With today’s technology, there are more than a dozen different travel websites where you can not only research your next vacation, but also book your vacation package complete with airfare, car rental and hotel. Offers, deals and savings appear at the click of the mouse. You’ve decided to book your next trip online, but how can you be sure to find a reputable travel comparison website and avoid scams or becoming a victim of fraud?
Where to Look
One of the best methods to locate a reputable comparison website comes from research firm JD Power & Associates. They publish results of its annual customer satisfaction survey combining responses from over 7,500 people providing information on their experiences with well known travel websites.
Or consider reviewing magazines such as Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler or computer magazine sites for information based on the direct experiences of their editors and reporters. You can also follow ongoing results of top travel search engines and newspaper web sites such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.
Website - What To Look For
Use the four tips below when considering a travel comparison website to help eliminate unsafe or unreliable websites:
- Customer Support – Once you’ve located several sites you think you want to work with, be sure the site provides contact information to reach a support representative in the event a question or emergency arises. Is the information directly on the website where you can easily access it?
- Cancellation/Refund Policy – Be sure to read the fine print concerning terms and conditions of what is included and excluded prior to booking. Canceling your reservations can result in fees ranging from a few dollars to the full cost of the room, car or airfare you are trying to book. A reputable website will place their refund and cancellation policies directly on the website and make them available to you before you book your itinerary.
- Get clarifications on anything you find ambiguous. Going along with something that you are not certain about will likely lead to problems later. If the company is unresponsive to your concerns, that may be a sign that you should look somewhere else.
- Recommendations – This is particularly important to pay attention to. Have you read any reviews about a travel site in particular or spoken with someone who felt they had exceptional service with a website? You can also try an Internet search for “top travel comparison websites” for a quick list of sites.
- Consider consulting a travel agent if your travel is extremely complicated – for example, if you're visiting several continents in random order -- or if you want to book accommodations, rental cars and other add-ons alongside your vacation. Although travel agents have lost market share in recent years thanks to the rise of self-serve travel websites, their expertise and one-on-one attention is helpful if your travel needs are complex.
Checkout Process – What To Look For
During the checkout process you are the most vulnerable to different types of attacks including credit card fraud and identity theft.
- Verify Your Security – On any page where you enter your credit card information you should see “https” in the browser bar rather than “http.” The “s” indicates the page you are viewing is secure and utilizing 128-bit encryption to send your personal details across the Internet. Note: the process may start with “http” on pages where you are simply entering in your name, phone address and other details. Although it is okay to supply that information, do not supply your credit card information until you see the “https” in the browser bar.
- Printable/Email Confirmation – After the checkout process, be sure the site allows you to print out a confirmation of your itinerary and that the confirmation number and customer service contact information is readily available.
By combing all of these tips when considering a travel comparison website, you stand a greater chance of working with a company that will not only work hard to earn your business but will also protect you online during your transaction and support you after your purchase.