, where’s your Facebook, website, LinkedIN … etc. etc. This would have been the perfect platform for some legitimate spam 🙂

  6. @ me — While it’s true that Ford doesn’t have as much experience as a travel advisor as you have as a troll, he has done a lot of travel, and even “travel advisors” need to start somewhere, no? You know, you don’t have to comment on everything. 😉

  7. @ David — Ford has been doing this for several months now. In that context he said he has “some experience” planning these types of itineraries, as he already has quite a few existing clients. Maybe you’re confusing what we do (in which case I’m flattered), but I review airlines and mostly chain hotels. That’s very different than what Ford is doing…

  8. So anybody can book through you and get Virtuoso benefits? I would need any of the higher end AMEX cards or any other special membership?
    Thanks

  9. First of all congrats on the career switch. As a virtuoso affiliated travel advisor myself, I would just caution that there is much more to this career then offering clients perks and amenities. Marketing yourself in this way, in my opinion, sells yourself short–as you are attracting clients that put a higher value to the free perks, than your knowledge and expertise–which is ultimately differentiates one booking channel from another…

  10. I don’t know why some of the other commenters aren’t happy that Ford has a passion for something he enjoys.

    Actually think Ford will be great considering he has great resources at his fingertips.
    I was just asking Tiffany for referral the other day. I will definitely let Ford have an opportunity at my travel business next time.

  11. @Alonso A. – For Virtuoso, you just need to work with an affiliated travel advisor in any country. For American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, you will need to have an American Express Platinum card in your name. Many hotels have prepaid rates that are steeply discounted, but they aren’t usually refundable!

  12. @Francisco C – yes that’s correct for Virtuoso benefits. For AMEX, you’ll need a Platinum card in your name for Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits.

  13. As an ex-travel agent who spent most of his 20’s in the business, I have a couple of thoughts.
    First off, the benefits are (or at least were) awesome. If you truly love to travel, this is a great way to do it in an affordable way. Use them. I’ve never regretted taking even the worst trip, while I do regret missing a few.
    Specialize. The mom and pop all purpose travel agency is a sadly dying breed, and has been so for a couple of decades, which is why I chose to leave the business. Niche markets, like what you’re doing, still have a lot of demand.
    Keep the customer first. This sounds like a no brainer, doesn’t it? I won’t bore you with the stories I’ve heard from coworkers and at industry functions, but suffice to say that I’ve heard a lot of stories where an agent or agency did what was best for themselves, rather than the client.
    Probably the most stressful part of being a travel agent is that you’re selling a product over which you ultimately have zero control. When things go to hell, and they will, you’re stuck trying to pull off miracles in real time with extremely limited resources. It’s incredibly gratifying when you can pull it off, and awful when you can’t.
    While I could toss lots more at you, ultimately, just do your best and have fun. Congratulations.

  14. @Ford – If you are working from home (or even a hotel room) frequently, I would suggest the Jabra 510 speakerphone. Headsets are nice and have their place, but you get tired wearing one for long periods of time. Trust me, I’ve done the 40hrs/week home office routine for 14 years. I only use a headset when I’m out and about, i.e. sitting in an airport, riding in a car, etc. See http://www.jabra.com/Business/speakerphones/jabra-speak-series/jabra-speak-510

  15. @ me — Ah, but that’s the thing. I don’t have a problem with your opinion, and I respect it. But at least make it either constructive or friendly. Have advice for Ford, or think he’s doing something wrong? Great, go for it, I have no issue with that.

    But what does it say about you if you’re the first person to leave a comment on a post telling someone they should “stick” to the title they had before? Did you miss the part where he said he wasn’t passionate about that, but travel is something he’s actually passionate about, and would enjoy?

    So I don’t think you’re giving much of an “opinion” when you tell someone you don’t know to “stick” to something they weren’t passionate about. And if that is actually your “opinion,” than it probably reflects more on your own life than someone else’s.

  16. Good Luck Ford. People are a pain in the ass when they book leisure travel, so I really do wish you the best of luck with them.

  17. Ford mentioned it being “invitation only.” Is that referring to the participating properties, or does that mean a membership by invitation is needed for consumers to participate?

