Oh no! A pipe burst in your home. When you call the plumber, do you prefer the repair to be done by someone who is new to the job or has 10 years experience? Why would the selection process be any different for your travel agent? Your time off work and money saved for your vacation are precious so don't leave it an amateur. After all, you can't return a bad vacation. There are a lot of great travel agents out there and here are the questions to ask to ensure you get the right one:
1. How many years have you been selling travel? Does this include clients or just your friends and family? Have you been working full time or part time? Is this all you do or do you have another job? Look for an agent who has been selling travel for many years and doing it as their full time job.
2. What do you specialize in? Look for an agent that has a clear definition of their specializations. Beware of an agent who 'does it all' as they are probably new and haven't figured out what they want to specialize in yet.
3. What type of certifications do you have? Do you have any certifications from the Travel Institute or CLIA (if selling cruises)? - Look for an agent who has many certifications in their specializations.
4. Have you visited/toured the places you recommend? Look for an agent who has visited/toured the places they are recommending. If they have not, they can not provide the value you are looking for.
5. Why should I choose you over another travel agent? An experienced agent will be able to tell you all the ways they can provide value for your vacation.
Can you trust the reviews and recommendations on social groups? Unfortunately a lot of people trust the reviews they read without realizing those reviews may be coming from people being paid instead of actual clients. Facebook is full of network marketers who promote one another acting as clients. These groups search multiple facebook groups referring one another in their groups in hopes their business will also be referred back. When people ask for a recommendation on facebook, they are usually expecting people to respond because they had such a fantastic experience and are feeling compelled to share, not because this person belongs to a network marketing group. How can you tell which referrals are which? If you search the person’s name in the facebook group you will see an overabundance of them referring other businesses. If the facebook group is a specific neighborhood, see if the person actually lives in the area.
Did you know there are no licenses needed in most states to sell travel? However, a true travel professional has the proper credentials with an IATA number. Attaining an IATA number means the agent has a heavy sales volume, has been selling travel for many years, and has proven financial records to back it all up.
Bliss Travel Service - a travel agency specializing in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, honeymoons, weddings, group travel
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Dominique Barba, CTC, ECC