Depending on the country 90% of all holidays are booked online. Travelling is at its peak in terms of the price and available destinations. More and more people are travelling on their own because of the availability of the knowledge gained on the internet. It has become very easy to find cheap hotels, flights, car rentals, tours and packages online.
However, booking your holiday online can also lead to devastating financial loss. According to a 2019 survey conducted for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), nearly a quarter of consumers report being misled by travel resellers on the phone or online, affecting $5.7 billion in transactions in 2018 alone.
We have prepared some tips on how to avoid travel service scams.
How to recognize fake travel agencies
When you book your trip online there are several thinks to look out for:
Extra fees: Some “legit” companies offer plane ticket or full travel services from $40 to $250, but at the checkout you have to pay triple, quadruple or even more.
Contract: Legit travel agencies will always have prepared an offer in writing that states you paid for these exact services and they are accountable for it. Scammers, on the other hand, have vague offers or they do not provide an offer in writing.
Information: Make sure the information of hotel, airline company and other vendors are disclosed. Do not buy a travel package that does not give you full information about your upcoming travel.
Offer for a limited time: Limited time offers exist in the travel industry to fill the planes and hotels, but if the offer is 60 or more days away, be cautious because 60 days is usually money refund term.
Travel agent: Some companies offer cheap or free travels for travel agents, but in reality, you have to pay for documents and at the end you may not get the free travel.
Payment method: No option to pay by credit card. If the only option is to pay by bank transfer, be very cautious. Do not pay with wiretransferwire transfer or debit card unless you are 100% sure the website is legit.
Big price differences: Flights, hotels and car rental services are global businesses. The prices across websites usually hardly differ if at all. If you try to book the same hotel/flight at the same time the prices across the different websites should be the same or nearly the same. Price differences of more than a few percent are suspicious.
Money back/coupons/discount codes: Legit travel websites do not offer money back, coupons or discount codes. The prices across different websites are nearly all the same. Scammers try to lure you to their website with discounts. As margins on flights are 1 to 5% and on hotels up to 20%, travel agents do not have the money to give you a huge discount.
Terminology: If the website frequently used “free” and “complimentary”, it is likely just try to lure you in. No matter how big or small travel agency appears to be, they cannot afford giving away free discounts or trips
Of course, you can check also our general article on how to recognize a scam (spelling mistakes, social media and more!) https://www.scamadviser.com/scam-reports/tips-support/62/how-to-recognise-a-scam
Tips for looking for a travel service company
The main tip we recommend is to check these companies. There are so many people travelling and making money doing so, while sharing on Instagram or YouTube. Spend some time looking for people who already has experience with the company in addition with reviews on TripAdvisor and of course on Scamadviser.com