Increasingly, people are seeking the advice and expertise offered by professional travel agents such as those who belong to ASTA, the Society says in a new consumer media promotion. “But as with any professional relationship, finding the right person is the key to a successful and long-lasting partnership,” ASTA says, urging travelers to select an agent with care.
“When travelers work with ASTA travel agents they can take comfort in the fact that they are working with a professional who is held to, and abides by, a strict code of ethics,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “One of the benefits of working with a travel agent is having someone on your side in the event something goes wrong, so it’s all the more important that you find the right travel agent to work with. Someone who will not only work with you to plan your vacations but act as your advocate.”
To find a reputable travel agent ASTA makes several key points:
* Choose a travel agent like you would a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust.
* If possible, call or visit the agent. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, consumers should visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits their needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel 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.
* Check out their credentials. A travel agency should belong to a professional group such as ASTA or be credentialed by the Travel Institute. With more than 8,500 members in 120 countries, ASTA is the largest and most influential travel trade association in the world. Membership includes travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads, cruise lines, tour operators, car rental companies and travel schools.
* Do your homework. If the agent is an ASTA member, ASTA’s Consumer Affairs Department can inform travelers of complaints filed against the agent within the previous six months. If the agent is not an ASTA member, travelers should contact their local Better Business Bureau (BBB) for information. The BBB, however, will only have information on an agency if a complaint has been filed.
ASTA notes that to find a reputable travel agent, ASTA’s consumer website (www.TravelSense.org) features a ‘Find a Travel Agent’ directory, which allows site visitors to search for member agents by location, area of expertise and language.