Travel agencies are great. They get you cool deals, make transportation easier and ultimately ensure you have a smooth trip. Getting a travel agency is as easy as browsing out names online. Depending on your budget, there are numerous travel agencies available that would suit your needs within and outside the United States. The challenge of this is that you would never really know who is who. Just like every business or transaction that is incepted from an online space, care and proper due diligence would be required.
Doing this does not necessarily mean you have to go super detective on any travel agency. There are various subtle ways with which you can easily detect frauds and scammers. You could start off by asking the representatives of the travel agency specific questions, ask others who have worked with them, and so on. if you want to engage the services of a travel agency but in no way have a means of spotting out the bad from the good, check out the following ways to spot a fake travel agency below.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
This is probably one of the most obvious ways to spot a fake travel agency – cheap thrills. Just as every scammer or fraudster would lure victims through sweet things and fake promises, a fake travel agency would seek to get your attention through cheap offers. The good part of this is that you would easily sense it a mile away. When booking the services of a travel agency, you must understand that asides serving their clients with reliable services, their aim is to make money or at least a level of profit.
In other words, when a travel agency has sweet offers that completely alter that course, run. Yes, sometimes there would be cases of discounts and freebies every now and then; however, logically one would be able to tell which is real and which is simply unreasonable. Besides, there is no such thing as cheap quality so have that at the back of your mind constantly.
Poor websites and harsh terms and conditions
This is another straightforward way to spot a fake travel agency. Usually, a company’s website should provide you with necessary information as to its business and processes. The detailed an organization’s website is, the better. One way of spotting frauds through a website is where there are no names and no addresses. Usually, certain scammers are scared of putting their names so as not to get caught. So a keen eye for details can save you a whole lot of stress. A one-page website is hardly a website.
You may also need to check out all their terms and conditions well. A fraudulent travel agency may not come off as a fake as easily as others. They may, however, put in some clauses that would ensure their safety even when and if they are dragged to court. In other words, do not be afraid to read through all the pages of paperwork whether on their websites or physically and beware of the places you put your signatures.
Request for the company registration documents and related documents
This is also very important as it is the ultimate proof of whether a travel agency is a fake or if it is genuine. It is as direct as checking for the company’s registration number, registered certificates and documents with a registered office. It may not be so easy to see all documents, but a few questions here and there should do the trick. A truly genuine travel agency would not hesitate to tender proof of its existence and a rundown of previous related services. It is important to be able to spot fake proofs as well. Fake documents, fake reviews, fake stamps, and the likes. A little research here and there would do the trick.
No physical office
This may be tough but it is very essential. Inasmuch as so many businesses have moved to online platforms, there still has to be the presence of a physical office regardless. To effectively run a travel agency, you need to have a certain level of staff strength, a place that staff report to, certain documents and so on. Basically, there has to be a physical office no matter how small. Besides, no tour would be completely planned online or in space – it has to start from somewhere.
This is almost very obvious. If there are no reviews, no recommendations, or no referrals, it is probably a hoax. A travel agency, no matter how small, would have people who know it. Even better are those that have online presence – a website. As long as it is online, somebody would know it and have a review of it. If nobody knows it, it probably does not exist. You must also be on the lookout for reviews, whether positive and negative and be able to make your deductions from it.
There are potentially other numerous ways to spot out the fake from the genuine. It is important to carry out extensive research and It is better to be safe than sorry. Rather than wait till you lose your money or enter into deeper security challenges, a few minutes of research would save you a lot of stress.
A good travel agency would make your job and trip easier and should do just that, hence, these safety tips are required:
- Ensure that they are accredited
- Ask questions and conduct semi-interviews
- See if their fares correlate with other online travel agencies or quotes
- Avoid random tour guides that want to offer immediate services
- Know the area of expertise of each agency
- Research the related laws of the country you are traveling to
- Research on the travel agency
- Ask other parties about them
With all these in check, you would certainly have yourself a wonderful and stress-free trip with the services of any travel agency of your choice.