With the age of hi-speed internet, along with the access to online booking vacation sites like Expedia, Orbitz, priceline.com, Travelocity among the many, nearly 25% of Americans have been scammed or nearly scammed when booking a vacation online.
In a recent survey of 1,000 persons by McAfee, a giant software company, 18% said that they had or almost had fallen prey to vacation travel scams, and some 30% of travel-related scam victims reported they lost between $1,000 and $3,000. One of the major reasons that people fall victim to scams is the last minute nature of a person’s decision to travel. In the McAfee survey nearly 31% of those vacation scam victims clicked on a deal that was too good to be true. Meanwhile, 13% of victims shared that their identity was stolen after sharing their passport details during the booking process.
I have written in a previous blog that a person who tries to plan their own trip will spend on-the-average, the following time researching and planning to book a trip.
‡ Four to six weeks planning and and researching
‡ Spend 20-30 hours of their own time on the computer
‡ Visit 38 different websites
‡ Spend 8 hours on the phone, most of them holding for customer services
‡ The average spent on a vacation is $1,145/per person for a land trip and $1,791/per person for a cruise. Both of these figures are ground floor averages and don’t include extra spend that one may not have been budgeted.
With the amount of time and effort that should be taken to plan and book a trip costing thousands of dollars, why then are so many people booking their vacations last minute? Is it all those great last-minute travel deals flooding our inboxes? Or today’s millennial travelers who are more comfortable with the technology that allows them to quickly and easily plan and book flights, hotels, rental cars, and event tickets? The answer, according to research, is both. Among travelers, 44% are planning and booking their leisure trips two weeks or less prior to their departure, with more than half agreeing that they can be swayed by last-minute deals.
But with this in mind, a good majority of people in the survey, 80% of responders said they worry about having their identity stolen during the research and booking process. Despite these worries, less than 25% of travelers feel they have the right security in place to prevent their identity from being stolen. Coupling the lack of security software on many travelers computers with the fact that 31% of travelers booking online, do not check the authenticity of a website before booking a trip online. A recipe for disaster.
The McAfee survey also ranked the top five destinations that showed the highest concentration of potentially malicious websites: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Venice, Italy; Canmore, Canada. The scammers take advantage of the high search volumes for accommodation and deals in these popular destinations, while the cybercriminals drive unsuspecting users to potentially malicious websites that can be used to install malware and steal personal information or passwords.
Another high level of scams take place while you are traveling, especially abroad. Though 36% of people in the survey expressed concerns of having their personal data stolen while on vacation, 42% said they either do not check the security of their internet connection or willingly connect to an unsecured network while traveling.
Other potentially dangerous travel and technology behaviors included 40% of Americans using work devices while on vacation, 66% of travelers checking and sending emails, and 35% managing money through a banking app, another BIG NO-NO while traveling. You never know who is picking up your unsecured network while using a banking app.
So when you are going to spend a good chunk of money on that vacation, you want to make sure that it is done so you not only get the best bang-for-your-buck but also enjoy a vacation that is stress free and relaxing. One way to insure all of this, is to work with a trained Travel Advisor. They not only have the knowledge and experience, but have done a lot of traveling around the world to be able to provide you with solutions for your trip. Here are just some of the ways using a trusted Travel Advisor will insure your trip goes as planned without getting scammed:
1. Travel Advisors make it is easy to travel
There is no do-over for a vacation gone wrong. Travel Advisors can help you achieve the vacation you desire because they listen, suggest, adjust, understand and become a friend, not just a search engine or an anonymous voice. “They do the work, you pack and go!” Most Travel Advisors book your trip by CALLING their consortium of vendors and booking each segment of your trip rather than using the internet to book. They ask questions to the human on the other end of the line to make sure you, the traveler, is getting exactly what you want on your trip. They leave nothing to chance.
2. Travel Advisors add a human element
A travel professional ensures that you are a person, not a number. They are invested in their clients' happiness and satisfaction and want to make sure each and every trip is packed full of positive lifelong memories. They are with you before, during and after your trip, kind of like "for better or for worse." Travel Advisors answer their phones and respond to their email no matter where you are on the planet.
3. They save you so much time and stress
Sure, reading about places to go is fun, but planning a trip is hard work, and you never know what to believe. Travel Advisors travel the world, looking at everything, from the size of the rooms in hotels and cruise ships to the dining options on-site and nearby. If they haven't personally been where you want to go, they know someone who has. They can answer your questions quickly and correctly.
4. Travel Advisors have your back
Everyone hopes that their vacation will go off without any problems, but the last few years have been tough for global traveling, with natural disasters, airplane problems and system failures overwhelming some suppliers. But Travel Advisors have the access and the knowledge to help speed your re-accommodation, and act as your advocate when there are problems. When you book with an agent you can reach out to an actual person with whom you have built a trust relationship.
5. A Travel Advisor can save you money
Most do not charge for their services when you book any travel with them. Even if your Travel Advisor charges a fee, the value you receive will be bigger than what you paid. Travel Advisors belong to a consortium of vendors within the travel industry, and when your advisor books through these consortiums, they can provide group pricing which the general public does not have access. Also cruise lines and many resorts get the majority of their customers through travel professionals and these vendors will pass along perks to share with you.
So take the worry and stress out of getting scammed on your next special vacation. Sure you can continue to use online services and take your chances or you can simply pick up the phone and call your trusted Travel Advisor. Even at the last minute. They have the knowledge, the resources, the experience, the time, but most of all they have your best interest at heart in planning a vacation that will be a lasting memory.
So when it’s time to travel, pick up the phone and call your trusted Travel Advisor, book a great trip, then go have some fun!