The days of the high street travel agent are slowly fading in favor of the more dynamic travel agencies on the internet. With the simple click of a button it is possible to spend a few thousand dollars and book yourself a complete Peru vacation package. But in this new-age of fraud and tricksters, just how confident are you that the person at the end of the phone is genuine? Paul Jones a Peru vacations expert takes a closer look at travel agents in Peru and what you need to know, so you don’t get caught out.
Just the other day a client from California sent me a payment for about US$ 10,000. After the payment had arrived, she commented that she was concerned about how genuine we were, and that just the year before she had been tricked out of a similar amount when supposedly paying a travel agent in Africa for a safari vacation. Wow! I thought to myself! Didn’t she do any back-ground checks first? Who would send that kind of money without verifying where it is going first? Well, the reality is – quite a lot! It sparked the question for me, just how easy is it to find out how legitimate travel agents in Peru are?
Of-course a large proportion of travel agents in Peru are completely genuine. And those that are not put a dark cloud over the whole of the industry. In all the time that I have worked in the Peru travel industry, I can honestly say that I have not heard of any travel agents in Peru that have openly tricked people out of money. However, I have heard of companies that have gone out of business taking people for large amounts of money, and I have heard about companies that haven’t lived up to their promises and delivered a tour as paid for.
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It becomes obvious once you arrive in Cusco that there are actually quite a few travel agents in Peru. A travel agent can be many things here, from a company that offers simple bus tickets through to a professional agent that can successfully operate tours throughout Peru (and even South America). Those that can offer a little bit of everything are plentiful, and those that successfully organize comprehensive trips are actually quite limited.
So what extra steps can you take to be sure that you are dealing with a genuine company that is going to deliver exactly what you expected.
1) Ask for a local telephone number (not a toll free number) and give them a call. All travel agents in Peru that are genuine will have a local telephone number.
2) Do some background checks on the internet. From my experience bad news travels fast and good news doesn’t travel at all. If there is a genuine concern over a travel agency, you’ll have no problem finding what people have to say. Be careful to use your own judgement when reading some travel forum websites, as often the truth can be greatly exaggerated, if not rigged.
3) Google the name of the person that you are dealing with followed by the word ‘Peru’ or ‘travel agents in Peru.’ If you searched for me ‘Paul Jones Peru’ you will soon find lots of information about me. You will see all the websites that I am associated with, many of the articles that I have written and other information that I have contributed. Hopefully you won’t find anything bad!
4) Be wary of anyone using Hotmail or Gmail to communicate by email. All genuine companies will have an email address which is similar to the address of their website. Saying that from time to time I use both Gmail and Hotmail to communicate! Use your judgement.
5) Always pay by credit card. Sending money by direct wire transfer or by Western Union is asking for trouble. A credit card payment is the safest method of paying travel agents in Peru. Credit card companies typically offer a standard level of fraud protection, and should you later find out that your payment was fraudulent you can apply for a refund. Check with your credit card company about what levels of security they offer before you pay.
6) Ask for some references from clients who have recently travelled. Make sure you get a telephone number as well as an email address and give them a call.
7) Get an industry reference from a recognized hotel or a supplier for your travel agent. Only genuine travel agents in Peru will have suppliers!
This article on ‘travel agents in Peru’ was brought to you by theonlyperuguide, a source of free and useful Peru travel information.