Your travel agent can be an integral part of planning your vacation, especially when used wisely. A travel agent is an invaluable resource when you have decided to plan a trip. They can help prevent travel complications while at the same time getting you the best value. However, it is important to remember that each travel agent is different. So, to ensure that your travel agent is a good match for your needs, here are some common questions to ask.
Question 1 – What is your specialty?
It is important to know what your travel agent’s specialty is. He or she may specialize in certain destinations or products, such as cruises or adventure tours. You will also want to ask what types of travel your agent specializes in. For example, you would not want to book a trip for a large group with an agent who is not experienced in such services.
Question 2 – What are your fees?
Obviously, you know that you will be compensating your travel agent for his or her time, planning expertise, work, and advice, but knowing the fees upfront is always a good idea. Some travel agents work on commission, some charge a flat rate, and some charge per service. It is also best to be upfront about your travel budget and be clear that your total budget includes travel agent fees.
Question 3 – What are your hours of operation?
You will need to know when your travel agency or agent operates. Be sure to get the toll-free number in case of an emergency as well as an alternate number for after-hours necessities. If your travel agent has email or a website, you will also want to note that information as well.
Question 4 – What happens if something goes wrong?
Sometimes, it is impossible to avoid inconveniences while traveling. Such inconveniences may include a delayed or cancelled flight because of poor weather. Discuss with your travel agent what happens in such circumstances and how he or she responds to these problems. Always be clear on your travel agent’s policies.
Question 5 – Are tickets refundable?
If you’re working with a travel agent, it is likely that you are planning this trip well in advance. In addition to last minute inconveniences that may occur, such as poor weather cancelling a flight, things in your life may change as well. Find out if your trip is refundable, partially refundable, or if a cancellation fee applies. It is also a good idea to check if reservations can be exchanged.
Question 6 – Do you have special relationships with travel suppliers?
Many times, your travel agent will be able to get you a great deal, which may not be available to the general public. Cruise lines, tour companies, and hotels often offer perks such as upgrades, free parking, and other deals to travel agents who have worked with them before. If your agent has this type of influence, take advantage of it!
Question 7 – Have you traveled to my destination?
There is nothing like first-hand knowledge. If your travel agent has traveled to your destination, he or she will be able to speak from experience. A well-traveled agent will be able to make informed recommendations and provide sound advice as opposed to one who has not visited the areas you are considering.
Question 8 – Can I get a better deal if I travel on a different day?
This question is integral to establishing a better deal if your travel dates are somewhat flexible. Remember, even when working with a travel agent, peak travel times and seasons still apply. Let your travel agent know that while your original itinerary is ideal, if there is a better deal to be had, you may consider traveling at a later date.
Question 9 – Where can I learn more about my destination?
In many cases, travel agents will provide customers with information, such as brochures, about your destination. If the brochures are not sufficient enough for you, ask your travel agent where you could do a little more research. He or she should be able to easily point you in the right direction.
Question 10 – Will I need a passport or visa?
If you are not sure if you will need a passport or special visa to travel to your destination, ask your travel agent. If you do need a passport or visa, he or she will also be able to instruct you on how to obtain one.
Question 11 – What questions do you have for me?
Always ask your travel agent if he or she has any questions for you. Travel agents should always ask you a few questions about what you are looking for in a vacation. This is necessary so that they will be able to come up with the best itinerary for your interests and budget.
The best travel agent for the job is one who is willing to work with you, has extensive knowledge, and is receptive to your priorities as a traveler. However, you will need to ask the questions outlined above to get started. Remember, your agent should be more than willing to answer any of these questions, or any others that you may have.
Ryan Anderson is a blogger and freelance writer who focuses on the travel industry and vacation tips, often discussing a particular aspect of the travel industry such as working with a travel agent.