With travel arrangements just a click away, why use a travel agent? Actually, there are plenty of reasons a travel agent can help you plan your next trip. The first would be that you’d benefit from the wealth of experience of Irene Emmons-Perez owner of Global Express Cruise and Travel. She’s been helping people in Olympia actualize their travel dreams since 1968. Those were the days when Capital World Wide Travel had a brick and mortar office in downtown Olympia and later added a second location in Lacey where you’ll now find the Fred Meyer gas station. Home computers were not part of the travel planning landscape.

sunset air“People are pretty savvy,” noted Perez. However, her business is not about booking your round trip airfare, but rather identifying and booking cruises and tours that fit your interests, ambitions and budget. You’ll get more inside information about hotels and car rentals. Travel agents can offer upgrades, bonuses and special offers that come through their suppliers and relationships with others in the travel business.

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Irene Emmons-Perez uses the computer to make travel arrangements but also talks to her clients over the phone.

Then there’s the time issue. Personally, I’ve spent hours shopping online for a hotel for a single night. Even when I finally book one, I really don’t know for sure what it will be like until I arrive. Ever heard of glamour shots? Millennials, who were raised with computers, are using travel agents with increased frequency. They appreciate a knowledgeable professional helping them with important vacation decisions. Time is saved and there is no frustration that sometimes comes with DIY travel planning.

Irene had been in the United State just two years when she entered the travel business at the age of 23. Growing up in the Netherlands, she studied languages in school including English, German, French and Dutch. At that time, travel agents were the intermediaries for airlines, cruise lines, hotels and tour agencies. You needed a travel agent to get plans set. All the arranging was done by phone. Nearly 50 years later that boggles the mind.

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Irene and husband Roberto Perez, (co-owner and friendly face at Los Tulenos at the Olympia Farmers Market) enjoy each other and their own travel adventures.

As the years rolled by, travel evolved. When the economy took a downturn in 2008, people were left with fewer travel dollars. Carolyn Howard, owner of Capital World Wide Travel, transferred the business to Irene. Five people continued to work at the Lacey location until 2011, when the building was sold to Fred Meyer. At that time Irene decided to continue the business from home. Work partner Lucy Renwick stayed on through all the changes and continues to work from home as well. Renwick likes to assist large groups with travel plans and also manages corporate travel accounts.

Both Emmons-Perez and Renwick have earned the designation of Certified Travel Consultant (CTC) from The Travel Institute. They are part of the Western Association of Travel Agencies, a group of independent travel agents who work together as a marketing cooperative. This is one way that using Irene or Lucy’s services can save you money. They have been building relationships with their clients so service is personal and absolutely tailored to their needs.

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Irene’s first hand travel experiences benefit her clients. Irene and her husband Roberto loved Italy. Photo courtesy: Irene Emmons-Perez.

The role of Capital Travel–Global Express is to open the door to programs, resources, and packages that you likely would not know about. For example, Irene and I were talking about the popularity of river cruises. I mentioned a well-known company that does a lot of advertising. She told me if I was interested, she had a few other suggestions. I liked to get advice from someone who knows more that I do about a particular subject. As Irene says, “Without a travel agent, you are on your own.”

Irene enjoys her membership in the Lacey Rotary. She’ll be organizing the Salvation Army bell ringers in December and also helps out with the famous Duck Dash. Soon she and her husband Roberto Perez will be on a trip to Peru to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of another culture. She’s still smiling about her river cruise on the Danube and another trip to Italy.

Capital Travel-Global Express aims get you on the road to lasting memories – all you have to do is pack your bags. Call Irene at 360-491-2641.

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