Choosing a travel agency: how to do it?

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More and more travelers use the internet to prepare their trips and therefore access services that would not be possible locally. Going to a travel agency around the corner is reassuring, because you meet a counselor firsthand, who can resort to French law in the event of a dispute. Choosing a local incoming agency would not offer as many guarantees. Is it true? Today, several solutions are available to travelers who wish to go to Europe and the world with a travel agency.

On-site travel agencies with a real location

An in situ travel agency is an agency established in a city, which offers the sale of tourist services of the type: plane flights, organized stays, hotels, guides, excursions, transport, etc. Many in situ travel agencies now have a website to publicize their offers and reach a wider clientele than that of their city and its surroundings. In France, an official travel agency must be registered with ATOUT France, the tourism development agency of France.

Atout France  aims to “ contribute to the development of the tourism industry, France’s leading economic sector and all of its players ”. Beyond its missions of promoting the “Rendez-vous en France” brand internationally, Atout France adapts the French offer in the field of national and international tourism and supports its partners to help them improve their economic competitiveness. . In addition, Atout France is responsible for allocating registrations to French travel agencies.

In France, one does not become a travel agency lightly! The travel agent activity is  strictly supervised and subject to  the Tourism Code  (Articles L211-18, R211-20, R211-26, R211-35 and R211-41) . Governed by the national collective labor agreement for travel and tourism agency staff, a travel agent wishing to sell services must obtain a registration number.

This type of registration is carried out on the basis of several criteria that must be met: deposit of €160,000 then 10% of the declared turnover, as a  financial guarantee with regard to the clientele , insurance guaranteeing the financial consequences of professional civil liability, experience and professional skills in tourism, level of training leading to a diploma (Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS), Tourism-Leisure License or diploma of an equal or higher level issued by the State or by a recognized organization) etc. A commission verifies these elements and validates their conformity to grant the right to exercise and installation.

In France, only a travel agency registered  in the register of travel and holiday operators , with a number beginning with IM (not to be confused with the siret or intra-community VAT number) , is therefore authorized to sell tourist services.

Of course,  the registration in no way prejudges the seriousness of a travel agency . It only certifies that the aforementioned guarantees have been obtained which authorize a French or foreign travel agency registered in France to directly or indirectly organize a trip and to legally sell all tourist services on French territory.

Traditional tour operators and tour operators

These big names in the field of French or international tourism (Look Voyages,  PromoVacances ,  Opodo ,  TUI , Nouvelles Frontières, etc.) make trips around the world and offer a large number of constantly renewed offers, some of which at very low prices, which which is possible due to the volume they achieve. It is possible to contact them in agencies located in cities or on their websites.

Tour operators in France represent a very wide range of proposals ranging from low cost travel to luxury travel, even if the majority are in the standard or high standing travel sector ( Directours , Voyageurs du monde, etc.).

There are general tour operators with a catalog of more or less variable destinations depending on the season, but also  tour operators specializing in a field  or around a theme  (sport, adventure with  Nomade Aventure , trekking and hiking with  Terres d’Aventure , cruise , Ô Voyage, specialized in seaside and thalassotherapy tourism, Intermedes, Clio, very focused on historical and cultural travel, etc.  or in tailor-made travel  ( Comptoir des Voyages , Voyageurs du Monde).

If you are a demanding traveler, who is looking for an in-depth approach and less formatted group or self-guided tour programs than those of tour operators, nothing beats turning to specialized agencies like these. They only work with certified guides who have extensive knowledge in their field and are also very selective with regard to accommodation, visits and activities.

Despite an orientation around nature or culture, for example, agencies generally combine experiences to offer local discovery, through the natural sites that can be explored on hikes, the major cultural and historical sites and the meetings with the inhabitants, small producers to understand the terroirs and savor the local gastronomy. This is the choice of the Chamina Voyages agency,  born in the Massif Centrale from a meeting between two enthusiasts from the associative environment and lovers of travel and hiking.

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