    Thanks!

  18. @Garrett – great question! To clarify, it is “invitation only” for the travel advisors and agencies affiliated with Virtuoso. You can easily book by contacting a travel advisor that has an affiliation through his or her agency.

  19. Never really understood the hateful posts directed at Ford. If you don’t like what he has to say, don’t read it. If you don’t like the services that he’s offering, don’t buy them. He’s done nothing to any of you other than take Lucky off the market. Perhaps that’s the root of the hateful posts.

  20. @Ford thanks! I just made a booking through World Elite MasterCard to get FHR-like benefits. I didn’t want to use AmEx, so this would have been a great alternative. I’ll keep it in mind for next time!

  21. Best of luck in your new career Ford. I’m now well over the first BA review you wrote (as Ben says everyone has to start somewhere ;-)) and I genuinely hope that this is the start of a career you really enjoy.

  22. The quality of the post is excellent compared to Ford’s contributions in the past. It actually made me feel kind of wanting to try the service. The title is a little cheesy and out of character for the blog.

    Ford, so if we need a hotel in let’s say whatever city for a given set of dates, you would be able to email quotes for available properties ? Or is there a website you would need us to submit this info ?

    I am sure it is going to be difficult but if you get Lucky to review some of the properties that you have on offer, it will be a great value for all of us readers.

  23. @sud – thanks! Feel free to email me with your dates and preferred properties, and we can go from there. Hope to hear from you!

  24. @Lucky

    If his work is unrelated to yours then why is he selling himself on this blog? You don’t do it for anyone else so he must be truly qualified if you’re doing him this favor. Or maybe you just want to give your bf a leg up in the industry, which seems more likely. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with that if he’s actually qualified. But that dude’s written on here half a dozen times and he’s never struck me as anything more than a typical millennial overextending/overamplifying his limited skillset. But hey, I’ll give him this: he really networked you.

    “Me” kinda has a point too. And your passive aggressive responses are worrying. If Ford’s competency was beyond reproach then you’d have shaken him off as a hater. The fact that you got baited into responding speaks volumes, imo. Maybe in 10 years when Ford has some experience under his belt I’ll consider his services. But right now? Meh….

    Happy for you Ford, woohoo. But not trusting you with my itinerary just yet.

  25. To all haters: Let the guy work!!! He is not doing anything wrong and having someone you can discuss travel needs (in my case hotel bookings) is very valuable.
    @Ford: Hope this initiative turns into something way bigger. Best of luck and I will reach out to you when I need help booking hotels.

  26. Way to go, Ford! There are nay-sayers everywhere, in every profession. Great on you to go for something you’re passionate about and all the best of luck to you on this new venture!

  27. @ David — I get asked all the time for recommendations for Virtuoso advisors, and I’ve certainly promoted other Virtuoso advisors as well. See this guest post by Katie:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/12/04/virtuoso/

    As far as giving him a “leg up” goes, sure, I want him to succeed. I’m not sure how him posting here and saying what he’s doing (which is useful to many people looking to book hotels, by the way) is hurting anyone, though? Again, I get asked all the time for recommendations on Virtuoso advisors, and he’s offering his help here. He has several posts coming up explaining the ins and outs of these programs, which I think people will find useful as well.

    As far as me responding to the “haters” goes, I don’t think that’s it at all. Ford actually has a very thick skin, and the comments don’t bother him. But some of them do bother me. Collectively look at the comments he has received, and let me know whether you think that’s actually fair. Can you say with a straight face that many of those comments aren’t bitter and jealous?

    Actually you’re probably not the right person to ask, given that you’ve left a negative and non-constructive comment just about every time Ford has been mentioned on this blog.

    For the number of times you’ve said you hate what he writes, you sure do a good job at clicking on the posts written by him and commenting on them, eh?

  28. Congratulations. Great news. Keep writing your posts here too. You have a different but very endearing style when you write for the blog. I would consider using your services, but am very loyal to our current travel agent/advisor here in Sydney at Out & About travel. Still it always pays to have backup. Oh, and glad you have abandoned the blond phase. Everyone has to do it once (I speak from experience).

