Finding the right travel agent can be as hard as finding the right doctor. You want someone you can trust to get you the best deal. Someone you who is knowledgeable about the area you are wanting to visit and has the resources to provide you with all the information you need. Travel agents book about 75% of all air travel, 30% of all hotel reservations, and 95% of all cruises. Even with all the information online most people still prefer to avoid all the hassle and use travel agents.
The first step to finding a good travel agent is to check their credentials. Check to make sure they are a certified travel counselor. To be a certified travel counselor a travel agent with at least five years experience must complete a two year graduate level program offered by the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. For the travel agency itself you have to look for membership in one of two associations. The American Society of Travel Agents and The Association of Retail Travel Agents are the two travel agency associations.
One of the easiest ways to find a travel agent is by word of mouth. Ask your friends and family who they use. Try to pick friends and family who have similar interests as you , that way you can find a travel agent who will understand your needs. Most people use a certain agent and not a certain agency. Not all agents in a travel agency are the same. One might specialize in cruises while another specializes in low cost travel plans. Make sure you get the name of a specific agent when talking to your friends and family.
A good travel agent will keep a portfolio of all your travel needs and preferences. Things like frequent flyer miles, credit card details, hotel or airline favorites, and any other personal requirements should be kept by the travel agent in a specific folder. This saves you time when you go in to book a trip, by having everything already filed out you wont have to do it each time.
A good travel agent will also find out your preferences, like places you enjoy visiting. This way if they come across an unpublished bargain for a place that is of interest to you they can contact you with the information. A good travel agent is always looking for the best deal for their client. This includes informing you if changing the dates of your vacation or changing your itinerary can lower the price for you.
Finding a good travel agent can be frustrating and time consuming. When you find a good travel agent you should use them for all your travel needs and refer them to any one who is looking for a travel agent.
Another place to look is online. Search for one near you. Don’t always go with the cheapest. Ask them their credentials upfront. If they try to avoid the question, move on. Do they provide phone contact information on their website and give office hours? This is a good way to tell if it’s an agent you may want to deal with.