Monthly Archives: December 2016

Know More About Travel Agent

Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming. A travel agent not only arranges the various modes of transportation, but a travel agent also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, hotel deals and travel advisories. Don’t take our word for it. See what the president of Crystal Cruises has to say about using a travel agent..

Benefits of Using a Travel Agent
Save Money! – Strong working relationships with travel suppliers and the latest in computer reservations technology enable travel agents to access the most up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.

Traveler Advocates – Your best interests are the priority. ASTA (The American Society of Travel Agents) has a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights and ASTA member travel agents are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

Convenience – The ASTA membership includes travel agents across the country and throughout the world, most of which offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.

Service – ASTA member travel agents are knowledgeable and active in the industry. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools to offer the highest quality of service.

Agents Will Go the Extra Mile – Agents work for you and will do everything they can to meet your travel needs. Some agents literally go that extra mile to help their clients. One ASTA-member agent even went to Ethiopia to escort two adopted orphans to the US.

How do you find a good travel agent?
Choose one like you would a doctor or lawyer. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you will want to visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent’s willingness to listen and answer questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

What should be the determining factor in choosing a travel agency?
Your travel agency should belong to ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). With over 20,000 members in 140 countries, ASTA is the largest and most influential travel trade association in the world. Membership includes travel agencies, airlines, hotels, railroads, cruise lines, tour operators,car rental companies and travel schools.

Through its continuing education and training programs, ASTA prepares its members to operate high-caliber, competitive businesses. Due to the Society’s on-going educational programs, comprehensive agent management resources and stringent Code of Ethics, ASTA travel agents are known as dedicated, hard-working professionals who provide superior service to their customers. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

What special services do travel agencies offer?
As the travel industry grows more competitive, travel agencies increase the quality and type of services they offer. Travel agents can arrange all types of domestic and international travel, from hotel and resort accommodations to air and ground transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They can provide assistance with travel insurance protection, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements. Many have toll-free phone numbers and offer meeting planning and incentive travel services. Some travel agents maintain automated individual profiles that include the client’s frequent flyer number, airline seating preference, smoking or non-smoking designation and other specifications for a custom-designed trip. Arrangements can also be tailored to suit business and vacation objectives, personal interests and budget concerns. Although most travel agencies provide a wide range of services, some agencies may specialize in areas such as family travel, group travel, adventure travel, ecotourism, the mature market, incentive travel or travel for the disabled. Find an travel agent now!

How do I know if my travel agent is consumer-conscious?
Membership in ASTA is a sign of consumer awareness. The Society works on behalf of its members to support pro-consumer issues. In addition to lobbying for consumer protection on issues like airline bankruptcy and travel safety, ASTA has an active Consumer Affairs Department that monitors travelers’ problems and helps to find solutions. The Society works closely with other travel organizations to continually upgrade service and technology to better serve the traveling public. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

How do I know if my travel agent is well trained?
Ask about your travel agent’s professional background. Many have been trained in business management, travel and tourism or geography. Others have supplemented their agency experience with extensive education and training courses. Some travel agents are Certified Travel Counselors (CTC), having completed an educational program with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents. Find an ASTA travel agent now!

Who uses travel agents?
Travel agents are the leading distributors of travel products and services. Travel agents sell:

87% of cruises
81% of all tours and packages
51% of all airline tickets
47% of all hotel stays
45% of all car rentals
Source: 2004 Travel Industry Survey/Travel Weekly

Agents are the only unbiased professionals who can sort through nearly 100,000 daily changes in airfares alone. Experience, constant industry interaction and computer reservations systems make travel agents the only source savvy enough to engineer a relaxing trip out of the fluctuating complexities of travel offerings. So, save yourself time, money and frustration. Find an ASTA Travel Agent – Your Ticket to the World!

Who are ASTA travel agents?
ASTA travel agents are knowledgeable professional members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) – who uphold a strict code of ethics. The Society provides education, training and resource materials to its members to equip them with the tools they need to offer you the highest quality of service. ASTA travel agents keep up-to-date by attending industry events that offer educational seminars and networking opportunities.

The ASTA membership includes over 20,000 members across the United States and around the world. Most ASTA member agencies offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements. To find the ASTA member agency near you, search the Travel Agent Travel Directory.

ASTA’s priority is fighting for your best interests. We have a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights. And, should you ever encounter a problem with an ASTA member, our Consumer Affairs Department is here to help you. We want you to have a safe and happy trip. Start by seeing your local ASTA member travel agency.

All About Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can protect you from substantial losses that result from a variety of situations, including canceled trips, lost baggage, medical emergencies, supplier defaults, as well as other unforeseen circumstances.