    Enjoy your new career.

  29. I’m happy that Ford is doing something he loves, and I’m glad that his relationship with Ben will help get him more clients. From the (potential) customer point of view, though, it does concern me that Ford’s advice won’t be up to par with that of others who contribute to this blog. Tiffany, for example, brough a wonderful fresh perspective to the blog: reasonable, funny, down-to-earth, and practical. But it’s all informed by years and years of travel. And although she’s your friend, Ben, I didn’t for a second think, “She’s only in business with Ben because of her close friendship with him.”

    Ford, however, didn’t seem to “earn” his first postings on this blog (not that this is a meritocracy); they seemed uninformed, oddly written, and a bit immature compared to what I’d come accustomed to reading here. And those impressions are still with me, so I don’t think Ford would be the first person I call with a travel request.

    I don’t mind that Ford gets to introduce himself and his new business here, but I would be disappointed if he became a regular contributor and the quality (including quality of writing) of his posts didn’t approve. That said, I would just skip those posts, and I wouldn’t feel the need to write nasty comments after each post.

    Perhaps a solution is to let Ford post several trip reports and other tips under your name, Ben, and then have a big reveal that says, “Guess what?! Ford wrote X, Y, and Z. And no one complained. So quit complaining about his perspective!”

  30. Let me try to put this dissent as eloquently as possible…I’m really happy that Ford has found a passion and I’m glad it’s something that you both share but it doesn’t qualify him to be an advisor or expert. Six months is just not enough time.

    Ben…how many years of traveling back and forth on red eyes in high school and posting on flyertalk did you do before you gained the credibility that you did?

    In other industries:
    In finance…sure the kid graduating from Wharton might be smart but he doesn’t get to face clients and handle deals for years until he’s learned the ropes, passed the tests and paid his dues
    In Medicine…there’s years of shadowing and residency before you start opening people up solo
    Or less seriously…in TV news…the reporter doesn’t just start out in LA, they start in Bakersfield where they can learn from their mistakes without 10 million people seeing

    Not that travel advice is life or death but when people are saving for a trip for years they come to expect that the person assisting them has more experience than a half dozen trips in the last year.

    I get the impression that this is a oh I like this, how hard can this be type thing and for people who have read your blog for half a decade that’s a bit of a slap in the face.

  31. @ Nick — That’s fair feedback, and I think maybe there’s a bit of a misunderstanding here. “Travel Advisor” is the generic term used for people in this profession, and everyone has to start somewhere. Will Ford be a lot more knowledgable in several years after he has booked thousands of trips? Of course.

    But there are tons of people who have career changes and get into being travel advisors. Most people don’t visit 100 countries and fly millions of miles before they get into this. They build experience over time. And the great thing about programs like Virtuoso is that they have onsites, who are experts in specific areas to curate special experiences.

    That’s why Ford is starting primarily with booking hotels, where the benefits are largely published. He’s not claiming to be an expert in any one specific region, though over time I’m sure he’ll develop more of a specialty in certain regions.

    But like with any career, everyone has to start somewhere. I certainly don’t think he’s claiming to know everything, but at the same time the beauty of these programs is that if he doesn’t know something, he can easily get in touch with someone who does.

    Hope that makes sense…

  32. @Lucky

    Don’t sell yourself short, Ben. I leave negative and “non-constructive” comments on your posts too. And the only reason you think they’re not constructive is because I don’t shape my comment in a way that coddles and preserves your feelings. You really are the product of your generation, aren’t ya? “Oh no this comment sounds mildly insulting. Clearly there’s nothing useful to take away from this!”

    Yea dude, everybody needs to start somewhere. But you debuted your clueless boyfriend not for his talent or potential, but for his willingness to date you (and we know that’s never backfired in the history of mankind). As for thick skin, every time you tell me that you and Ford have it, I believe it less and less. Maybe instead of constantly announcing that you have thick skin, you should just have it. But at this point I doubt you do; why else are your jimmies so rustled right now? Just move on, dude. My opinion of Ford is already set. Revel in the congratulatory comments instead. Maybe in a few years Ford will actually be competent enough to give me travel advice. When that day comes I’ll drop by and leave a kudos. You got my word on it.

