Using foreign travel agents

Old Nov 15th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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Using foreign travel agents

How does one check on the reputation of an international travel agency? Is there something comparable to Better Business Bureau in most countries? I'm trying to check on Amazing Peru, but got no replies when I asked if anyone had used them. Thanks.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 05:43 PM
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I always book with in country providers since I find that their prices are 30/70% lower then the US; Typically US companies just sub-contract with a local operator, so you might as well deal directly with the source.
As far I as I know there is no one stop shop for checking out international agencies, no International BBB for example. If someone knows differently, then I would love to find out. But I always follow a few steps in advance of booking:
1) Be sure they are licensed in their country.Sounds elementary, but you can never be too sure.
2) Google them to see if they are listed as an in country operator for a large international business: For example a tour company I just used for Egypt Egypt Highlights is a ground operator for International Hostel Association. If you feel uncomfortable booking directly with the agency then you can book with this other operator (expect to pay a premium if you do )
Also, they may turn up on someones IgoUgo travel journal, or a post from some company that used them.
3) If they list hotels on their website or in your itinerary, contact the hotels to be sure the have booked their in the past.
4) MOST importantly ask for references and CHECK them..I always contact every single person who has travelled with the company and have found out amazing things. Very few people do this!
5) Lastly, purchase trip insurance, within 10 days of your initial booking, (check out insuremytrip.com) each company is different, but most have a limiation on how much time can elapse between your initial payment and purchase of insurance that will allow you reimbursment for Provider Default or bankruptcy.

Another issue with overseas companies is that often they request that you wire money and either don't take credit cards or charge an added 3%-6% add on fee.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 05:50 PM
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Thyra, do you have any in-country providers you'd especially recommend?
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Old Nov 16th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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Thyra - Thank you for your very helpful reply. I have followed your advice in checking references and am now waiting to hear from 7 people whose e-mail addresses the company furnished. They also gave me an ASTA ID number which I am in the process of verifying. Your response was exactly what I was looking for.
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Old Nov 16th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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Bevanded......I looked at their website.It's pretty impressive.Although any company of any size can conjure up any website to their liking, I dont think a "small time" agent would go to that much trouble.The "ASTA ID" card...anybody can belong to ASTA as long as you pay the dues(American Society of Travel Agents), just as anybody can be a "travel agent".Are you close to a travel agent? Maybe an American Express or Carlson office? Even better, a South American specialty travel agent.Not knowing where you are I dont know what else to recommend to you.I emailed my own TA, he is a Carlson agent but I havent heard.I think he plays golf on Wednesday afternoons but I cant remember.I hope this helps.
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Old Nov 16th, 2005, 03:52 PM
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Birder, well I have agencies who I have dealt with that are wonderful.. not for Peru though. Egypt Highlights, Exas Yacht Charters in Greece, Vintage Africa for Kenya Tanzania, currently I am working with Adventuras Tierra Verde for Costa Rica.. waiting for my wire transfer to go through...
A good example of checking.. just last week I asked a Nepalese company for references and *blink** they dissapeared, no correspondence, no working on it.. nuthin.. BIG warning flag!
I was scheduled to go to Peru a few years back and had everything booked but a family emergency put the breaks on our plans.. I wish I could remember the company name.. If I can find it in my notes I will recommend them.. particularly as my friend who was to accompany me, ended up going alone and had a terrific time~!
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Old Nov 17th, 2005, 03:58 AM
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Thyra, thank you so much for sharing those travel companies ... I will put your comments in my files for when I go to Egypt, Greece, Kenya. Seriously, although I don't have trips planned to those locations, you never know!
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