Booking a package tour can pose risks for travelers. Some tour operators are fly-by-night operations; others once ran fine operations but have lost ground in tough economic times. Here, from Travel Smart newsletter, are nine steps you can take to protect your travel investment.
1) PAY BY CREDIT CARD. That way, if a problem arises, you may be able to cancel and/or you’ll have documented proof of payment. And, very often, the credit card company will go to bat for you. Needless to say, keep all charge receipts.
2) CONFIRM NATIONAL ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP. Make sure that the company is a member of the National Tour Assn. or the U.S. Tour Operators Assn.
3) CONFIRM ROOM RESERVATIONS. Before booking, call one of the hotels offered in the tour brochure and ask whether rooms for the group have, indeed, been reserved.
4) ASK FOR REFERENCES. Get names of people who have taken one of a tour operator’s trips and then call and get other travelers’ opinions.
5) CHECK OUT THE TOUR COMPANY’s REPUTATION. Ask your travel agent.
6) STEER CLEAR OF ONE-TIME-ONLY TOURS. Those offering a series of trips, or several during the year, are likely to be better financed.
7) INSIST ON A BROCHURE. Does the company appear to be substantial?
8) NEVER BUY BY PHONE. Don’t sign up with someone who has called you and has not followed up in writing.
9) CHECK THE AIRLINE FOR THE ACTUAL FARE. If the fare alone is more than your entire package, you may have a good deal. But proceed with caution.
Source: Travel Smart