But, because the ingredients that make up a fantastic vacation for one person won’t be the same as what catches the interest of another, selecting the right agent for you can be difficult.
To make a decision as easy as possible, you’ll want to research which agencies have experience with the destinations you might be interested in traveling to or the activities you’d prefer to enjoy. For example, some agencies may specialize in organizing cruise ship vacations, while others like Fox World Travel, have a broader area of expertise. In the best case scenario, you’ll stay with your travel agent for not only one but several vacations, so it’s important to find someone who really understands you and what you hope to experience on your vacation. The best way to find out if you and an agency are the right fit is to ask some questions.
With What Destinations Are You Familiar?
Each travel agent has their own personal experience in the industry. Just like a chef or a hairstylist, while they are probably able to do a large variety of work well, you’ll get the best results by finding someone who is enthusiastic and experienced with the particular destination you are interested in. They will have feedback from previous clients and insight into the best practices when visiting that destination.
What Activities Do You Recommend?
For a good trip, don’t automatically assume you should stick to the most famous activities in the places you visit. Though you might be booking a golf vacation to Hawaii, for example, and want to do plenty of golfing, your travel agent should be able to recommend some other great activities and excursions that will open up possibilities for how you spend your time on vacation.
This is a good test question for an agent, because you want to know that they can work with the needs and expectations of their clients. You’ll also learn how well he or she will be able to guide you if you choose to take a different kind of vacation at a later date.
Could You Explain the Insurance, Guarantees and Fees to Me?
Nowadays, it’s simple to go on the Internet and book your own vacation. Doing that kind of booking for a luxury vacation or complicated itinerary may put you at risk of losing money because the mass-market booking sites have difficult refund policies, few guarantees and hidden fees. Working with a travel agent should mean having someone on your side and should mean that you have a clear travel insurance policy and other guarantees. Their fee policy should be up-front and easy to understand.
This is a good test question for the agent, because you want to be sure you understand what your risk is when booking with him or her. You also want to be sure that the two of you have compatible communication styles — so if you have to call up from overseas because a flight’s been canceled, you can be sure that your agent will be able to work with you toward resolution.
Do You Have Any Special Offers?
Here’s another compelling reason to book a vacation through a travel agent rather than doing it yourself: special offers. Travel agents can often get better deals and more interesting packages because they have experience and relationships with the resorts or other companies they book with. They may be able to get you a special offer that will enrich your vacation. Examples might include an inexpensive (or free!) upgrade, meal vouchers or admission to sights that are normally not open to the public.
It may be that your agent doesn’t have a special offer available to you on the dates you wish to travel, or for your destination. However, how they answer your question will tell you how you will communicate with them and whether or not you’ve made a good choice by giving them business. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt to ask, does it?