Ten Questions To Ask Your Tour Company
Your Alaska vacation will likely be a major purchase for you. Take a few minutes to find out a little more about the travel company you are booking with. Much of this advice holds true for any major online purchase. If you have any questions for concerns be sure to give us a call at 800-208-0200 or contact us online.
1. Where are you located?
Many companies claiming to be Alaska travel experts are actually located thousands of miles from the state with reservation agents who have never visited Alaska. Many focus on other destinations or other types of business. Our office is located in Anchorage Alaska and our staff is made up of long time Alaskans. Our only business is Alaska travel.
2. How long have you been in the Alaska travel packaging business?
Since 1995 Alaska Tour & Travel has helped well over 100,000 visitors plan their perfect Alaska vacation. We got our start focusing on lodging in Denali Park and Seward, and we have been offering complete Alaska vacation packages for well over a decade. Our company is owned by a small group of partners with over a century of combined experience in the Alaska travel business. Unfortunately, other companies relatively new to the Alaska travel packaging business like to make similar claims. We encourage you to click here for tips on how to verify such claims.
3. Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau?
If you have any questions about a company, be sure to contact the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are a member, and to check for unresolved complaints. Of course, Alaska Tour & Travel is a member of the Better Business Bureau. Also look for the BBB Online Reliability Seal (shown below, click image to verify). We have participated in the BBB’s Online Reliability program for over 5 years.
4. What products or services do you own?
You want independent, objective advice when selecting which hotel, tour and transportation options are just right for you. If a company only offers one hotel in a particular destination, and it turns out that they also own that hotel, further independent investigation is likely a good idea. Alaska Tour & Travel owns the Park Connection Motorcoach service which runs between Denali Park, Anchorage and Seward. But we also offer car rentals and 4 different options of train service. In fact, we are the Alaska Railroad’s largest seller of independent rail seats, and over 90% of the vacation packages we arrange that use the Park Connection Motorcoach also include the Alaska Railroad.
5. Do you offer a wide selection of accommodations and tours in each major Alaska destination?
Denali Park is a good example. Alaska Tour & Travel offers reservations at each of the major hotels and lodges near the Park entrance, nearly a dozen different types of accommodations total. We offer 5 different bus tours into Denali Park, from the Park Service shuttle to full-day private tours to Kantishna at the end of the Park road. No other company offers a more complete selection of Denali Park lodges, cabins, tours or transportation.
6. Do you “mark up” your tour packages or add additional fees?
There are no markups built into any of Alaska Tour & Travel's packages - not true with many of our competitors. Look at any of our self-guided vacation packages and you will see that you can click though on each service and see the cost of that individual service. The total of those costs equals the package price, including special rates we have negotiated. If a company’s website does not let you see individual prices for each service in a package, ask the company for a breakdown of the package price. This is particularly important when you see statements like “Save 10%” or “Save $200” off a particular package. You want to verify that these are true savings, not just a “discount” off an arbitrary amount included in their mark up. Another red flag to look for is a package price that says “Starting From”. Usually this means you will only get that price if you travel very early or very late in the season. Alaska Tour & Travel always lists peak season package prices, but also offers steep discounts for May and September travel.
7. What is your refund and deposit policy?
Watch out for restrictive or non-refundable vacation packages. Make sure you fully understand deposit, cancellation and refund policies before you buy. Many companies keep a portion of your deposit, even if you cancel months in advance. All of our independent land packages are fully refundable until 45 days prior to departure with a sliding scale of fees after that. We also strongly recommend travel insurance for unforeseen circumstances that may cause last minute cancellations.
8. Can I get a free no obligation quote in writing?
It is usually a good idea to get a written quote including your trip details as well as any cancellation restrictions or penalties. Avoid companies that won’t give you a written quote or ask for money prior to confirming your trip. We are happy to provide you with a free quote by fax, email or regular mail. No payments are required until you are ready to confirm your trip.
9. Do you accept credit cards?
Paying by credit card provides you with a number of protections for any major purchase. We accept most major credit cards as well as checks and money orders.
10. Do you have references?
We are proud members of a number of trade and community organizations like the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Travel Industry Association, Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Cruise Line International Association. We are also members of the Better Business Bureau. You can also visit our web site to see testimonials from dozens of our past clients.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you have any questions or concerns about any Alaska travel topic please contact us today. We also encourage you to click here to see some additional resources we think are helpful when researching business online.