If you want to go on a quick trip or want to travel in a group, or to a country you have never been to before, the services of a travel agency might be invaluable. Travel agencies are companies that make it their business to have fast travel contacts in different locations of the world, and they can provide services sometimes akin to magical like last minute flight reservations, hotel bookings even during peak periods, and helping their clients get away from uncomfortable international situations through their local contacts.
Unfortunately, there are some bad eggs in the industry, and their activities might lead to terrible situations for a traveler. Most travel agencies have had to depend on the internet to ply their trade, and this makes it possible to use the services without having to physically met them. It also means that they will be privy to the financial and social information and details about the traveler. This information could lead to incidences of identity theft, or theft from the traveler who believes he is paying for a vacation or holiday, among others.
If the only use you have for travel agencies is where to find accommodation, then you might be able to get all the resources and information you need through online databases and compendia such as hotelopia that are available these days. However, if you need more from your travel agency like holiday planning, group or corporate bookings, and other complicated processes like visa processing, travel insurance, etc., you might want to read on to find what tips to detect scam travel agencies:
- If the flight or holiday booking advertised on the website of a travel agency seems ridiculously cheap to you, then it might be a scam. Although airlines are solely in charge of setting flight prices, travel agencies are sometimes given concessions that make it cheaper for them to book their clients. But since the purpose of any business is to make a profit, giving a flight price that is set at a ridiculously low price (especially when the time between the booking-to-be and the trip is short), should be a pointer for you to take a closer look.
- Taking a closer look should include looking at the logo very well, and if possible, crosschecking to see if they are a member of any association. It could also mean reading the reviews about the company on websites, where people that have used the products and services of different organizations provide an aggregation of reviews and feedback for future users.
- Checkout for free things- free tickets, free hotel bookings, free vacation, and attraction site tickets – mostly used to bait and hook the traveler. By offering something for free, the traveler believes he/she’ll be saving money by using the services of the agency. This does not mean that there aren’t free or promotional offers online, but before you commit to any agency, do your research, check out for misspellings, check with regulatory bodies, ask questions from the website. Just ensure that you do not fall headlong into a scam because you want something free.
Thankfully, it is possible to check for other people’s experiences about any organization before making any commitment to them. One such an online resource is the US-Reviews website, where people rate the services and products of companies to provide a guide for others. Don’t forget to research and review: there is nothing as painful as getting to the airport to find out your reservation was fake or getting to a foreign country to see those bogus accommodation bookings were made for you.