Traveling with a trusted and experienced provider is more important than ever in ensuring the quality and safety of your trip. Now is the time to be meticulous and make sure that everyone you work with is licensed, vetted, and taking the most up-to-date precautions. Below are 8 essential questions to ask your travel provider before planning your next trip.
Are you a licensed travel provider?
You need a license to legally sell travel in several states in the United States, yet not every travel provider you meet has one. A reputable travel company will have these secured and can show proof of these licenses if asked. Without these licenses, no waiver to protect your organization against liability will prove useful. If you want to protect your organization, be sure to make sure your travel organizer is licensed.
What are your health and safety protocols for COVID?
These protocols are new to the travel industry and are constantly evolving as circumstances change. There are also local regulations that are evolving and adapting as things change. This is a crucial reason to be working with a provider that prioritizes safety and is thinking about the practicalities of operating your trip down to every small detail. This includes everything from limiting your time in airports, to transportation sanitation, hotel check-in and dining guidelines, to testing local guides and having a plan for traveler quarantine if necessary.
What are travelers responsible for and what policies are travelers required to follow on their trip?
Understanding what a travel company can do and where your responsibility begins and ends means you are traveling with a comprehensive understanding of COVID and realistic expectations of how your trip could be impacted by this pandemic. It also illustrates how much time and energy a company has put into the process of planning for how to run your trip under unusual circumstances.
Do you have a written crisis management plan?
Pandemic or not, every travel company should have a crisis management plan in place. If they don’t, you need to think through how vigilant they are going to be when trusted to keep your travelers safe. We also recommend you verify how this will is integrated into the companies’ emergency plan and protocol.
Can I see proof of your liability insurance and can we be added to your policy?
Every travel company should supply written proof of this for you to review. As an institution, you can request to be added to a policy. It is important to note that no company is obligated to add you to their insurance coverage, but it is well within your right to ask as it offers you extra protection against liability.
Do you have partnerships or contacts with travel insurance providers?
After 2020, no one should be traveling without travel insurance. Make sure your travel operator can refer you to reputable travel insurance companies or brokers. Travel companies are not legally allowed to recommend one specific travel policy over the other; however, they can require that you obtain a certain type of coverage in order to travel on a program with them. There are some destinations that also require specific insurance coverage for travel. Make sure you carry proof of this insurance when traveling as many travel companies and custom & immigration staff will require proof in order to enter the country or join a group trip.
What are your responsible travel policies?
This question was critical before COVID-19 hit but even more so after the devastation of this crisis on people and industries. You should be examining if this company’s values align with your values. Travel companies can and should be implementing their trips responsibly, ethically, and sustainably and that goes beyond offsetting the carbon from your trip. What are their t human-centered policies? How are they protecting the local populations, community, wildlife, and heritage? If they don’t have a good answer, find a provider who does.
Can you provide me with references?
If all the answers above check out, you should proceed to ask for 2 to 3 references. Traveling is complex and there is a lot of time and money riding on these journeys. You should create a partnership with a company that understands your particular needs and represents your values – and the best way to verify that is by asking others what their experiences are with that company.
About the author:
Elevate Destinations is a boutique travel company that specializes in ethical and sustainable travel around the globe. To discover what is is like to travel with a values driven company we invite you to reach out to us.