From booking your plane tickets and hotels to finding car rentals for moving in and around your destination or searching for some interesting day trips nearby, a vacation needs a lot of planning. Not everyone has the time or inclination to take the DIY route. If you belong to this league and would rather hire a travel agency to do it, here are certain things you should look for before going ahead with your bookings:
How well their fares and itineraries match your plans
Check online reservation sites, browse websites of airlines directly and find if your shortlisted hotels are offering any discounts/deals on your preferred dates. Compare these with your agent’s fares and itineraries to see how well they stack up against your own research. The more information you have, the more likely it is for you to know what you really want. As a consumer, this would let you negotiate better and even haggle a bit to get the lowest price on your chosen destination package or airline.
The extent of flexibility
Is your agent ready to find other options if you don’t like the ones on offer? In case you don’t like a certain airline, dates or departure time, does s/he try to find suitable alternatives immediately or force you into buying the ones on offer? How well does the agent respond to any special travel requests in case you are traveling with kids, elders or a large group? If your agent responds well in these situations and comes up with satisfactory solutions, you should definitely go ahead with your booking.
Level of transparency
Does your agent answer all your questions to your satisfaction? From what types of tours they specialize in to what your short-listed tour plan will cost, the inclusions and exclusion therein, how accessible the agents will remain throughout the duration of the tour are some common questions that need to be answered. If you feel your agent is sidestepping any questions or isn’t forthright, it’s better to take your business somewhere else. After all, you don’t want to end up paying a lot more than your budget or be left stranded on a foreign land with no way to reach your agent in case something goes wrong, isn’t it?
Mentioning and confirming the inclusions with clarity
Your tour budget may soon get burdened by additional extras (that seem to stack up easily) unless you have clearly understood the inclusions in a package. From hotel and airport transfers to bus/train/boat transfers, you should understand and confirm the inclusions. In case you are heading to an island vacation (such as the Maldives), plane and boat transfers can dig a deep hole in your pocket if they aren’t included in your package. Even when transfers are included, make sure to know their types (solo or group transfers). In case your package doesn’t include transfers, find how difficult/easy it would be to arrange them on your own and the amount you will have to shell out for it. Knowing your flight, meal and hotel room type inclusions too are equally important.
An experienced and certified travel agent can make your holiday a vacation worth remembering. So, exercise due caution while choosing one to make your bookings.