In todays world of do-it-yourself travel planning, where you search the web for the cheapest price possible, the old saying still holds true. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unfortunately there are agencies out there that don’t have their customer’s best interest at heart. These are companies that are more interested in making money than they are about filling your travel plans to your specifications while still getting you the best deal possible.
This is where a real travel agent can help. Even though the trend in online websites offering deals on everything from airfare to rental cars has grown into a huge business over the years a lot of people are still finding the value in going to an actual travel agency in search of customized travel planning and to their surprise they are finding that their travel agent can offer them deals that are either comparable, or in some cases better than, the travel websites.
This is not to suggest that there aren’t travel agents that aren’t also only out for your money, so we have come up with some simple tips to help you find a reputable travel agent that will take care of your needs and save you money.
Check to see if the agency is a member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Agencies who are members must follow strict rules of conduct. If you have a problem with the agency, it will be easier for you to file a complaint.
Check with the Better Business Bureau
Find out what ratings the agencies you are thinking of doing business have received. The BBB will also let you know if there are customer complaints or any other problems with the overall way the agency conducts business.
Get it in writing
Some discount agencies will promise you low rates to get your business, then hit you with hidden fees. Since you are on a budget, you don’t want any surprises. Be sure to get all of the agency’s rates on paper up front.
Does the site have a physical address
Reputable businesses will list their address on their website. Sites that don’t list their address usually have something to hide, like the fact they aren’t a professional site but rather being run for a quick buck at the customer’s expense.
What are others saying
Check with online review sites like Yelp, Reviewcentre, Yahoo and Google for what other people are saying about the service they received from the agency you are considering. In this age of online consumerism, customer reviews are becoming more and more important when shopping for anything.
How long has the agency been in business
A good judge of any business is their staying power. As in the case of all businesses, you will have better results from one that has been in business for a longer period of time than you will one just starting out.
Research the agency on the web
Look up additional information for the agency on the web, like articles, press releases, travel forum comments and other information along these lines.