Compare Reviews for Travel Agencies
Even with the growth of online travel booking sites, the travel agency industry is expected to grow over the next several years. Online booking has forced traditional travel agencies to market themselves in new ways, often by catering to niche markets.
Today, travelers who want a well-planned vacation but don’t want to do the planning can find a travel agent who caters to exactly what they’re looking for. Agencies often handle transfers between multiple destinations, event planning services, group travel arrangements and more. Working with a travel agent can help take the stress out of travel.
Top 10 Best Rated Travel Agencies
|Read 376 Reviews|
Hotel Planner lets you book the ideal hotel for any occasion, from weddings and reunions to tour groups and sports trips. Simply check off any discounts that apply and search according to your needs.
|Read 4928 Reviews|
With a focus on interface design, BookIt.com strives to offer travelers the most intuitive online travel services available. Their easy-to-navigate website makes booking hotels, airfare and rental cars quick and easy.
|Read 511 Reviews|
With Tours4Fun, you can search any destination in the Americas, Europe or Australia and find a complete list of travel tours that include your chosen city. Fine-tune your search with preferences like walking or biking.
|Read 4314 Reviews|
CheapOair is a simple-to-use vacation planner that includes search engines for hotels, flights, car rentals and package deals. The system automatically compares costs from several companies to find the very best deal.
|Read 733 Reviews|
Onetravel.com is a travel website where people can search for flights, hotels, cars and vacation packages online, with many of the services offered at discounted prices. The site has featured deals within set price ranges.
|Read 338 Reviews|
Global Vacation Network is a membership-based program that gives members great deals on quality domestic and international condo stays. Members have access to 24-hour travel advice and information via the website and a hotline.
|Read 1110 Reviews|
The Global Work & Travel Co. is one of the world's leading youth travel brands offering working holiday, volunteer, au pair, teach and internship trips, which include one-on-one coordination and 24/7 support.
|Read 225 Reviews|
Since it began in 1983, Vantage Deluxe World Travel has been helping travelers immerse themselves in local cultures around the world. The company prides itself on the handpicked tours and journeys it provides for their customers.
|Read 9 Reviews|
Zicasso is a unique travel site that matches clients with three specially selected travel experts to plan a unique itinerary. Plan African safaris or luxury tours in Latin America, Asia and Europe with the help of 24-hour support.
|Read 89 Reviews|
Since 1996, smarTours has served over 150,000 travelers. The company offers affordable traveling, tours and cruises. Travelers can choose between five different cruise locations and can choose between over 35 tour locations.
The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.
What features matter most?
Travel agencies aren't required to obtain licensing or certification, though recognized organizations accredit and certify members. Consumers can confirm a travel agency's accreditation by looking for the accrediting body's logo on a travel agency's website or brochure.
- ASTA accreditation: ASTA accreditation assures clients that the agency operates under ASTA's code of ethics and will communicate with clients about unexpected changes to travel plans.
- IATA accreditation: IATA accreditation provides agencies with a Sales Agency Agreement and a TIDS number that authorizes sales of international and domestic airline tickets.
- Unaccredited agencies: If considering an unaccredited travel agency, take into account that unaccredited may mean inexperienced or point to service problems that caused a loss of accreditation.
Credentials are similar to accreditation, though on an individual level. Some travel agents obtain certification through The Travel Institute, which confirms the agent's interpersonal skills and destination knowledge. These types of certifications ensure that travelers are working with an agent that has the necessary experience to anticipate travel issues and provide solutions.
- Certified travel associate (CTA): A CTA is a professional who has a minimum of 18 months in the travel industry and has passed courses to enhance skills and service.
- Certified travel counselor (CTC): A CTC has the skills of a CTA, advanced industry training and five years industry experience.
- Certified travel industry executive (CTIE): A CTIE is a travel industry professional who has management training within the travel agency.
Travel agencies charge fees for services provided to clients, for time spent researching and for booking travel arrangements. Inside knowledge of travel-related discounts may make booking through an agency less expensive than self-booking over the Internet.
- Airline ticket procurement fee: An airline ticket procurement fee, a fee charged by the travel agency for purchasing tickets on behalf of the traveler, is the most common travel agency fee. Consumers can expect to pay approximately 36 dollars, as of 2015 for ticket procurement.
- Travel agency service fees: Other common travel agency fees include fees for booking hotels and rental cars and for time spent researching trips.
- Itemization of costs and fees: While there is no law requiring travel agencies to provide an itemized breakdown of costs and fees, consumers can request this information to ensure fees are reasonable.
International travel planning
Planning a trip to another country is typically more complex than planning a domestic trip due to extra paperwork and the need to know details about the destination country. A trusted travel agency can help manage details and paperwork on the client's behalf.
