You might think “travel agent” is an occupation the internet nuked just as thoroughly as “video store clerk” and “newspaper writer.” But for all the travel you now buy online, do you trust Kayak to book you an underwater wedding, or ensure the hotel you’re staying at is stocked with your favorite beer? Nah, you know better. And that’s why travelers with discernment, with imagination, with refined tastes, or with requests they know are just flat-out bonkers still count on travel agents. (And you probably should, too. Here’s why.)
As concierges to the world, travel agents have seen their share of outlandish requests. We talked to our friends at the Travel Leaders Group — a top travel agency trade group — to round up some of the most impossible things their customers have asked for. And, naturally, the ways the agents made those happen.
Everything has to be just so
We recently had a request from a client for a cruise vacation. The only problem was that she would only cruise on a ship that had SlimFast on board. After extensive checking, no ship carries SlimFast.
“We once had a client that demanded Pepsi at the resort she was booked in. The resort only served Coke. We contacted a Pepsi distributor and they shipped a case of Pepsi to the resort for the client.” — Jan Stanczak, Travel Leaders, O’Fallon, Missouri
“I have a VIP client that absolutely refuses to stay in any hotel that does not carry Bud Light. There is no flexibility on the issue. I have to call any new hotels we are working with, always.” — Melissa Gutting, Travel Leaders, River Falls, Wisconsin
“I had a client make sure that I had Cuban cigars and cognac delivered to his boss’ tent while on his African safari.” — Jeffrey Krudop, Travel Leaders, Fort Wayne, Indiana
“A famous client, post-rehab, asked for 20 diptyque Baies scented candles, herbal tea, white floral arrangements, and a carton of Marlboro Reds to be in the room on arrival. The whole idea was to create a super-zen feeling in the room.” — Kim Reicherter, Tzell Travel Group, New York, New York
Impossible wedding (and proposal) requests
One fun trip was a marriage proposal during a total solar eclipse at sea. A once-in-a-lifetime dream come true. Just as the moon passed in front of the sun and the day turned into night, our traveler asked his love for her hand in marriage. The whole ship cheered when she said yes. Within minutes the sun was out again and Champagne was flowing.
“Another client wanted an underwater wedding in Hawaii. We arranged it at Disney’s Aulani hotel in Oahu. Aulani has a private snorkel pool with schools of exotic fish. There are several professional underwater photographers on the island who were happy to accommodate.” — Michelle Weller, Travel Leaders, Houston, Texas
“One couple wanted a James Bond-inspired treasure hunt for a wedding party as part of their pre-wedding activities. This included being on skis for part of the time in Chamonix, France. The treasure hunt took them to a monastery and a casino (like the Bond movie), and ultimately on to their dinner.
“For a destination wedding, we had clients request that the bride be ‘kidnapped’ before her wedding and be ‘rescued’ by the groom. The wedding was held at a charming hotel in Seville, Spain. As the bride was dressed and ready for the wedding, she was ‘kidnapped’ by ‘banditos’ and held in a hideaway until the groom could rescue her on horse.” — Kara Bebell and Harlan deBell, Tzell Travel Group, New York, New York
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