Dot Your I’s And Cross Your T’s
When Selecting A Travel Consultant
You're ready to travel, you selected your dream destination and now it’s time to make your arrangements… Now What??? If you are brave at heart, then the next logical step is to self-book. If you’re an old (no pun intended) pro, then move forward but proceed with caution. If you are a novice, are planning an international trip, a very expensive trip, or the trip of a lifetime, I recommend using a travel consultant. For those of you lacking the chops to self-book, no worries, there are many travel consultants willing to help; you just need to know where to find them. Let’s begin with what qualities you should look for, then we will move into how to find them...fair enough?
Traits to look for in a travel consultant:
Must have the heart of a teacher
Someone who asks what you hope to experience on your vacation and cares enough to educate you on your destination and recommend other resources if necessary.
Is a communicator
He or she should give you the ability to meet in person, over Skype/Facetime or over the phone to better understand you and get a feel for who you truly are and vise-versa.
Is a good listener
He or she should ask you questions you didn’t consider and make recommendations that perhaps you never considered. His or her goal is to give you a vacation that not only meets your expectations, but exceeds them.
Should be able to find the best possible price for the services you desire without compromising your desired experience.
Provides detailed, personalized service. Think boutique shop vs big box stores. How do you like to shop? If you’re all about the details, boutique is the best choice for you.
Is Qualified and Accredited
How long has he/she been a travel consultant and what certifications do they hold? The Travel Institute offers classes to help travel consultants keep current with trends and to certify them through intensive training. A travel consultant can be a Certified Travel Agent (CTA), a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) and a Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE). These certifications are a sign of commitment to the industry and to the traveler.
Got all that? Now let’s go find them!
- 1. Ask for referrals from your friends, family members, and coworkers. Ask those who travel frequently who they use, and why. Referrals are the best way to find a good travel consultant. If possible, find a local travel consultant, someone you can actually meet with. If this is not possible, arrange for a conference call or even Skype/Facetime call to get to know the him or her.
- 2. Pay a visit to your local travel agency. Call in advance to make an appointment with a consultant that is familiar with your chosen destination. When you arrive, check the vibe of the office. Listen to what is being said. You can tell a lot about an agency and its consultants by the way you are greeted and how existing clients are handled. Many travel consultants today are independent contractors and work with larger, "host" agencies. Look for consultants who are affiliated with agencies that are members of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), IATA (International Air Transport Association), and/or CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). Memberships in these trade organizations demonstrate the travel agency's commitment to customer service through strict adherence to these organizations' codes of ethics.
- 3. Check online for verified reviews and recommendations. Some travel companies have a list of their qualified travel consultants and offer client reviews of these consultants. Some other online resources include but aren’t limited to:
- Virtuoso - a luxury consortium and is a very good resource to find verified reviews and recommendation for participating travel advisors.
- ASTA - to check a travel agency’s membership and find a consultant
- Google reviews - type in the travel consultant’s first/last name, add “travel consultant” thereafter and hit search button. You may need to dig into page 2 or 3 if his or her name is common.
We live in a time of transparency and if someone is not good at their job, odds are, you will hear about it in conversation and definitely online. For the most part most we opt for a personal recommendation when choosing someone that will be doing a service for us. Personally I think it best to do all three; ask for a recommendation, visit a local travel agency that has the pertinent qualifications, and search online for what those outside your circle may be saying. Might seem like a lot of work but remember, you cannot get your time or money back once you embark on your journey.
Do you dot your I’s and cross your T’s?