Find Good Travel Agents – 7 Qualities Of A Good Agent

Traveling to Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some people, while for others it is a regular occurrence due to having business or family ties in Japan. Either way, when traveling to Japan on business or for personal reasons you want your Japanese trip to be the best it can be.

Experienced world travelers know that finding a good travel agent to help you plan your trip is a smart way to ensure that it will be a success. No matter how many Japan guidebooks you have read or Japan tourist brochures you have flipped through, none of these valuable resources can keep up with the ongoing changes in the travel climate of Japan.

With thousands of travel agents to choose from, you will want to find just the right Japan travel agent for your trip. It is important to know which qualities and characteristics for look for as you plan your trip.

To help you choose wisely, here are 7 qualities and characteristics of good Japan travel agents to help you plan your upcoming trip:

1. Belongs to a good network of air carriers, tour operators and hotel partners:

Travel agents these days are connected and networked in a way that they could not have been before the age of the Internet. However, having a computer and an Internet connection are not sufficient qualifications for being a travel agent that can get the best deals. For starters, good agents belong to networks of airlines, tour operators and hotels that offer them (and their clients) the best rates.

2. Speaks both English and Japanese:

It is a huge benefit if your agent can fluently speak your own language, as well as Japanese. This way, they can handle your planning needs while staying in touch with their own network of operators in Japan on a daily basis.

3. Is knowledgeable about your travel insurance options:

You may or may not require travel insurance, but it is a good idea to find an agent who can offer you travel insurance coverage options and who can competently recommend a customized plan if asked.

4. Has offices in your home country and in Japan:

Many of the larger agent networks have offices internationally. Once you have actually arrived in Japan, it would be convenient if your travel agent’s company had offices in Japan that you could call for help or advice in a pinch.

5. Has personally used the services they recommend:

Travel agents who actually have been on the tours and use the carriers they recommend are the ones you can trust. They know from experience what they are talking about.

6. Regularly travels within Japan:

Your agent will be able to give you the best recommendations if he or she actually travels within Japan at least 2-3 times per year him or herself.

7. Keeps themselves up-to-date on the latest Japan travel trends:

Good travel agents specialize travel in certain parts of the world or certain countries. Rather than finding a jack-of-all-trades travel agent, find one who has the time to study, connect and stay up-to-date with what is going on in Japan.

Look for these 7 qualities and characteristics in a Japan travel agent. Be bold and ask the agents you interview their qualifications and background before agreeing to work with them.

5 Signs You’ve Found A Great Corporate Travel Agent

The term ‘travel agent’ is regarded by some as a part of the past, as though the idea is somewhat passé. This, of course, is the furthest thing from the truth, and nothing brings home this point more than the role of the corporate travel agent. This person/entity is pivotal in working with a very different client that needs to top-notch amenities and facilities. For businesses looking to have the upper hand in their industry, having the right corporate travel agent can make all the difference.

Here are five ways to tell that you’ve got not only a good, but a great corporate travel agent:

1. The agent is connected in, and to, your industry. Your agent should have a deep understanding of your business. By knowing how your industry works, your agent has a better way finding venues that work best, what services are essential, and above all else, what makes your company be unique.

2. Your bottom dollar is also their bottom dollar. A great travel agent not only understands your budgetary demands, but he/she tries to find all value available when booking for your company. Their flexibility extends to everything from last-minute travel to relaxing getaways and finding the right price.

3. Your agent reminds calm, composed, and rational regardless of the situation. No matter the chaos, he/she handles the smallest details with ease. Even in the midst of any number of travel scenarios, a great corporate travel agent keeps his/her cool and has a solution at the ready.

4. The right agent operates under your company’s travel policy. Much in the same way that travel experts advise would-be travelers to set a budget and make a plan, great travel agents at the corporate level are able to navigate all necessary travel request while maintaining the integrity of your company’s budget and policies.

5. The agent is able to readily handle every size of client. This day and age requires companies of all sizes to travel so as to make the right connections. Unfortunately, small companies tend to be ignored because they don’t have the larger budgets other companies do. No company wants to feel ignored. At the same time, bigger companies need to know that even though the travel agent accommodates small accounts, their larger needs won’t send the agent into a tailspin. Great agents and agencies do both without dropping the ball.

Bonus Point: A great agent/agency understands your company’s need to maintain privacy. When seeking the right travel agent for your company, always be sure to inquire about their policy and procedure regarding private data. It’s important to keep in mind that not only are you depending on your agent to work with sensitive information with the utmost respect, but your employees are trusting you to do the same in all facets of the business.

Finding the right corporate travel agent takes work and an exhaustive desire to find the best agency for your company’s needs. Ultimately, your hard work will be rewarded with stress-free travel planning.