  33. Woah! After reading this initially I was stoked! I read bens blog for help with airlines but really have no experiences with hotel/excursions other than tripadvisor. I jumped at using Fords services and have already been in contact with him regarding a trip to Sydney. If it works well, I will pass off all my other hotel arrangements. Being a AV nerd, I love the rush of finding the “perfect seat” but everything else I’m happy to pass off to a more knowledgable source. And I will totally vouch that Ford has been very engaging and professional with responses to emails.. And it’s only day 1. Thanks Lucky! Keep on, keeping on.

  34. Congratulations and good luck. I’ve been contemplating moving toward travel advising for years vs. my current career but generally speaking I’m just too comfortable with what I know vs. what I don’t. Nice to see someone take the leap!

  35. To all the haters, would you say that to Ford’s face in real life? Seriously, keep hidden behind your screen and spew your words of hate to make you feel better. Hope it works out!

    Ford – congrats on the career move! I’m in the hospitality industry and work with many travel agents/advisers, some of which are Virtuoso members, and most have been lovely to work with. Good luck with everything!

  36. Being a travel agent myself for a number of years and actually having learned the craft in a school and having a certificate and all that, I feel some type of way about someone calling themselves a travel advisor with no real “education” or experience so to speak. Especially the part about adding more value than a traditional travel agent irked me. I help my clients by registering them in bonus programs, helping them with their upgrade or giving them special fares they can only get through me. Not to mention that I (or my colleagues) have certain contacts that might give a customer advantages.
    Sure everyone needs to start somewhere and a good portion of confidence is always needed to succeed, so I hope you do well and actually put in the work. Good luck!

  37. @David –

    Finally a post that speaks the truth. Old lucky is of that mindless generation that feels everyone must agree with THEIR opinion, otherwise it’s not sound advice. Scary…the Bernie generation.

    Like I said, once the boy toy has 1M miles, he will have a little credibility (little). Going from recruiter to travel agent isn’t a big career move to say the least. Yep, glad he’s ‘working’, but far from an expert.

    Bravo David.

  38. From across the pond, this post just seems too much like an advert. Good luck, anyway!

  39. Ford, I hope this works out well for you. It’s great to turn passion into a career… Never feels like work. I’ll definitely keep this in mind for our travel planning. Your posts have really added a great perspective to this blog, and have been a great read. Congratulations on this next step!

  40. This is awesome! Congrats on the new career! I’ll admit I’ve never used Amex fine hotels and resorts or any of that but instead just stick to the usual hotel redemptions at SPG or hyatt or choice hotels.
    im not even sure how to make a booking with Amex FHR. Either way, as I continue to move up the ladder in my career and make more $$$ and can afford the Four Seasons or Aman resorts, I’ll contact you! Good luck again!

  41. Hi Ford,

    Congrats on the new gig. I use to work in travel many moons ago, and probably a good 95% + of the agents had never traveled, yet successfully sent clients all over the world. The most successful of these agents were those who had some luxury travel experience behind them, which you now have…so you’ll do just fine.

    I will give you a try at some point…and I ask others on this blog to do the same. We all had to start somewhere, this blog has been very helpful indeed to many of us who travel globally and so the least we can do is support each other.

    Cheers!

  42. Congratulations on the new career. I haven’t used a travel agent (advisor) in over 25 years, so I’m not sure whether I will use your services, but never say never 🙂

    If you are serious about looking for a headset, I use something similar to the second one. I’m not in sales, and don’t spend all day on the phone, but I like to be hands free, and using a speakphone in an office environment is annoying to my co-workers, so a headset it is.

  43. Ben, you really should have disabled comments to this post. I saw this coming as soon as I was a paragraph in.

    Ford, best of luck. It’s nice to (attempt) a living at something you enjoy doing. I do travel consulting as a side business, and if there’s any unsolicited advice I can offer, it’s to start narrow and acquire depth in a handful of particular places. I focus on Italy and send people elsewhere for other needs since I think I know what I do well, and know where I’d just be googling shit for people. Drop me a line if you need anything Italy-related. And don’t worry, the fact that I do this as a side business makes me horribly unqualified according to these comments as well. But you’ll never get any experience unless you try.