TYPES OF TRAVEL INSURANCE COVERAGE
There are several general types of consumer travel insurance available. The coverage and limitations of each will vary depending on the insurance company issuing the policy. The following is a brief description of some of the general types of travel insurance.

Trip Cancellation: The most important and common type of travel insurance. Generally covers non-refundable payments or deposits if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Delay: Provides reimbursement for expenses incurred when a trip is delayed.

Accident/Sickness Medical Expenses: Covers costs incurred due to injury or illness that occur while on a trip.

Medical Evacuation/Emergency Transportation: Covers transportation when a medical emergency while traveling requires transportation to a hospital or other medical facility.

Supplier Default: Covers deposits or payments lost due to the financial default of a travel supplier.

Baggage/Personal Effects Loss or Delay: Covers losses due to items lost, damaged or delayed during a trip.

TRAVEL INSURANCE ADVICE: SUPPLIER PROVIDED COVERAGE VS. THIRD PARTY INSURANCE COMPANIES
Many travel vendors (tour companies and cruise lines) offer their own protection plans and these plans may provide very different coverage than offered through third party insurance companies. In most cases, supplier-provided coverage won’t cover you in the event they go bankrupt. When considering a supplier protection plan, you should carefully compare the coverage with third-party travel insurance products.

Who should buy travel insurance?
Travelers who want to protect their travel investment should consider purchasing travel insurance. If an illness, accident or sudden change in plans forces you to cancel or interrupt travel plans, you face two major financial losses – money you’ve invested in nonrefundable prepayments, and medical expenses that aren’t covered by your health insurance.

How does trip cancellation coverage work?
It is designed to reimburse you for forfeited, nonrefundable, unused payments or deposits if you have to cancel your interrupt your trip due to a variety of situations, including but not limited to inclement weather, illness or another unforeseen event.

Depending on your policy, it may also cover:

Emergency medical expenses
Transportation ordered by a doctor to the nearest adequate
medical facility
Reasonable accommodations and travel expenses for travel delays
Essential items you purchase if your baggage is delayed
Lost or stolen luggage

How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance varies from company and policy to policy. The more you have invested in your trip, the more you need to protect it. Travel insurance covers you for losses caused by trip cancellation and interruption, medical expenses, baggage, trip and baggage delay. When you consider all the protection you get, travel insurance is actually a great value.

Where do you buy travel insurance?
Most travel agents offer travel insurance and many may even require customers that decline insurance to sign a waiver form.

Tips To Money Saving While Traveling At Summer

Summer is quickly approaching so before you load the kids into the car to escape town, there are few money-saving tips you might want to consider.

“Whether you are traveling internationally, by car or just for the weekend, costs are going up and it is important to save on the small things,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “An ASTA travel agent is your best resource for finding ways to save while you travel this summer.”

When traveling internationally:

Visit destinations where the U.S. dollars is closest in value to the local currency (currency in the Caribbean is tied to the U.S. dollar, for example)
Look for all inclusive packages, such as resorts or cruises and pay upfront in U.S. dollars
Ask your travel agent about locations that may be less costly as they are in their ‘off season’
Ways to save money on hotels:

Ask your travel agent about upgrading your hotel reservation to a room with two king size beds instead of getting two hotel rooms when traveling in groups or with kids
Ask your travel agent to find hotels where kids stay for free or cheaper when traveling with kids
Ask your travel agent to find a hotel room with a kitchenette so you can take care of a few meals yourself instead of eating out for every meal
Your travel agent can suggest properties that might offer complimentary breakfast or heavy hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon.
When traveling by car:

Pack the car as light as possible – the more weight, the harder the car works and the more gas you use
When renting a car for a large group of people, renting one SUV saves on gas mileage vs. renting two smaller cars
Make sure tire pressure is accurate so that gas is spent efficiently
Use only the grade level of gas that your car owners manual calls for, nothing more
Use cruise control to run the engine efficiently and save on gas
Ways to save at home while you are away:

Turn the air conditioning off or down
Put your lights on timers
Unplug large appliances like TV’s and computers
Turn off automatic sprinklers
Other Tips:

Buy travel insurance: it may cost more upfront, but has the potential to save you thousands
Fly in and out of airports that may be farther outside of the city to get cheaper flights then take public transportation into the city
If a family member has a business trip, consider adding your vacation onto the end of the trip so there is one less plane ticket to pay for
Consider a volunteer vacation–the volunteer portion of your travel may be a tax write-off
Let us connect you with the expertise to navigate summer travel! Find a travel agent two ways: search our Find a Travel Agent directory or request a FREE trip quote and agents will respond to you.