When traveling for business or pleasure, many people use the internet to book flights and accommodations for themselves. It’s convenient and require a minimal investment of time. But some travelers lose out on great deals because they don’t know the inside information that great travel agents possess.
Certified travel professionals have an edge over the digital world. They work for you to ensure you’ve got the best deal and back up their bookings with personal service that can’t be achieved when booking online by yourself.
Travel agents are professionals who know every trick in the book when it comes to ensuring a trip will go smoothly. For a fee, these agents will plan every aspect of your trip, leaving it up to you only to relax. Best of all, if something goes wrong your agent will be a phone call away with a fix.
Here’s how to find a good travel agent:
What to know
Eleven states require travel agents to be state-licensed. Many of these states only require the agency to have a license and pay a fee. These stipulations offer no real protection for travelers. There are some other ways you can discover if a travel agent is competent, knowledgeable and honest.
First of all, find out if the agency is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents or the Association of Retail Travel Agents. Then, ask if the agent is a member of a travel consortium. Members of a consortium have strong negotiating power and will often have access to better travel deals.
Then ask for references from clients and wholesale suppliers. When you contact these suppliers, talk to the sales manager. That person should be happy to answer questions about their relationship with the agency.
Of course, a travel agency should have emergency contact information that is good 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The agency should also have a toll-free phone number. If you plan on traveling internationally, choose an agency that allows you to contact them for free if problems arise.
It is usually best to work with only one agent. That person should have a phone extension and email. Reputable agencies have specialized email addresses. Do not trust agencies that have emails from free services, such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL or Gmail.
Anyone traveling overseas should have up-to-the-minute information about political conditions. Good agents provide their clients with such information.
High-rise and specialized vacations require specific knowledge and reputable vendors. Good travel agents will provide plenty of options. They will also have information about travel warnings from the US State Department.
Cruise passengers can also receive great deals when using a travel agent. Members of the Cruise Line Society of Travel Agents can offer substantial savings or deals.
But no matter what kind of travel you are doing, a skilled travel agent will have access to information about safety standards and industry reputations. They can help you steer clear of fraudulent vendors and scams.
Whether you are planning a relaxing vacation or adventurous escape, your time away can be an amazing experience. Talented travel agents can provide needed guidance and support. They will take care of the details so you can kick back and enjoy your time away.