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How to Choose the Right Travel Agent
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How to Choose the Right Travel Agent
by Lorry Patton
Finding the right travel agent is important. But, where do you begin?
You're over a big hurdle if you know where you what to travel. If you have
no clear destination, you need to determine what you expect from your
holiday. Do you like lying around the pool or is exploring archaeological
sites more your style? Are you after a relaxing holiday or an invigorating
adventure? Do you like water sports or city excitement, historical castles
and ruins or quaint village streets? Can you get by with the bare essentials
or are modern amenities a priority. Ask yourself these questions before you
walk through those travel agency doors.
When you are ready, make some calls to agencies in your neighborhood.
You can get a good feel for the agents just by talking to them on the
telephone. Is he or she in a hurry? Many agents want you to leave your
telephone number so they can call you back. Sometimes they really are
busy. At other times, it is a way for them to know if you are serious about
your holiday plans. Make an appointment when you feel comfortable that
the agent understands and is able to meet your needs.
Some agencies specialize in senior tours, some specialize in cruises, some
specialize in group tours and incentive conventions, and some ... well, you
get the picture, the list is endless. These agencies have many more options
available because they deal with exclusive itineraries. They are particularly
useful if you are keen on a certain type of holiday such as cruising and
want to familiarize yourself with every possible type of water excursion
from barging, to sailing, to yachting. They also occasionally have a better
deal because of the volume of bookings they do with tour planners.
Other agencies have something for everyone and can still offer you the
perfect cruise. Ask about shore options, price options, days at sea, age of
passengers, size of ships, and ports of call. For bus excursions, inquire
about length of stopovers, lists of attractions, miles traveled per day, rating
of accommodations, meals that are included, and extras that are not
covered in the fare. Read the brochures thoroughly when you find a holiday
package you like, including the terms and conditions regarding such
important details as cancellation insurance and liability claims.
Prepackaged holidays are usually the best bargains, particularly when still
available close to the departure date. Prepackaged holidays can also offer
additional options. These options usually deal with accommodations. A
good travel agent will look for the best rate on all packages and offer you a
variety of options. Your budget will determine whether you choose a three,
four, or a five star hotel. Is money no object or is low the only way you can
go? Will you sacrifice on your food allowance and pay a little more for your
hotel room? Do you want a prepackaged holiday that includes air and
accommodations or do you want to book air and rooms separately?
Preferably, the agent or someone in the office will have actually traveled to
the proposed destination. Resort and tour planners offer familiarization
trips for that very reason. However, this is not always possible. Therefore,
you will need to rely on his or her knowledge and professionalism. Since
most vacation disasters happen because the visitor is disappointed with
the accommodation, it is the agent's responsibility to prepare the client for
any potential misunderstandings. For example, a 4-star resort in a tropical
destination might not be comparable to a 4-star hotel in America.
Mishaps such as over-booking, lost reservations and delayed flights cannot
always be avoided. However, qualified agents should be constantly
updating themselves on the reputation of various destinations from their
previous clients, and the tour planners who put the packages together.
You should also keep in mind that if you know where you want to go and
where you want to stay, you don't technically have to enlist the services of
a travel agent. You can call the airline to book your flight and you can call
the hotel to book accommodations. Just be sure to get confirmation
numbers from both. Most airlines and hotels have toll-free numbers which
you can obtain by calling 1-800-555-1212.
If you would rather place your travel needs in the hands of qualified
professionals, a good travel agent will provide you with insight that could
be to your advantage. They attend trade shows and go on familiarization
trips regularly. They read through the mountains of printed material that
comes their way almost daily. They have knowledge about new and
upcoming holiday packages, flight plans, hotels, and vacation destinations.
In other words, a good agent is well informed.