  44. If Ford was a wonan and Lucky was helping his wife jumpstart her career, none of you would say anything. Get a grip. This is 2016.

  45. Let’s give @me a little pat on the back for actually forming an opinion rather than blurting out one liners about women, minorities, gays, etc. Perhaps he suffered a concussion and is not quite himself today.

  46. So happy to hear this, Ford!!!! I am am AA 4.7 million miler and will hit my 100th country for the Traveller Century Club this year and I would happily let you book my hotels. You have a genuine passion for this and I think you will be GREAT at it. Ignore all the Negative Nellies.

  47. Good luck on your career path. Please keep us updated on the progress of your business as I am curious about hiring someone under my belt as a “travel assistant” to take some pressure off of my wife and myself from our various disconnected businesses. Would be interested in hearing about the financial growth of your business and the typical demand for your services in helping my wife and I to decide on whether we want to invest into a dedicated travel assistant to grow our services.

    Cheers!

  48. Ford, don’t let the naysayers discourage you. Just keep doing to best job you can. Looking forward to your series about Virtuoso. I’m going to e-mail you for my next hotel booking.

  49. Congratulations and best of luck!

    I liked the “show don’t tell” aspect and would love to see a few examples on a monthly basis. Where you can add extra value for me is point out deals that are much better than what is offered through top tier status . The Tambo dos Inka is a good example (it isn’t non refundable, is it)?).

    Good luck!!

  50. @Lucky: relax. The trolls can’t hurt you or your guy. The people you actually work for (yes you work for us, not for the revenue source), we who actually comprise your prosperous numbers, are supportive, admiring, respectful and loyal. You have created something here and it is 98% positive. Don’t lower yourself. I promise you, I guarantee you, Ford doesn’t need to see you taking the bait in here. You’re above that.

    The Fordbashers are here to stay. You came out and you guys decided to be public about your pairing. It was a courageous decision, but the best one, because you have influence. It drove numbers, it was true to the Pioneers’ spirit (from Harvey Milk’s lips to your ears) and it inspires others who are afraid.

    There’s a price and he’s called “me”.

    Stay on the High Road. When you want to write a rebuttal to “me”, do something else instead. Tell your guy you love him (and how you plan to prove it). Make a booking. Make a buck. Run around the block. Re-fold all the pyjamas and re-stack them according to carrier. Then, according to colour. Then, chronologically. I find this helps, in cases such as this.

    We’ve got your back.

  51. I think many people are forgetting that this is Ben’s blog and what and who he wishes to include in his enterprise is his prerogative. There are many other (equally successful and comprehensive) trip report, credit card, and travel blogs on the web. Don’t like this one? Go to those!

  52. I had no knowledge of the Luxury Privileges program although I’ve been in SPG since 1999 and LTP since it was introduced; so there is value for me in reading Ford’s post . I hope it works out well.
    I love reading this blog: I ignore all the credit card stuff ,any effusive praise of EK F , AA sundaes, cappuccinos…but really enjoy the rest.

  53. I have no problem with Lucky giving Ford a leg up (why wouldn’t he?). I also have no problem with his taking on “me”, who’s a hater.

    My problem is that he doesn’t take on enough of the other haters on other posts – or better yet, delete their comments.

  54. @Malc, sometimes it’s hard to define the line between constructive criticism and posts by actual “haters.” However, there are certainly some posts here with the likes of “me” that are consistently rude, prejudiced and juvenile. So I guess the line there is very clear. Unlike Ben, I moderate the comments on my travel site, but it can be very difficult when there are hundreds of thousands of posts daily…. so it’s not always practical for high traffic sites such as Ben’s. I guess he could create an algorithm that looks for certain words or phrases.

  55. I was looking for help with a hotel in Copenhagen so reached out to Ford by email after I read his post. He replied promptly with some questions about our requirements and then offered some great suggestions and advice. I still haven’t decided but appreciate his speedy help and would definitely recommend him.