Get the Most Out of Your Travel Agent

Booking air travel, making hotel reservations and arranging vacation travel in general has changed completely with the advent of the internet and many people try to be their own travel agents. While you can arrange seemingly most of your travel yourself, you can’t do as well as your travel agent in a long run!

Travel processionals, whether your local travel agent, tour operator or destination specialist still possess contacts that you as an industry outsider do not have. As in number of other professions, travel agents, whether in a shopping center near your home or an online agency, wherever they may be located, do know something you do not, have way to book and arrange travel for you in ways unavailable or unknown to you.

Traditionally you could contact a travel agent and ask for a quote, whether a price of an air ticket, hotel or a vacation package. For the most part travel agents still provide that kind of information, although there is a limit how much information they may disclose as not all information is readily available to them.

First of all, most travel agents indeed may have at their fingertips routine cost of air ticketing, hotel rates or certain vacation packages available and will be happy to provide the price information to you instantly when asked. But once your travel request will need to be somewhat customized, whether tailored to your dates of travel or your other travel preferences, to find a relevant answer will be time consuming. Because of this time element involved, do not automatically assume an agency is keen to spend the time to furnish the information you seek when there is no commitment you will travel at all.

Look at the situations from the following perspective. In the old days if you had a problem with your car, you’d drive it to your neighborhood car mechanic and asked him to see what was wrong with it. You would drop the car off at the garage, the mechanic would have a look and tell you what the problem was. He would also give you an estimate and it was up to you to decide if you wanted him to fix it right then and there, wait or seek another opinion and another quote. His services cost you nothing.

But not anymore. These days, no garage, no car repair mechanic is willing to spend time trying to find out what’s the problem with your vehicle without charging you at least one hour labor upfront. Pay and he will look and tell you. Up to you if you will decide to take your car to another shop or have him fix it, he has covered his time spent diagnosing what’s wrong with your car.

Similarly, many travel agencies and professional travel planners and tour operators will charge you an upfront travel planning fee if you are requesting travel arrangements that first of all are time consuming, or there is no guarantee you will book anything. All you are after are essentially private tailor-made travel arrangement s and there are no simple answers or options to give you, and the only way to find out will be for the agent to dig and consult all sorts of different sources he has at this disposal and then present the travel alternatives to you for you to decide upon.

When working with a travel agent, travel planner or any other travel professional such as a knowledgeable destination specialist, keep in mind that a certain protocol will assure you will get not only the kind of travel arrangements you want in general but also you’ll gain a true partner that will always work in your best interest whether you’ll travel away from home on business or for pleasure.

1. First of all, when contacting a travel agent, whether in person or online, don’t hesitate to give them your name – don’t worry, most agents won’t spam you back. Without your name when you’re asking for a valuable travel advice most agents won’t take your request too seriously. Call if you wish but most agents prefer not to take notes, email is a way to go and for an agent to look up a fare often a time means he has to plug in a name, so might as well that name will be your real name. If you decide not to accept the booking the reservation will expire and no harm done. If you decide later to purchase the reservation the agent does not have to rekey it into the system all over again.

2. If you’re trying to be you own travel agent, even in part, say you plan to book your own hotels online, disclose it to the agent your are contacting for assistance, he/she may still be interested to help you with the rest of your travel arrangements. Don’t hide your intentions from the agent as agents don’t like to be used for information gathering purposes only.

3. If at all possible, always contact your travel agent or destination specialist as soon as you know when and where you wish to travel, not last minute before your intended departure. That is even more important when you’re planning a trip to a lesser frequented destination.

4. Don’t book your flights and hotels online and ask a travel agent to do the rest, namely the difficult parts, such as complex transportation connections, travel arrangements in remote locations or to book segments that you just feel are not safe for you to book online yourself. Give your agent to design and book your entire trip for you. The worst you can do is design your own vacation package, then copy and email the same request to dozen different agents to see who may be the lowest bidder. Yes, the internet is perfect for that kind of information gathering but look at this from a perspective of a travel agent. If he/she knows you are sending the same request to dozen agents many of them will not be too interested in dealing with you. Then again, telling them the truth they will appreciate knowing what you are doing and approach the whole thing quite differently and in the end they just might offer you a deal.

5. If you’re after booking shoe-string cost of travel, for example wishing to book the lowest type of accommodations, best be your own travel agent. Do realize that agents can’t book services that are simply too cheap to begin with, not to mention that that kind of suppliers do not pay agent s any kind of commission. The agent may still help you but keep in mind he will be doing you a favor and will be working for you at no charge. If so, appreciate it, email your thank you.

