Something kind of strange happened the other day. We had some people interested in a Galapagos trip – that’s pretty normal. They did their research and after some thought, decided to go with us – also pretty normal. 😉
Things got weird when they went back to tell the other company of their choice. The other company made it appear as though services had already been booked in the could-be customer’s name. After some digging around we found out the now frazzled folks were all in the clear. But geez, how scary! It got me thinking… when booking trips online, how do you know who to trust?
Some things to consider before choosing an online company to book with:
1. Read trip reviews. Some sites will offer trip reviews from their own customers. Make sure not all are A+ reports. If a company is honest, they should include the not-so charming parts too. V!va Travel and Trip Advisor are also great sites to check out, gathering unbiased information and opinions from travelers who’ve already been there.
2. Talk to a real person. You can tell a lot about a company by getting them on the phone. Are you bounced from person to person? Do you have to learn morse code before getting someone on the line? Basically, do you feel taken care of? Trust your gut feeling.
3. Do you feel pressured? For many, choosing a trip takes time. You want to find a company that affords you that time and understands that time. You should feel comfortable asking questions and inquiring about different options. From our strange experience above, it’s one thing for a company to place a temporary hold on spaces for you. It’s another, to be confirming a trip without your consent. Be clear about your wants. Get it in writing… it’s always a good idea to have some documentation of where you are in the process.
4. Who are the company’s associations? Look to see what organizations the company belongs to or if they have any seals of approval from larger institutions. These can be good indications of where the company’s interests lie, but more importantly offer some insight into whether they are trusted by other people.
5. Do not give credit card information before you are ready. Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for. Again, get it in writing. Don’t be afraid to ask about a company’s payment security. And never send credit card information by email.