  56. @ Jared

    Fair enough, I hadn’t considered the difficulty of finding them among the high volume of posts.

    But it is a problem. For a while I even stopped reading the blog because of them. I know I could have skipped the comments, but the interesting comments were one of the reasons I liked the blog, so I just felt the need to take a break. There really are some nasty people out there (and occasionally on here).

  57. I went away to see if my initial reaction to this post went away. It didn’t.

    This is one of the worst posts I’ve read in years here at OMAAT. And that statement has nothing to do with Ford.

    The thing I can’t ignore is that this is an advertisement, but it’s been passed off as something other than that. Lucky, if you want to allow others to sell services that have no business/brand relationship to your blog (@David nails it above) other than a personal connection. To present the post as anything other than that feels juvenile. We can see through this, so just call it like it is instead of trying to pass this off as content that is relevant to the brand.

    My guess is that @yyzgayguy captures the sentient for most of us: we support you because you’ve been providing great content for years. That support/loyalty just takes time to build and, simply, Ford hasn’t earned it.

    @Ford, a little advice per Lucky’s legitimate suggestion above: you’re going to have a hard time selling your service with statements that admit NOT using your service might come with fewer benefits from a hotel. Especially if you start the next paragraph by pointing out that you’ll get a commission if I do so.

  58. Sounds like a good idea Ford! Congratulations!

    How this change will impact on your relationship with Ben? Do you worry you will rely on Ben a lot?

  59. Awesome! The travel industry is undeserved. I bet Ford can provide some good deals.

    For all of you haters on here: what’s it like wishing you had a business and blog as successful as Ben’s? You wouldn’t promote your significant other? These two guys are living their lives as successful entrepreneurs while you’re wishing for a half day off. I get tired of being shit on as well for starting my own company and the people that give me the most shit are the ones that work for the man.

    @ford and @ben you guys should do some local US travel deals (preferably Phoenix, AZ!)

  60. First off – I don’t know anything about Ford (or Lucky) for that matter. But can put in a few words about using a Virtuoso/Four Seasons Preferred Partner/Dorchester Diamond/similar agent. There is absolutely no reason not to do it – especially when it comes to luxury hotel stays. There are always perks (although they vary property to property). For example – we’re getting an airport limo to/from our hotel in Madrid included in the price of our accommodations. The free breakfast you get at most properties (often available through room service – often available 24/7) alone is “worth the price of admission” – especially because the admission is free. And – in my experience – the base prices we pay are never more than those we would pay booking ourselves.

    We’ve used an agent like this for years. And it has been a rewarding relationship for both of us.

    About the only advice I would give to Ford is I think you need someone to help you out to do a great job. Our agent – like most – travels a lot – and is sometimes not available. But – when I am planning a trip – I often have to coordinate airline and hotel bookings in a very short period of time (especially if I’m booking airline reward or sale tickets). The agent we had before our current one failed us a couple of times because she worked “solo” and was unavailable when we needed her. So we found a new agent. Our current agent has a staff – and someone is always available to help us out when we need help. By the way – our agent lives on one side of the country and we live on the other. We’ve never met. Doesn’t bother me. At my age – I don’t need the kind of personal hand-holding/meetings I used to have with an agent when I was young. Phone and email communications are more than enough. Especially when we’re dealing with properties which are a third or halfway around the world from both of us. But the mileage of other people might vary.

    Finally – I don’t have any problems with a young person going into this line of work. But a young person does have to hit the ground running and get up to speed when it comes to luxury hotels. In terms of learning about them and developing relationships with them. I know a young man who lives in my area who graduated from law school – decided he didn’t much like the practice of law – and became an agent. He seemed very intent to make a go of it – and was working like crazy last time I spoke with him (in 2015 – don’t know how he’s doing now). This is definitely not a career choice for someone who isn’t willing to put in a lot of hard work. Especially because a lot of the clients you encounter are fussy. Like me :).

  61. Congrats on being Virtuoso! I happen to work for one of their preferred suppliers and Virtuoso advisors are really spectacular to work with.

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