Do realize that to ask an agent million questions, get all the answers, including time consuming quotes, only for you to never replay again is definitely rude and turns agents off completely. If you are polite and respectful many will often work without any commitment on your part, providing you with information you need, working for free. But because of those that just siphon info out of agents so they could possibly book travel on their own leaves not only a sour taste in agent’s mouth but certainly induces the decision to charge au upfront planning fees when a next inquiry comes.

6. On another hand, when it comes to upper end accommodations keep in mind these hotels routinely offer discounts to agents that agents can markup and still offer you room costs below hotel rack rates. Genuine agent is not interested in selling you a higher end hotel in order to make a higher commission but to tailor in a better trip experience for you where he deems it desirable.

7. Keep in mind that there is a difference between a travel agent and a so called Destination Specialist. Most travel agents use online reservation systems to book transportation, hotel and vacation packages. They essentially book or resell ready-to-sell travel offers from a variety of suppliers that do not require more than filling in your name and dates of travel. When it comes to you needing customized arrangements, they will need to contact tour operators and destination specialists that are either part of their consortium or a network they belong to. Depending on the connections they have they will or will not be able to help you.

8. Destination Specialists pride themselves in really knowing their destinations. Many of them have indeed not only traveled extensively but know a particular destination inside-out so they can arrange travel logistics for you based on knowing, rather than looking it up in a brochure or some kind of data base. Many Destination Specialists specialize in difficult, custom designed itineraries and do not sell travel packages. Often a time though not always that kind of service reflects higher markup.

9. Last, please note that many destination specialists as well as travel agents work 110 or more hours per week because especially custom-design travel is indeed very time consuming. Being good at travel logistics does take experience and while with the internet it seems second nature to be able to arrange travel on your own, many travel professional are indeed very good at what they do! They do know more about travel than you, give them a chance, they can save you not only money but also many headaches and above all, they can assure not only that you’ll travel worry-free but that you may have a trip of your life! Keep in mind, a good agent is not after selling you a single ticket or a package tour, they want you to become a repeat client, their go-to-travel processional for rest of your life.

Travel Agents Are Still In Demand

Although their are numerous online travel services a traditional Travel agent is as much an important part of the trip as comfort is to traveling! The role of a travel agent has been increasing with the times and today most people are dependent on them for executing most of their travel plans so that they can rest easy and just enjoy their trip.

It is the responsibility of the travel agent to help and guide the travelers about the constantly changing schedules and airfares, availability of packages for vacation, and a lot of travel information that the traveler may not know about.

Choosing a reliable travel agent can be an important decision, since how you travel and your comfort will be largely decided by the travel agents. You should verify the information given by the travel agents, to be on the safer side and minimize your travel hassles. Incase of International travel, choosing a proper agent becomes more important.

The right agent should be able to foresee your problems and guide you about them. They should provide information related to customs regulations, important documents like visas, passports, currency exchange rates and certificates of vaccination.

Many hotels, cruise liners, resorts, and special travel groups make use of travel agents to market their travel packages to the ever increasing rate of people choosing to travel both inland and overseas. Most agents advice you on destinations and make arrangements for hotel stays, transportation, tours, car rentals, etc.

Information on weather conditions, restaurants, tourist attractions, and other such necessary information are also provided. A good travel agent could also take the trouble of checking out hotel services to gauge their quality of service in order that they can base references on a first hand report.

With the changing times, the travel industry has seen a big development in terms of Internet bookings and travel related information made available on the net. The number of people using online services is growing. This has resulted in a change in the view of the convenience of traditional agencies.

A poll result of American tourists revealed that over 92 percent of them generally buy their travel related necessities online. According to these consumers, online travel agencies have cheaper rates, are the easiest to use and offer all the relevant information. A word of caution is necessary for those using the Internet for their travel bookings. Be sure to navigate the site, verify that the agent has a good back-up system.

Also ensure that there are no added costs that are credited to your credit bills.

Till a few years ago, travel agents provided free services to their customers. Travel agents worked as agents for airlines, hotels, rental car companies, etc. The agencies worked on a commission basis from these suppliers.

But free travel agent services began changing as a result of certain changes in the rate of commissions. For example, in 1995 Delta Airlines imposed a $50 limit on domestic airline commission rates.

Top 3 Travel Trends For Today’s Travel Agent

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

~~Mahatma Gandhi~~

1869-1948, Preeminent leader of Indian nationalism

Trend #1 – The Internet

Everybody knows that the internet has changed virtually everything… especially the Travel Industry. Online giants like Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz have revolutionized travel. Even Travel Agents & Agencies are booking online while the general public searches and buys their own vacations online. In fact, it’s estimated that 82% of all travel is now being booked online. Travel is one of the most researched topics on the internet… and also the most profitable.

