Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to find a good travel agent

A good travel agent is worth their weight in gold. I've been working with mine for 15 years. I sure hope my traveling days end before she decides to retire because I don't know what I'd do without her.

I was fortunate to find her through the recommendation of a very good friend. Over the years she has always been there for me, advising me on trips, tour companies, handling things when the tour/cruise company messes up and, yes, providing perks as a Thank You.

Would my TA work for everyone? Probably not. Some people feel the best TA is the one that gives them the biggest discount and gets them the best price. That's fine. And there are TAs out there that will meet those needs. Just not my TA.

My TA knows that she provides a valuable service. She has gotten certified as an ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor), spends time and money to tour ships and attend trade shows. She belongs to a consortium (which also costs money) because it gives her access to out-of-the-norm industry information and also gives her special perks that she can pass along to her clients. She knows what her expertise is worth and won't compete with the online discount sites.

Want to work with an online discount TA? That's fine. Just be sure to ask them a few questions like how long have they been in the business, where have they traveled to, do they have any certifications (like the ACC), do they belong to a consortium?

Set your expectations for your TA. Make sure they meet them. And then when you've found one that does, stick with them. It will pay off in the end.

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