- Destination-specific research or specialization: Some agents with certification from The Travel Institute are trained in region-specific bookings while others charge for time spent researching destinations.
- Hotel and flight packages: Using a travel agency to book international hotel and flight packages can cut costs even after agency fees are added. To check for savings, compare online price listings to prices provided by the agency.
- Visa and passport requirements: Having visas and passports in order is vital when traveling to other countries, so confirm which documents are needed with the agency early in the trip-planning process.
Group travel planning
Planning a trip for a group can be challenging because some facilities cannot accommodate groups. Travel agencies find suitable venues and transportation for the entire group.
- Large-group discounts: Travel agencies have access to discounts based on established relationships with hotels and airline companies to secure the best price for group bookings.
- Transportation: A large group is not going to fit in a standard rental car. Confirm the travel agency is able to book a van or several cars to meet the group's transportation needs.
- Itinerary details for the group: In addition to sleeping arrangements and transportation, eating out and visiting tourist attractions can be problematic for a group. Ask the travel agency to arrange the fine points of the group's trip in addition to handling the larger details.
Land and sea planning
Planning a vacation involves more than selecting a country and booking hotel and airfare. Hiring a travel agency can help make sure travelers enjoy every stop in their itinerary.
- Add a cruise: Discuss adding some sea travel to any vacation. Different on-board accommodations and ports of call allow travelers to extend the reach of their trips.
- Seamless transfers: Making the transfer from onshore accommodations to a cruise ship can eat up almost an entire day, but a travel agent takes care of the hassle by arranging travel to the port at the right time.
- Planning excursions: Ask the travel agent to arrange desired shore excursions at the ship's ports of call that enrich other planned itinerary stops.
What are different types of travel agencies?
Commercial travel agencies
Commercial travel agencies cater to business travelers. These agencies specialize in tracking down deals for business travelers to help companies manage travel costs.
Commercial travel agencies
Travel agencies that exist only in cyberspace provide clients with the convenience of online booking and discounts that are available only to professional travel agencies. Some agencies offer both online booking and walk-in service for clients.
Niche travel agencies
Niche travel agencies provide clients with specialized knowledge of a region. This enhances the travel experience for clients by ensuring paperwork is in order and providing specific, often first-hand, knowledge of the area tourists are visiting.
Memberships associations give travelers access to the organization's travel planning services for the cost of an annual membership rather than charging per transaction. This type of agency offers the most benefit to frequent travelers.
Who's it for?
International travelers can cut the stress of planning trips to other countries when a travel agency manages the details. This includes making sure each traveler has the proper paperwork and booking suitable travel accommodations.
Business travelers can take advantage of savings associated with discounts available only to travel agents. Some travel agencies also handle the detailed expense report paperwork required by the accounting departments of most companies.
Group travelers can save time when looking for accommodations that have room for the entire group by using a travel agency. Group bookings through an agent also provide a money-saving opportunity.
Travel bargain seekers
Travel bargain seekers can discuss their travel budget with a travel agent. This is a way to determine what discounts and money-saving packages a travel agency can arrange.
HotelPlanner uses online technology to connect customers with hotel group sales managers. Founded in 2003, HotelPlanner offers group travel services in more than twenty languages and partners with more than 50,000 hotels worldwide.
- Guaranteed lowest group rates: For consumers booking 10 or more rooms per night, HotelPlanner matches or beats the prices offered elsewhere.
- Free room for the planner: The group's coordinator, the person who set up the hotel block, is provided with a free room when booking more than the minimum number of required rooms for the block.
- Local experts: A local expert is assigned to each group to provide advice about navigating the city and enjoying activities.
- Easy bid requests: The electronic room-booking process for groups is quick and easy to navigate. Travelers fill in the form and wait for hotels to bid on their travel, cutting out hours spent on the phone and putting negotiating power in the hands of the traveler.
- Hotels bid on clients: HotelPlanner provides clients with the option to have hotels bid for the client's business, ensuring the best rates and packages.
- Best for: HotelPlanner is best for group travelers, such as business groups, wedding parties and reunion attendees.
Tours4fun is a full-service travel agency, offering both brick-and-mortar and online customer service options.
- Best-price guarantee: Tours4fun guarantees clients will receive the lowest possible prices. Travelers that find a lower price within 72 hours of booking can get a credit or refund of the difference in price.
- Customer satisfaction: Customer service is available 24/7 through the Tours4fun website. The company has representatives who speak English, Mandarin and Spanish.
- Easy access: One-click service is available using the company's app or website to simplify booking a flight or hotel.
- Group bookings: Groups can use the Tours4fun web portal or app to arrange travel at the best possible price.