The internet is simple, seamless and the perfect medium for the travel industry. We just point, click, and pack our bags. Before the internet, however, an agent’s bread & butter was commissions earned with business travelers… predominantly flights. American Airlines was the first to pull the plug on paying commissions on flight purchases as the internet started coming into its own and more business travelers were finding better deals online.

Since 1997 well over 200,000 agencies went out of business. Over 1 million travel agents lost their jobs to the internet. That number grew after 9/11. The days of brick & mortar very quickly got taken over by click & order, making for a far more efficient system. However, those very few agents & agencies that could foresee the positive impact the internet could have for them, jumped right into the explosive opportunity that the internet introduced, to maintain as much of their client base as possible. Very few, a decade ago, opted to go with the flow of change. Today, everyone understands that the internet is here to stay. When we are adaptable to change, we flourish… and profit.

Because of the internet, the online travel agent is also home-based. Because of the tremendous opportunity, continuous industry growth, and #1 industry training, today’s travel agent is your mother, cousin, aunt, neighbour, best friend, etc. and earning 60-100% of the vendors commission. It’s for everyone.

Trend #2 – Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing has been and always will be the best way to market anything. Statistics prove that 80% of all vacations (most anything really) are taken because of a recommendation from a friend, family member or co-worker. Think about the last time you came home from a vacation. Did you keep it a secret? No way! We talk about it for 2 months before leaving and talk about it for 2 months after we get back! And we show everyone pictures and videos! And we recommend the destination and hotel to everyone (or not) and tell them where we bought our terrific deal!

Familiarization trips (FAMs) play a huge part in word-of-mouth marketing. The only way for agents to really learn about what they sell is to experience it first hand. FAMs are put together by cruise lines, hotel chains and destinations worldwide. They usually include accommodation, tours, meals, shows, transportation, etc. Prices are slashed making it affordable for agents to travel multiple times a year… VIP!. The vendors roll out the proverbial red carpet for agents when they arrive. They’re given the most exclusive experience possible because vendors know that when agents return home… they’re going to talk about it!

The average person will purchase his vacation online at retail, once a year.

Agents will travel multiple times a year, all over the world as far and wide as they want to go, for pennies on the dollar. For this, FAMs continue to be one of the major perks today for agents in the industry.

Which takes us to…

Trend #3 – Home Based Business

Travel students, Baby Boomers and everyone in between are bringing travel home!

Leading agencies smart enough to follow the internet trend, have gone online and now offer just about anyone the opportunity to be professionally trained to operate and sell travel from home!! Woohoo!! That’s right! YOU can sell travel from the comfort of your own home and get paid!

Doesn’t it make sense that if you’re going to travel anyway (especially as much as the Boomers), that you buy it from yourself and get paid? Or get paid commissions on the trips your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers are taking already? Of course! Most people will do business with someone they know & trust. You may as well be that person, right?

Agencies quickly caught on to the franchise phenomena online and have opened up the opportunity to just about anyone with a valuable work ethic who is willing to learn. Coupled with word-of-mouth marketing… you’ve got a winning combination! The more knowledgeable you become, the more perks, FAMs, FREE trips, upgrades, etc, become available to you… cha-ching!

I’ve been selling travel for years. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a travel industry professional. For more than two decades I’ve been asked “How did you come by this work?”

But I also get asked, “What’s the best place to go for our honeymoon?” or “Can you recommend a Caribbean cruise itinerary?” or “What hotel should we stay at in the Mayan Riviera?”

Hey, it’s not rocket science!! If I have the answers and I can get paid for the sale… Hello??

The internet made it possible for me to have my own online agency and benefit even more from the extraordinary perks available to travel professionals! Being online means I don’t really even have to be home. Because my business is online, I am accessible to the world, 365 days of the year, 24/7! Friends and family can book all by themselves while I’m hiking with my dog! I can even book flights or all-inclusive vacations right from my BlackBerry!! WOW! So my home-based travel business is really my mobile travel services!! Super cool!!

We must not forget the amazing benefits that come with owning a business from home as well!

Aside from the obvious travel perks, just about every family vacation now becomes a FAM. As professionals, when we take a few minutes to inspect and ask questions about the accommodations, tours, restaurants that we ourselves are experiencing while on vacation, we’re really educating ourselves for our customers. So our personal vacation now becomes classified as a business trip… and an expense that we can write off! Super cool, again!

On a personal note, I’m only 45 seconds from my bedroom to my office!

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to work from home, anywhere in the world, to have your own business and to qualify for such incredible travel-insider perks. Retirees, at-home-moms, students on the run… it’s available to just about anyone with a can-do attitude, has a strong work ethic, loves to learn, and is highly self-motivated. A few hours a day can earn hundreds to thousands of dollars! No bosses, no limits!