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Details About Working With an Online Travel Agency

05 Mar

When you are looking to book your next vacation or your next business trip, you may be considering using an online travel agency. Before you decide to do so, however, you should be aware of what to expect from an online travel agency so you can determine how best to match that to your own unique needs. There are several different levels of service in which to classify online travel agencies, the level you need depends on your trip requirements as well as your personal travel and leisure preferences or desires.

Quite simply, you should be able to find an online travel agency that can fulfill any expectation you may have. Whether you prefer self-service travel plans where you do all of your own searching and booking, or a full-service online agency that handles every detail on your behalf, there are many options available. Depending on the type of travel you will be undertaking, there are also various options that you can consider among online travel agencies. Some specialize only in travel packages, while others offer a la carte menus of travel services for you to pick and choose.

There are several expectations, however, that are universal to all online travel agencies. These have to do with the minimum level of service provided and the quality and competitiveness of the types of travel being sold. It is best to qualify the online travel agency on all of these expectations before you choose to enter into partnership with them for the travel you are seeking to plan.

The first universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is having a variety of destinations and packages available to choose from. It does not matter what specialty the agency might have, from full-service travel to niche travel such as cruises or unusual destinations. No matter what is being sold, you always want to partner with an agency that provides options. While the first option you see may very well end up being the best choice or the best value, you will have no means of determining that unless other options are available for comparison. Good self-service travel sites will readily offer you comparison information. Full-service online travel agencies should compile that same information and present it to you when you are in the process of making a decision.

The second universal expectation you should have when using an online travel agency is that they offer the same basic types of vacations from more than one carrier or provider. For example, you can choose between two major airlines for the same New York-to-Miami flight leg of your trip. If an online travel agency represents only one brand, they are not truly a travel agency; instead, they are a representative of that brand. If only one brand were offered, customers would have no means of evaluating whether the services and products offered were of value or were worthless. Having a number of providers to choose from when selecting hotel or airfare or cruise line shows that the travel agency is actively updating its site with the best prices and options currently available.

The third universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is price competitiveness. Although travel agencies sometimes charge fees to travelers in order to off-set their cost of doing business, those fees must be fair. The charges for the actual travel services you see published through online travel agencies should be no more than what you would pay if you went directly through the provider, and, in fact, less if bundled with other services.

The final universal expectation that you should have for your online travel agency is a service-level guarantee that ensures you get what you pay for and are treated in a courteous and appropriate manner. Online travel agencies should also offer some form of a guarantee for your purchases that no foreseeable action on their part or the part of the service provider will interrupt your travel. They cannot warrant against freak or random occurrences, but they can ensure that their own offerings are solid before offered.

Perhaps the best thing about using an online agency is the availability of customer reviews and feedback you can read before making a final purchase. Another nice convenience, for repeat customers, is the ability to create your own customer profile that allows you to save certain options in your preferences that will streamline future vacation planning. You can save time and hassle by storing any corporate or membership discount numbers, frequent flyer numbers and other pertinent information on your customer profile.

The expectations you hold for the online travel agency you select as a partner may be varied. If they can uphold these four basic standards of quality, you can be assured that you are getting sound representation and the best deals available.

 
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All About Travel Agencies

02 Feb

Congratulations if you have recently started a travel agency. But wait, your work has just begun. You require unleashing important tactics, to enable sustained and relentless business growth. Following are few easiest, fastest and quickest strategies to increase the sales of your newly started travel agency. Follow every enquiry with five steps of professional communication. One of the biggest mistakes that most of the new travel businesses commit is not constantly following every enquiry. The best way to begin with this is to have a sales team where every consultant without fear professionally communicates with the enquirer. Following are few simple steps of communication:

  • A courtesy call to find what the inquirer feels about the information supplied to him
  • E-mail extra information or tip rapidly about the prospect’s trip.
  • Further send them a letter thanking them for enquiring.
  • Follow up call to find out their future plans and offer them further assistance. By this time, you successfully establish rapport with them; it is a right time to ask them about the booking details and a final commitment.

All these steps are interchangeable and the key is that they happen over the different mediums like phone calls, direct mail and e-mail.

Types of Travel Agencies

One of the main functions of these agencies is to act as an agent. This includes reservations, selling travel products and tickets and so on, on behalf of one or many suppliers. Usually, travel agents charge a small commission from the overall cost. Check out some different type of agencies:

  • Commercial and Business Travel Agencies

Most of these agencies have a department of business and leisure travel. The need and requirements of one traveler and the other tends to vary in few ways, and therefore, dividing the duties in different departments helps either department to specialize, finding deals for the leisure travelers on one hand and better deals for business travelers on the other hand. However, there are few agencies specializing in business and commercial travel only. Incidentally, there are not a lot of agencies restricting themselves exclusively to leisure travel.

  • Cargo Travel Agencies

There are few travel agencies specializing in shipping cargo. Certainly, and that is not completely relevant if you are planning to fly for personal or business reasons. Still, this shows in how many different areas an agency can specialize.

  • Niche and Multi- Destination Agencies

If you want to divide it in just two types of agencies, you have niche and multi – destination agencies. Multi-Destination are out- bound travel agencies that are large offering flights to any place in the world. Niche agencies are independent focusing on a specific part of the world. Most of the niche agencies cater to the individuals who have families in that country or who go for business regularly. Consider individual preferences, trip objectives and needs while selecting a travel agent. Different types of agencies offer different type and level of services. If you are a regular traveler then you may want to use the services of large corporate travel agency having branches all over the world.

