Dream Holiday or Nightmare - How to choose a reliable travel agency

Dodgy deals and scams have been around forever and in this modern day of online marketing we, the public, need to be additionally vigilant when shopping for goods and services. We need to ensure our hard-earned savings are not nicked from right under our noses by unscrupulous contractors especially those posing as travel operators.

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Here are a few tips on how to avoid scammers and confidently book your next holiday.

1. Too Good to be True

If the price of your holiday is much lower than anywhere else chances are there is a catch. While the advertised deal might be legitimate, the quality of the hotel is probably below par and you are in for a surprise. A room with a 'sea view' might end up being a room facing a noisy car park with a distant view of the ocean from the bathroom window.  If it is too good to be true; alarm bells should go off. Travel fraudsters tend to hook unsuspecting customers by offering 'unbelievable' prices. Check the price with a reputable travel agent or tour operator if you have misgivings.

2. Reassurance from ASATA   

Check the website and advert for the ASATA (Association of SA Travel Agents) stamp of credibility. ASATA members comply with a code of conduct and constitution that requires of them to abide by the laws of the land and prove that they are legitimate travel businesses that protect the interests of their customers. Check whether your travel provider is an ASATA member, by checking the association’s website

3. Do your Research

As with any high-ticket purchase always ensure you are dealing with a bona fide company when planning to travel. Before you work with an unfamiliar travel brand, try Googling it to see if there are any reviews or warnings about the company being involved in dishonesty and even fraud. Social Media might well save the day - and your money.

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4.Unprofessional Marketing Material and Documentation

Be on the lookout for an unprofessional looking website, poor quality marketing collateral and travel documents. Travel fraudsters will sometimes post false positive feedback. Rather check sites like Hello Peter and Tripadvisor.

5.Prompt Service

If you are given the run-around about confirmations and invoices there is a chance you are in trouble. Excuses and non-delivery of documents and air-tickets is another red flag. 

6.Your Gut feeling is Usually Correct

If you have any doubts pull back until you are sure that all is well. Do not get pressurized into making hasty decisions and making immediate payment to secure the deal.

ASATA Thompsons Holidays


The Association of Southern African Travel Agents, formed in 1956, is a representative forum in the industry to promote professional service with security for both members and their clients. Membership of ASATA is entirely voluntary and extends to South African Retail Travel Agents, Travel Management Companies and Wholesalers. Currently the Membership represents more than 85% of the industry including the head offices of most of the major brands. For more information, visit www.asata.co.za

About Thompsons Holidays

Thompsons Holidays has been the foremost supplier of top-quality holidays at affordable prices to the South African public for more than 40 years. Our team of highly trained and dedicated travel experts will tailor-make a holiday to suit your dreams as well as your budget. No hidden fine print, no excuses - just pure holiday bliss. Contact Thompsons Holidays for a relaxed and carefree holiday experience or sign up for our weekly mailers alerting you to our latest holiday deals.

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