No doubt, you receive a myriad of travel brochures from all sorts of “student focused travel companies”. Companies that promise to “take you to the moon and back”, claiming to be the “best in the business”, “most experienced”, and “least expensive”.
Some companies are reliable, the majority are not! Deciphering “Quality” from “Empty Promises” takes an open ear!
Some due diligence will pay big dividends!
Asking several key questions, will allow you to sort through the “hype” and narrow the search…
WE ALL LOVE A BARGAIN
Price is important BUT make sure it is not the only criteria you use to select your travel company. Since you only get what you pay for, remember:
The bitterness of POOR QUALITY remains long after
the sweetness of LOW PRICE is forgotten
CLARIFY ALL DETAILS
Always ask your travel supplier to clarify in writing, all details associated with the program (price /date of travel /hotels / restaurants / guides / included activities / etc.).
If the company fails to answer your questions promptly, clearly and in their entirety, without putting them in writing … BUYER BEWARE - CAVEAT EMPTOR!
Unfortunately, there are many companies in the market that make LOTS of promises BUT fail to deliver!
BEFORE SENDING A DEPOSIT – EVALUATE
You will be responsible for a group of students in a foreign city - evaluate
the company carefully:
- Observe the type of service you receive both by email and/or by phone. If it is sloppy, late, and lacks a personal touch early in the communication, REST ASSURED, it will get WORSE once you have given them your money!
- How long has the company been in business?
- Reputable companies are members of national travel organizations (ASTA / ACTA / IATA / TICO). These travel organizations have extremely strict protocols for their members, such as maintaining a QUALITY product, TRANSPARENCY, and client PROTECTION.
How large is the company? bigger is not necessarily better
- Does the company specialize in a particular destination or offer the world? It is IMPOSSIBLE to offer highly specialized programs if 5 / 10 / 15 destinations are offered, not to mention the world!
- You need a company that is “big enough to be reliable, yet, small enough to care” about YOUR needs and wants.
- A smaller company will offer more personalized service and a much more in-depth program, which is responsive to your needs on location.
Where will the group be staying? location is very Important
- You will be staying away from home for many nights. You want a hotel that is full service, central, secure, and comfortable. Is the hotel …
- Walking distance to all activities and restaurants? If not, how far? How will you get there?
- How many transfers are required to activities / restaurants? How long will you be on the bus?
- Are you able to go back to the hotel if you need something?
- What to do during free time when stuck at the hotel?
- How much valuable time will be lost while transferring?
- What is the hotel rating (3 / 4 star)?
- How many students per room?
- Are chaperones accommodated in single or double rooms?
- Does the hotel provide IN-HOUSE security for the safety and security of your students?
- All superior hotels have bell service … Is it included for you?
- At the time of deposit, is the name and address of the hotel given and GUARANTEED?
Quality Itinerary & Program? the devil lives in the details
All programs are NOT created equal! Many companies look for ways of reducing their costs, after retaining you as a client, once you are on deposit.
The program itself and the amount of detail given is a good way to determine if you are dealing with a first class organization, which genuinely takes pride in their programming, or whether you are dealing with a FAST BUCK operation.
- Is your input welcome?
- Able to customize?
- Are costs added later for adjustments or “optionals”?
- Are there ANY extra fees : memberships, weekend surcharges, peak season surcharges, entrance fees not included, extra sightseeing options on location, gratuities not included?
- Are the evenings structured?
- How much ,when, and where is the personal exploration time … ?
- Are there “hands-on” activities or just beautifully described “things to do” but do little more than occupy time … be wary of too much “sizzle” but not enough “steak”!
- Are the meals “fast food”?
- Are breakfasts continental at the hotel or FULL at local restaurants?
- Are the dinner restaurants at different local restaurants each evening?
- Any specialty restaurants (besides Sugar Shack)?
- Are menu options available at restaurants?
If the program states “it would be a good idea to take a boat ride this afternoon”, it is just that, a great idea, but NOT included in the cost.
Staff on Location? The attitude, professionalism, and knowledge of staff will make or break the trip
- Does the company provide the services of a full time, resident,
fully bi-lingual tour director?
- Is the particular coordinator a full time employee of the company or outsourced?
- Is the coordinator licensed locally?
- What is the coordinators experience?
- Is he or she able to think on their feet and solve minor but more importantly,
There is a world of difference between a dedicated full time employee of the company who looks after every detail, big and small, from the moment you arrive until you leave and one who only checks you in/out, gives you a walk, shakes your hand and wishes you a pleasant stay with a local map.
Intangibles of the Company
Because the intangibles are not directly reflected in the price, these are often overlooked BUT are very key to the overall QUALITY and SUCCESS of your program …
- Is there a personal, caring touch when corresponding?
- Do you have to wait for a call back?
- Are you told “your call is important to us, please wait, we will get back to you”?
- Do you speak with a live person and have all information forwarded to you
in a timely manner?
- Are emails promptly returned with all of your questions answered fully?
- Do you truly feel as though you are a valued client or just another
school group / number?
Intangibles such as good service, a personal touch, attention to detail, flexibility, and reliability should be the cornerstone of all dependable travel companies.
You deserve the utmost attention from your selected travel company.
Select well … !!!