We have already written about the work of an incoming travel agency and gave you 10 reasons to book services with an incoming travel agency. As in all professions and activities, there are good and bad ones... Not all agencies are that good and you should pay attention to some aspects. To have a trustworthy incoming travel agency will make the complete difference in your tour planing and also during your stay. So, read and see some questions to have in mind to be sure to have a serious incoming travel agency:
Is it a true company or only an individual offering tours in a public place?
Pay attention, because you might have problems with "companies" that contact you in public places, especially if they are much cheaper than other companies. Tourism is a serious business . You probably would not hire a doctor, engineer or any other professional on the street, right?
Does the company have a phone number and is reachable 24/7?
If the company has an office, you can be sure that they will have structure to give you support if necessary. Or is it a home phone, picked up by the maid or a child? If it is an "one man show", only with a mobile phone, the person will not necessarily be there if necessary or may not be able to answer you. If you were the cliente of this "company", how would you feel if they interrupted your service to help other person?
Does the tour include a Certified Tour Guide?
It is a very important point, because in Brazil "tour guide" is a certified profession and only people with the correct certification can do this job. It is an obligation of the travel agency and a right of you - tourist - to demand a certified guide. Many "agencies" do no hire one and say that their driver are experienced. Do not accept it - drivers do not have the expertise for that. I have already seen situations of drivers letting tourists in front of very nice tourist attractions and saying: "go there to see and I will be waiting for you in the van". What kind of information is that? People return to the van without anything else than maybe seeing the landscape.
How are the reviews of the travel agency?
It is very important to get information from other clients before hiring a travel company. An useful tiip is to look for their name at Tripadvisor and at the Brazilian site ReclameAqui (complains website).
Tripadvisor is good to research opinions of travelers who have already been there. If you find the company at ReclameAqui, see the responses and if clients were happy with their solutions.
Are the vehicles properly cleaned?
Are cars, vans and buses properly cleaned? These are important questions you should not forget for your own safety.
Does the tour happen as described?
Only if there is unforeseen weather problem or too much traffic, the tour description should be followed as offered. Do not accept to stop by shops or any other places reccommended by the tour guide that were not in your plans. Some "agencies" do not pay their staff correctly and unexpected stops are made where they get some extra money or the guide insist in optional tours. Be aware and complain immediately.
The incoming travel agency speaks your language or one you speak?
For foreigners visiting Brazil it is an important point. Portuguese is not widely spoken and the travel agency will hire a tour guide that speaks your language, but the internal team should be able to communicate in other languages as well to help you before your arrival.
Is the travel agency updated regarding the city / region?
Some travel agencies are not updated and offer only a few options. A city / region is dynamic and things change. Does the travel agency only offers a single restaurant? Do they know what is happening around or at least can they give you tips?
Is the travel agency registered officially?
By Brazilian law, tour companies must have a registration at the Tourism Ministry. If you need to know if the travel agency / tour guide / hotel, etc. is currently registered there, ask for their CNPJ and access the website http://www.cadastur.turismo.gov.br/ and look for "prestadores".
Do vehicles / boats have an insurance? Is the passengers´ list complete?
The Brazilian laws regarding transportation are very strict. It is necessary that the travel agency provide a list with names and documents of everyone on board for tours or transfers outside city limits. Only so the insurance is valid. Only few names can be added at last minute and only if really necessary.
Are the booking and cancelation policy detailed and known by you?
You need to know what is included in your tour and also the booking and cancelation policy. It must be easy to read and find. It is important that you understand what you are buying and get a confirmation. If you do not have it, it is hard to complain later!
Does the travel agency team wears uniforms?
It is a basic question, but many companies do not fulfill it yet. At least a t-shirt is mandatory as uniform. Sometimes, the travel agency can have a third company involved in the operation, but also their team must wear adequate clothes. I have already seen severy bizarre situations: Sunday morning and the driver stands at the airport wearing sandals, shorts and messy hair. Another time, a lady picking up clients at the hotel wearing flipflops and wet hair. It is the kind of situation that a serious company would not allowPay attention and stay safe!
To undestand more about the role of an incoming travel agency in your trip watch the news about us as incoming travel agency at a popular Brazilian news about small, but great companies:
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