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Selecting a Virtual Travel Specialist
 
 
 
Selecting a Virtual Travel Specialist

Child with Kenyan Guide

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Gone are the days of relying on your neighborhood travel agent or spending the first day of your family vacation hunting for a local outfitter or tour guide. Reliable family travel specialists are located in virtually every corner of the world and can now be accessed online.

Whether you are searching for a tour guide, travel agent or adventure travel company, the following tips will help you weed through the plethora of specialists hawking their services on the world wide web.

Websites
The design and content of a company's website speaks volumes about the way they do business.
  • A family travel specialist's website should provide information that is useful, informative and fun.
  • The contact information, including a phone number and an email address, should be easy to locate.
  • The site should also include all relevant information, such as the cost of an excursion, maps and directions. And, for families engaging an adventure travel company, look for a packing list either directly in the content or in the form of an FAQ (frequently asked questions).
Visible track record
Great website but how do I know they can deliver? Assessing an online travel agent's credentials is not as difficult as it sounds.
  • Many industry associations and tourist boards list members and accredited agencies on their websites.
  • Check references, read testimonials from previous clients, pose questions on a travel forum.
Knowledge and experience
Nothing can be a substitute for knowledge and experience.
  • Determine the online travel agent or outfitter's knowledge of your family travel destination as well as the type of adventure you wish to experience.
  • Find out how long they have been in the business and whether they are accustomed to organizing trips and tours for families.
Location of the travel company
If the preferred specialist is not located in the country or region you will be traveling to you may also wish to understand:
  • Who will sort out any problems, accidents, or emergencies that may arise during your holiday?
  • When was the last time they biked down that country road?
  • How they will obtain a refund for the boat tour that was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Client service
If communicating with the family travel specialist is a challenge there is a good chance your trip will turn out to be a disaster. Select an online travel agent that is committed to organizing quality trips and returning satisfied clients.
  • How quickly does the agency or outfitter respond to your emails and telephone calls?
  • Are they eager to assist with the planning of your family vacation?
  • Do they go the extra mile to customize your itinerary?
  • Does the proposed itinerary reflect your interests?
Cost vs Value
Get more than one proposal and compare.
  • Find out what is and what is not included in the price.
  • Determine the location and quality of the accommodation.
  • You will want to know how many meals are included and whether they are buffet or a la carte.
  • In addition, find out what, if any, sightseeing is included and whether the trip is fully guided or will you be touring on your own.
Conditions
Make sure to read the fine print before you commit. The terms and conditions should clearly spell out your responsibilities as well as those of the adventure travel company, outfitter or tour guide.
  • What is the company's policy on reservations, deposits and cancellations?
  • Can a tour or excursion be cancelled for a lack of bookings?
  • Who is responsible for additional payments in the event of a currency fluctuation?
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Travel Trivia
The first settlers in Patagonia were: