Whose side is your travel agency on?
Is it on your team, ready to help you if something happens on your trip? Or is it busy cashing that commission check from your last reservation?
You deserve an agent who works for you. But how do you determine if your travel counselor cares?
Here are a few questions that will help you weed out a bad agent:
Were you properly interrogated? If you are asked a lot of questions when you book a trip, you’re probably working with a competent agent. A good travel agent or agency Web site will ask questions to be sure your trip runs smoothly. Do you need a car? A meeting room at your hotel? Tickets for an evening show? If you don’t get the questions, move on.
Did you get the itinerary you wanted? You wanted to fly on “Myway Airlines,” right? Do the new routing, carrier and cost all make sense with your plans? Or do they make more sense for your agent? Fact is, all airlines are still cutting deals with agencies – online and offline – and your agent should disclose these relationships. After all, a lot of these deals result in better perks for the agency’s clients as well as the agency itself. If your agent steers you to another airline because it’s only in his best interests, then run, don’t walk.
Do you have someone to call if things go wrong? This is especially important for a business traveler, but can also become a factor for a leisure traveler who has been looking forward to a hard-earned vacation. Is there someone to contact when things go awry (they do). If your agent doesn’t offer access to 24/7 personal assistance, forget it.
And what if something goes wrong? Before you book, find out what your agency will do for you if the trip goes south (figuratively speaking). Remember, you are paying them. Your agency should be a member of a major industry associations such as ASTA, CLIA, ARTA. Your agency should also have an errors and omissions insurance policy. They should hold some industry recognized certifications. In short, your agency should be a professional and when things go wrong, it should immediately step in and help to make things right. If your agency is not interested in you after the sale, fire it.
Remember, it’s your trip. You need an agent – a real agent – who is on your side. Not someone who looks at you and sees nothing but a fee or a commission.