- Events and shows: Consumers can enjoy discounted events and shows while traveling to enhance the vacation experience.
- Best for: Tours4fun is best for experienced tourists or first-time travelers.
Royal Holiday Vacation Club offers memberships that let you travel to nearly 200 destinations in over 50 countries. It has over 100,000 members and has been in business since 1983. Royal Holiday Vacation Club is a subsidiary of Park Royal Hotels and Resorts.
- Destination choices: You can choose from a wide variety of destinations to visit as a Royal Holiday Vacation Club member. Options include Buenos Aires, London, Paris, the Poconos, Orlando, the Dominican Republic and hundreds more.
- Cruises: You can use your membership points to take a cruise. Cruise line options include Carnival, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruceros and Australis.
- Special deals: Royal Holiday Vacation Club has special discounts so you get more bang for your Royal Holiday points. You can visit the company’s website to see current special offers.
- Flexible: Unlike a timeshare, you can use your points at any destination at any time. You’re not locked into a particular location or schedule.
- Blog: Visit the company’s website to read several blogs. Royal Holiday has blogs for travel, destinations, news and jobs. The blogs offer helpful advice about traveling for everyone, not just for vacation club members.
- Best for: Royal Holiday Vacation Club is best for international travelers and frequent travelers.
Vantage Deluxe World Travel was established in 1983 when it started offering affordable deluxe travel to select groups, like teachers unions and alumni associations. Since then, the company has escorted almost half a million travelers all around the world.
Global Vacation Network is a membership association that provides condominium packages and advice for saving on other travel-related details, such as airfare.
The smarTours company has been in business since 1996, offering low-cost group vacation tours to exotic worldwide locales. To date, more than 150,000 satisfied travelers have used smarTours to book their holiday.
Liberty Travel is a traditional brick-and-mortar travel agency with a presence in several major cities in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New England, Illinois, California and Florida.
Fox World Travel has 11 regional vacation travel agencies in Wisconsin and has agents who set up trips for corporate travelers all over the United States.
- Find a way: Agents are trained to find a way to put client requests first, even if the requests are challenging.
- Group travel: Traveling in groups is made easy with trips designed for wedding parties, schools, media events, and a range of customizable options.
- Business travel division: The business travel division specializes in meeting the unique needs of business travel like meeting planning services, attendee management, online event booking and more.
- Travel tools available: Travel tools that simplify traveling, such as currency converters and a flight tracker are provided online for clients to use.
- Online booking: Vacation packages can be viewed and booked online through the company website.
- Best for: Fox World Travel is best for vacationers, families and corporate travelers who want the assurance of a smooth trip.
Zicasso partners with top travel agencies that specialize in specific styles of trips or destinations and puts agencies together with travelers. Founded in 2006, by two world travelers, Zicasso serves the luxury travel market from its headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Trafalgar offers guided tours of popular vacation destinations, such as Europe, North America, South America and Asia, in larger groups of up to 52. Trafalgar also partners with the TreadRight Foundation to support underprivileged communities and work toward sustainable tourism practices.
- Authentic experiences: The guides that are assisting travelers live and work in the communities being toured.
- Travel options: All Trafalgar tours are guided tours, but there are numerous options to choose from. Travelers can decide on a family vacation, country explorations, special interest tours and more.
- Keep options open: Flexibility is built into the travel itinerary for exploring destinations with several nights of free exploration on every tour. This allows travelers to revisit favorite sites or explore areas not covered by the tour group.
- VIP treatment: Trafalgar trips provide exclusive access to sights so travelers avoid waiting in lines.
- Friendly experience: Local guides greet clients and treat them as friends, providing comfort and a sense of welcome in a strange land.
- Best for: Trafalgar is best for travelers who want the experience of a guided tour with a friendly, immersion experience.
Audley Travel has offered custom-made trips based on client input since opening their doors in 1996. With more than 75 destinations and travel types that range from luxury to road trip, vacationers can create and enjoy their own ideal holiday away.
- Preplanning assistance: Clients can browse the website or discuss interests with a travel planner to get destination ideas.
- Detailed planning: A specialist helps plan each detail of the trip until the client is satisfied and approves the itinerary.
- Pretrip preparation assistance: The assigned specialist is available for questions and reviews the client's itinerary four days before departure.
- Midtrip support: Clients are provided with a number to call that is manned 24/7 if assistance is needed.
- Multiple destinations: Trips to over 75 worldwide locations are offered by Audley Travel.
- Best for: Audley Travel is for those who know what they want and are in search of a tailor-made experience.
The Global Work & Travel Co. is a youth travel brand that offers working holiday packages in more than 100 countries. Travelers can choose from more than 500 programs, ranging from volunteer expeditions to student internships.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.