 
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Various Types Of Travel Agencies

03 Jan

Travel agencies basically act as agents who sell travel tickets and products like hotel reservations and others. It should be understood that they would provide services free of charge to the traveler. Instead, the agencies gain profit through commissions on the total cost of the tour. The commission will be taken from the advertised cost or price of the tour.

In this day and age when the internet offers online means of booking for an airplane and travel accommodation, some people believe that they are already obsolete. However, there are still a lot of benefits that travel agencies offer to travelers which cannot be obtained when you book and arrange for a tour on your own. First of all, they free you from the hassles of arranging your own tour. They make everything simple and convenient for you. Most of all, they can get you considerable discounts on fares and accommodations.

There are also various types of travel agencies offering specific services that may be of advantage to your travel needs and preferences. First, there are the general travel agencies and agents which act like ambassadors of tourism. For example, an agency whose headquarters is located in Hawaii may establish offices in other parts of the world. These offices then will advertise and promote tourism to Hawaii where the central office is based. It tries to get and provide better deals to customers so that there will be a higher chance that the customer will book again next time. These better deals they may find from many airlines and hotels.

There are also travel agencies which have specific departments or may specialize on dealing with commercial and business travel. The needs of people who need a business travel may differ from the needs of people requiring commercial and leisure travel. Thus by specializing or appointing specific departments to handle such conditions will allow the travel agency to provide better services to clients.

They may also vary by class. Some are national chains owned by a corporation; others may be franchises from international or national agencies; others still are members of recognized associations; the rest may be independent or owned by local individuals. The national chain class of travel agencies implements consistent pricing and policies regardless of the destination and may offer the best international service to customers. Franchises can provide same perks to clients while locally owned agencies may not have the promotions and price discounts offered by other classes of agencies. The independent types are known to service niche kinds of markets like school field trips, church and sports team who are looking for affordable travel packages. Agencies who are members of associations earn through membership fees instead of commissions.

Some of them may also specialize on shipping cargos and therefore would not be a good choice if you are looking for agencies to cater you with personal or business travel. There are travel agencies offering trips to just about anywhere. These agencies are known as multi-destination. The niche agencies specialize on tours to certain parts all over the world like Greece, Italy, etc.

 
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The Benefits of Using an Online Travel Agency

05 Dec

Most people who go on vacation like to book trips through a travel agent in order to take some of the stress out of the planning process. Travel agents can also help you save money on flight, hotel rooms, cruises, and more; but what about online travel agencies? While people worry that Internet travel agencies could scam you or provide low-quality service, there are actually a number of benefits to choosing an online travel agency, providing that you pick the right one.

First and foremost, with an online travel agency, you can work with the place that has the lowest prices without geography limits. In other words, you have more options! When you opt to choose a travel agency in an offline setting, you are limited to the handful of companies that operate in your neighborhood, or at least within a reasonable distance. People who live in major cities might especially be affected by the high prices of brick and mortar travel agencies. Online, there are not proximity limits. The travel agency with which you work might actually have headquarters thousands of miles away, but if they have the lowest prices, you can still work with them over the Internet.

The increased number of choices does not just help you save money. It also means that you have limitless possibilities when it comes to travel. The travel agencies in your areas probably can book dozens or even hundreds of different trips, but there will be limitations. Even if an offline travel agent can plan a vacation to an obscure destination for you, it is not likely that he or she will be an expert in travel to this location. Online, you can find a family or an individual who has been there and will plan an amazing vacation for you. There are few places in the world where you can’t travel if you work with an online travel agency.

Another great aspect of working with an online travel agency is that you can shop for your vacation package any time of the day or night. Brick and mortar business usually close soon after the end of the regular business day, and many are not open for long hours on the weekend. The Internet is open 24 hours a day. While you may not always be able to call a customer service representative, especially if you like to do vacation planning at three in the morning, you can always check out packages offer on travel websites. This is especially handy for parents who need to plan after the kids are in bed, people who work odd hours, and those living in rural locations where the nearest travel agency office is a fairly far drive.

One of the often-overlooked benefits of an online travel agency is the control you have to make your own choices without outside influences or pressure. When you visit an office, many travel agents have the same tone as used car salesmen. You have to remember that these people are often working under some kind of commission program. Instead of making an hourly wage, they earn a percentage of your total vacation price, and even if they do have a salaried job, they may get incentives from travel companies (hotels, cruise lines, etc) for selling amount every month. Many travel agents get to go on free trips for every ten or twenty vacation packages they sell. So, you might feel pressured to book a trip when you are not done exploring your options or upgrade certain aspects, even though you do not have the money. Online travel agencies typically take a more hands-off approach. That does not mean that they won’t help you, of course. Most are more than willing to answer questions via email or over the phone. However, when it comes to working with an online travel agency, you do not have someone looming over your shoulder, trying to make a sale as you check out your vacation options.

Also, when you work with an online travel agency, you usually have more payment choices. Today, some offline travel agencies offer payment plans, credit card payments, and so forth, but this is not always the case. When you work online to plan you vacation, however, you can always find a type payment that will work for you. Some even have payment programs that allow you to earn points for every dollar you spend, which can go towards gift certificates or future trips.

Be aware that there are still scammers posing as online travel agencies and other travel sites, and you always need to read the fine print of any website where you make a purchase. However, online travel agencies are often a less expensive, easier, and more convenient way to book a vacation.

 
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