Buying Tour Packages
Buyer beware: When tour packages are too cheap to be true
When shopping for tour packages and the offer is too good to be true, it most certainly is.
Tour packages comprise of several components, mainly, air fares, accommodation, admission to attractions, ground transfers, guide fees and so on.
Thus, if you should come across travel agents who charge unbelievable prices, make sure you ask the agent about the tour components.
It may be that the choice of flight timings and accommodation may be less than ideal or that the consumers themselves may have obligations to meet, such as compulsory shopping. This means that the consumers, whether they like it or not, will be taken on a tour to selected shopping destinations, usually, to local specialty product shops. In exchange for offering lower prices, overseas agents need to reply on commission from such shopping trips to earn profits.
Should you encounter such offers the next time, do a rough estimate on how much such a package should cost and check with the agent on the reason for the unbelievable prices. Then decide for yourself if this is the right package for you.
If you are not convinced or comfortable with the offer, it is best not to focus on the price and look for packages that best suit your needs.
Things to check with your travel agent when booking your trip:
- Tour booking reference
- Price of tour (Does it include taxes, surcharges or any other charges?)
- Terms and conditions of your tour package
- Date of full payment
- Date to inform confirmation of tour(NATAS recommended guideline is two weeks prior departure for tours of more than 6 days in duration)
- Cancellation/amendment polices/penalties (by agent/consumer)
- Special terms/details of promotional package
- Tour Components
- Names of airlines/hotels used
- Air routes (Any transit? What are the flight arrival/departure timings?)
- Special meals request (Vegetarian/no beef/children meals?)
- Type of rooms (Twin/double/triple rooms?)
- Special needs (E.g. Bassinet seats for infants/wheel chairs)
- Transfers (Sit-in coach basis or meet & greet services provided?)
- Itinerary (Inclusion of entrance fees for attractions/fees of optional tours?)
- Tipping norms/guidelines and/or other customary practices in host countries
- Travel Documentation
- Passport validity
- Visa requirements / procedures
- Date for passport submission/collection
- Health/fitness/vaccinations requirements
- Check if there will be any pre-departure briefings and if so, when.
This travel advisory is brought to you by the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS). NATAS is a trade association representing the travel agency community.