Every travel agency is different and accordingly, some are better suited to a given consumer than others. Here are some tips provided by ASTA on choosing a travel agent who is right for you:
1. Go With The Pros: Look for the ASTA label. Through its continuing education and training programs, ASTA prepares its members to operate high-caliber, competitive businesses.
2. Ask Around: Tap friends, neighbors and relatives who use an agent they trust. You may want to visit or call several agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale.
3. Ask About Fees: Good agents will notify their clients of any additional fees, including service fees, up front. Doing otherwise is pointless, as the fee will appear as a separate charge on the client’s credit card bill.
4. Check Credentials: Many agents have been trained in business management, travel and tourism or geography. Others have supplemented their agency experience with extensive education and training courses. Some travel agents are Certified Travel Counselors (CTC) through the Travel InstituteorMasterCruiseCounselors(MCC) through the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
5. Customer Advocacy: If you have a problem with a particular part of your travel experience, the agent is there to act on your behalf to see that restitution is made. ASTA, for example, is the only travel industry association aggressively fighting to improve the travel experience, and air transportation in particular, for all consumers, not just those with access to the Internet.