Travel Agents Gone Bad

Yesterday, I was reading an article online about a group of ladies who lost a lot of money after booking a trip with an online travel agency. The women booked their travel with the agency in good faith, only to have their money taken and the trip canceled.

The article inspired me to write this blog post. With so many scams out there on the internet, I want to make sure you don’t fall prey.

So before you book your next trip with an online travel agency, make sure you do your homework. With thousands of online travel agents offering travel services via the web, it’s hard to know who to trust.

Here are 5 tips to help you make sure you don’t get burned:

1. Do your homework and check the agency out with the BBB before you pre-pay for travel expenses. If you don’t find the agency in the BBB, Google them! If you find negative information, then that’s your cue that you don’t want to do business with that particular travel agency. Another thing you can do, is ask for references. If you have never dealt with the agency personally and don’t know anyone who has, don’t be afraid to ask the agent for client references or testimonials.

2. Be sure to keep records of payments you make and obtain required documents in advance. Always keep receipts of payments you make to an agency, whether online or offline. If there is ever a discrepancy in payments, at least you have proof of payment. If your agent does not automatically give you a receipt for payment, ask for one. It’s better to be safe, than sorry.

3. Confirm your travel plans directly with your airline, hotel or cruise line prior to departure. This is very important. A travel agent’s job is to book travel on your behalf. Whenever your agent books your travel, he or she is provided with a confirmation number, that number should be provided to you upon request. If not, this is a red flag.

4. Pay with a credit card that offers buyer protection if you do not get what you purchased. If things seem fishy, you can always file a dispute with your credit card company.

5. Consider buying trip insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances that could result in your trip being interrupted or loss of money paid. I always recommend travel insurance to my clients. You spend a lot of money on your vacation, it just makes sense to protect your investment.