Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting Off To A Good Start you are sitting there thinking about taking a vacation, or as I like to refer to it, a journey. You are pondering all of the places you have thought about visiting and trying to figure out that first step. Do you search for hotels first? Do you look into airfare? What about things to do in a particular place? The questions can seem endless and sometimes can get overwhelming.

So I want to give you a first step that you might think about before doing anything else. Ask around and find a "reputable" travel consultant or agent. Notice that I said reputable. That is the number 1 qualifier for selecting a good travel agent. Like so many other professions in this day and age, there are hoards of people who claim to be professionals or experts in the field of travel while their actions and credentials are telling a different story.

Social media sites have been inundated with people who say they are the expert at XYZ and some put their trust and even their money with that person while never checking to see what qualifies them as being the so-called expert.

Numerous travelers can share their horror stories from various vacations where they put their trust in a travel agent that they selected off the internet. I am here to tell you that bad experiences can be avoided if you take one simple step before choosing your next travel consultant. Here it is.

Check for credentials and references.

Technically that is 2 steps, but really it is the first step in the process of making sure you have the best vacation possible. Asking for references should be mandatory and any good travel consultant will gladly send you a list of clients who they have helped and who have offered to be a reference for that particular professional. Then ask for credentials or ask about their own experience in travel. For example, there are designations such as CTC, CTA, ACC etc that tell you that a particular agent has a certain number of years experience in the field of selling travel and he/she has completed some extensive training and has passed an exam showing their proficiency in their field. I am currently a CTA which stands for "Certified Travel Associate" which means I have completed the mandatory hours of course work and successfully passed the exam awarding me with that professional designation. Designations set those who have chosen this profession to be their full-time job apart from those who only get into a profession for their own personal benefit and only tinker in the business.

This does not mean that every agent or consultant who does not have a certain designation is not proficient in the field of travel. Some agents may never be called a CTA, or CTC but their experience in traveling to a variety of destinations sets them apart from those who are not serious about being a true travel professional. So ask..."Do you possess any certifications or have you traveled extensively?"

Remember this; a travel agent's services are always free unless a fee is agreed upon upfront. Take advantage of all of the ways a true travel professional can help with the trip planning process and take a moment to qualify that particular person before allowing them to make any reservations on your behalf.

Have you had a bad experience with a travel professional? I would like to hear some of your experiences so please feel free to comment and share. I am determined to put the word "professional" back into the industry I love and you can help me with that by only agreeing to do business with those who are truly in travel to help and consult clients and who possess the highest level of professionalism possible.

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