Without the slightest doubt, on our recent week-long trip to Italy, had we not been accompanied a by a tour guide, a translator, a driver and a jack-of-all-trades problem solving travel agent, we’d have been in trouble. Best part? It was all one guy.
Joseph Bernardini, owner of Livonia Travel Services, has been arranging tours for Detroiters since 1978, anywhere in the world, and especially Europe and the Caribbean. But Italy, in particular, is his specialty.
“Italy is a natural for Livonia Travel,” he points out. “I speak fluent Italian, thanks to my Italian born parents, and over the years, I have developed enough relationships in Italy that I can get nearly anything accomplished in terms of a specialty tour. You tell me what you’re looking for, and you are there.”
As an Italian connection, Bernardini is irreplaceable, and his considerable expertise in finding flights and charters is the sort of human touch that is lost on tourists who insist on a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to travel arrangements.
“We do charge for our services, no doubt,” says Bernardini, “but I will disagree that simply signing onto the internet and arranging your flight electronically is the cheaper way to go. I think most studies prove this out: the airlines have begun to take advantage of this mind-set. They’ll list commercial flights, for example, but they won’t tell you about, say, charter flights to the same destination. At Livonia Travel, I am very conscious of your pocket-book and can snake out the best way to go. Plus, the web will never be a problem-solver in the way that a hands-on, professional travel agent is. Run into reservation problems on-line and you’ll be relying on airline personnel to bail you out. My experience is that most of the really with-it airline people have left for other industries.”
Whereas most travelers are not fortunate enough to have Joe Bernardini in tow physically, some of the hitches he solved for us in Italy, on the spot, would have been handled equally quickly by a phone call to him back in the office. “No matter where I am, part of my job is to anticipate potential hiccups in a schedule, and to fully understands the needs of a traveler and make logical decisions based on that.”
It’s been a rough decade for travel agents, but Bernardini sees the pendulum beginning to swing back as the search for the lowest fairs and most advantageous tour schedules becomes increasingly more complex. “The airline business is a knowledge game,” he smiles. “The more you know, the better you’ll do.”
As far as we’re concerned, it’s easier, more convenient, and ultimately cheaper to have Joe do it for us.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Livonia Travel Service
29225 West Seven Mile
Livonia , MI 48152
Tel: 248-478-5800 Fax: 248-476-7401