How to Determine if a Travel Agency is Reputable by:Jennifer Bailey
When planning a business trip or family vacation, using a well-educated travel agency is an extremely helpful way to book your getaway without any stress. However, not just any agency will get the job done efficiently. You will want to invest with one that has a reputation for getting the job done and going the extra mile for their customers. This means you may need to do some homework in order to verify that any agency you do business with is in fact a reputable one. Here are some basic tips on how to pick the best travel agency for you.
When considering a travel agency in which to do business with, longevity is a factor in which to keep in mind. While being in business for twenty years does not guarantee the agency is the best in the area, it does indicate they have enough going for them to stay in business. Avoid any travel agency that is not at least a couple years old, unless you know the owners and staff very well. Building a good reputation takes time. The new kids on the block may be excellent, but they may not be worth the risk of using to plan that once-in-a-lifetime vacation that you want to go perfectly.
Along with longevity, it is a good idea to see what ties the agency has to the local business community. A good place to begin looking is with your local Chamber of Commerce, or other business association. In comparison with businesses of all types, a travel agency that tends to be community minded and customer-centric is very likely to take part in the events around town in some manner. Membership in local business clubs and organizations is a good sign the agency is serious about what it does, which is exactly what you want.
References are always an excellent indicator of whether or not a travel agency has a good reputation. Toss the name of the agency out to your co-workers, friends, neighbors and other acquaintances around town. There is a good chance someone has either dealt with the agency or knows someone who did. Make sure to speak directly to the source rather than attempt to obtain opinions through a third party. It is too easy for something important to be left out or misunderstood as the information goes through several people.
Drop in at the agency and see how they deal with potential customers who wander in off the street. If you are greeted with a friendly smile, invited to come in and sit, or offered a cup of coffee, you can learn a lot about the business model and integrity that the agency holds. It would be worth your while to investigate a little further.
At this point, you may share a few general remarks, such as "I'm thinking of taking a trip to the mountains in a few months, and I wondered what you could do for me." If the response is to toss a couple of brochures your way, followed by a quick nod toward the door, then you know this agency is not right for you. On the other hand, if you are invited to sit down and discuss the possible vacation in more detail, it is a strong indicator that the agency wants to earn your business and respect.
The type of questions asked by the agent is also a good way to judge the reliability and reputation of the agency. When small details such as preferences in room types, accommodations for any allergies you may have, and preferences in the mode of travel are mentioned by the agent, you know they really do want to design a travel package that is to your liking. An agency with more interest in collecting your hard-earned money will simply lay out a few generic package deals and invite you to choose one. Go with the agency that will take the time to customize your travel plans to suit your needs.
Always ask questions regarding matters such as up front deposits on packages, payment terms, customer support during your trip, and the ability to change your travel plans in the event of an emergency. Reputable agencies will provide straightforward answers to these types of queries and not attempt to use fifty words when a one word answer will do. While you receive these answers, notice whether or not the agent is looking you in the eye. People who are not afraid to face you squarely when they talk are much more likely to be ethical, honest, and in general very reliable.
While price is not necessarily a factor when it comes to determining if an agency is reputable or not, beware of any agency that trots out the issue of cost and waves it like a red flag. It is perfectly permissible for the agent to ask you regarding how much you would like to spend for the trip, but it is not a good sign if he or she begins to wave discounted packages in your face before getting any solid ideas of what you want.
Choosing a reputable travel agency is a combination of assessing their standing in the community in terms of what others think, along with your own personal impressions of the agents when you make that first critical contact. Keep in mind your first impression is likely to be the right one. If you do not feel good about the meeting, then continue your search for the best travel agency.
About the author
Jennifer Bailey is a freelance writer who writes about travel and leisure, often focusing on a particular aspect of vacationing such as utilizing a travel agency.