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Can I trust my travel agent or travel supplier?

Would you hand over a $1000 bill to someone you've never met with expectation that you will get something in return?  Can you trust your travel agent?  Can you trust the underlying travel supplier? After all, you may be spending between $5000 and $20,000 on a vacation so asking about trust seems pretty reasonable.

Don't hand over money without developing trust with your travel agent

Trust your supplier

So let's say you decide to go on a river cruise.  Your travel agent or a friend recommends AmaWaterways.  If you're new to river cruising you might have never heard of them.   You do need to do some research.  How long have they been in business?  Who are the principles behind the business.  How have they handled situations when things aren't going well?  What is their cancellation policy?  what is their deposit policy?  Are there a lot of unanswered negative customer reviews?  Fundamentally,  you're trying to see if they stand behind their product.

Trust your travel agent

Never give money directly to a travel agent, travel adviser, travel counselor or any other intermediary.  Money should be given directly to the supplier.  And never use a check - always a credit card. Not even a debit card.  Other questions to ask your travel agent.  have you used this supplier before?  Have you personally traveled with this supplier?  What is your experience in dealing with the supplier when things have not gone well?   Do you know how this company is run?

A case study - AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways AmaDante on the Moselle River AmaWaterways AmaDante on the Moselle River

We book a lot of AmaWaterways River Cruises www.amawaterways.com . Not only do they have a great product, but they have demonstrate to us that they stand behind their product.  We have traveled on over 10 river cruises - sometimes as travel agents, sometimes as "just regular guests".  We have worked with their reservation agents, we have worked with their operations department. And perhaps most important, we have had many conversations with the owners and have seen how they treat their customers.  A few years ago Europe had very high water situation making certain river cruises impossible to run.  We had customers on several of the cruise lines that year, including Viking and Uniworld.  AmaWaterways stood out in the way they handled customers.  It was strikingly different than other cruise lines.

And another thing....

Another element of trust is supplier relationships.  We book through the Avoya Travel Network (www.Avoyatravel.com) which provides a large level of industry clout.  Avoya maintains preferred status with the major travel suppliers.  They constantly monitor customer feedback, agent feedback but also the financial status and viability of the supplier.  This is a very cash flow intensive industry and so maintaining high fiscal standards is important.  So working with a major travel network helps build trust as well.

A great travel agent is someone you can trust.

There's on line travel agencies that provide great value for certain types of travel.  Certainly commodity components like airplane trips might be one of them.  I have no issue trusting an online booking agent when it comes to airline or hotel reservations of major chains.  But can you trust them to provide the best price and value for you?  Do they have any screening or vetting using the questions listed above?  No!

There's average travel agents that do provide some of these services but are really only interested in booking as many people as possible. We call these booking mills.  And there's also travel agent that mean well, but either don't specialize in an area or won't do the research needed to build trust.  These are average travel agents.

Look for a great travel agent.  This is someone that you can trust.  Develop a rapport. Ask lots of questions.  If it sounds like the agent is pushing one specific supplier or itinerary for the wrong reasons, call them on it.  Ask why.  and make sure you are asking all the questions listed above.  The great way to ensure you are working with a supplier you can trust is to first work with an agent you can trust.  Let the agent be your advocate with the supplier.

A great travel agent can provide so much value.  But it starts with trust.  Don't hand over money to a supplier first without developing trust with your travel agent.  Contact us to start that relationship now.


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